why RSS fails with my readers

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/12/06 · 7 comments 1 views

in a analytics tools,a analytics: rating and ranking - who's #1,e marketing 101 KISS

    If you care about social media measurement, why not giving your business suits the choice to customise your content as much as possible to fit their needs?
    Remember it is about retention – keeping your current readers happy. This is what American Express solved with its blog and Daimler is in the process of doing so as we explain here.

So what do the above tell us? Business people might not have adopted RSS technology. Hence, another reason for providing your readers with the option to subscribe to your blog by giving you an email address.

Join our subscribers, get the next blog post first, provide your e-mail address.

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In turn you will then receive a summary of the next blog post with a URL to read the full post – nice and easy.

As well, you can make it easier for your readers to take advantage of your blog’s RSS feed. I outline these matters below.

Of course, geeks can get your feed/posts via a microblogging service by following ComMetrics on Twitter. Unfortunately, it is a safe bet that less than two percent of your clients are on Twitter or another micrblogging service such as Identi.ca, at least for the next 12 months.

allow visitors to customise your RSS feed to fit their needs

To start making things simpler and easier for your readers, make the RSS feed as user-friendly as possible. Put differently, a multi-author blog may have many posts that are of little if any interest to me.

With WordPress, you can make it possible for readers to get RSS delivery for some categories or authors only.

Anita Campbell has pointed out in a comment to a previous post how American Express achieves this with its online blog – thank you Anita and read about it here:

OPENforum from AMEX – Anita Campbell

The Daimler case ==> The Daimler blog covers many wide-ranging topics. I must admit that most if not all are very interesting indeed. I have read content there I never dreamed of reading and I have not regretted it once. Nevertheless, for those of you that want to narrow down the topics, there is a solution.

Get category-specific feeds from the Daimler blog. Already, Daimler offers you the overall RSS feed and a feed for comments (great move). However, at this point Daimler does not offer category-specific or author-specific feeds. Nils Koenig pointed out in a comment on our blog that Daimler is considering offering category-specific feeds.

Thanks to WordPress, however, you can get category-specific feeds even if Daimler does not tell you how to do it. In fact, because Daimler uses so-called custom permalinks, you just need the complete path to the category folder to get your category RSS feed. With the Daimler blog, the format will be something like this:

http://domainname.com/category/maincategory/subcategory/feed

I find the Beruf und Karriere category on the Daimler blog very interesting. The category URL is:

http://blog.daimler.de/kategorien/beruf-und-karriere/

If you wish to get postings from the Daimler blog that are archived in this category only, you can make up the RSS URL yourself like this:

http://blog.daimler.de/kategorien/beruf-und-karriere/feed/

The ComMetrics case ==> For this blog, things work a bit different since we do not use permalinks. But it is easy, trust me. For instance, the category usability and friendliness – the one that we assigned this post to – uses the following url:

http://commetrics.com/?cat=285

To get the RSS feed for this category only – enter the following URL:

http://commetrics.com/?feed=rss2&cat=285

We have explained this issue in more general terms and how it applies to WordPress blogs here:

RSS – subscribe to one or more categories

With the above tricks and tips – readers can customise their RSS feeds from any WordPress blog. However, I suggest you make-up a page for your blog explaining this to your readers as we did here:

how to customise the ComMetrics RSS feed to suit your needs best

    for technically minded bloggers – click on the link below to learn how you can add category feed links to your blog posts using WordPress (although I find this overkill):

How to Add WordPress Category Feed Links to Posts

conclusion

In 2005, Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that only 9% of Americans online have a good idea of what RSS feeds are. That 5% were using RSS was interpreted as suggesting that this technology is gaining ground. Three years later, we may be at the stage where 10 to 20% use it and 25% understand what it is.

Whether RSS is gaining a foothold as an application is beside the point for your blog. The issue is RETENTION.

How can I improve retention as far as my RSS readers are concerned? Have you resolved this issue?

In my case, readers are primarily business people that still prefer e-mail but some love RSS. So I tried to make it easy for them by offering subscription by email and, most importantly, empowering them to customise my RSS feeds. It is that simple and straight forward.

I suggested that offering people the choice to customise your RSS feed is important. I explained how we decided to do it with our ComMetrics RSS feed page – I hope that the feedback from my readers will show that I am right. I also hope that this will make getting my content via RSS mor attractive to those readers.

Just ask yourself – how geeky is your blog’s readership. If you have business folks that read your content, some may not want to use more than e-mail or send an SMS via their mobile to their kids. Remember that fact, when insisting on offering RSS feeds wit neither customisation options nor the email option for content delivery.

So let us stop the camera here. Now it is your turn. What is your experience with your blog, what do your subscribers prefer and why?

Please share your feedback, ideas, and critique. Did I forget something?

Thanks.

More information:  RSS and e-mail: It is all about user-retention!

Article source: RSS – the myth or why it fails with my readers

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