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RSS 101: Feed Your Readers

Learn the Basics of Using RSS Feeds for Your Blog

Feed your readers with these content distribution tips from Kathy Gray, brand engagement strategist for Pole Position Marketing. Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, feeds streamline the process of disseminating information between content publishers and their readers.

In this webinar you’ll learn:

  • What an RSS feed is and how to access it
  • How to use RSS to email campaigns to encourage blog subscribers
  • How to use email marketing software to create those campaigns
  • Why offering subscription incentives and calls to action within your posts is critical to success

Speaker: Kathy Gray, Brand Engagement Strategist

Watch Time: 00:09:10

Download “RSS 101: Feed Your Readers” slides on SlideShare.

[Video Transcript]

Hi. This is Kathy Gray, brand engagement strategist for Pole Position Marketing. And today, we’re going to be talking about RSS feeds and how to use them to keep users engaged with your blog.

What does RSS stand for? Really Simple Syndication. Now, does that make a lot of sense? Probably not, but it’s a technology that streamlines content distribution between publishers and their readers.

What are the benefits? Readers can easily and automagically receive your new content. They don’t have to remember to check your site for new posts. It provides more reliable content distribution than social media. And finally, it helps keep your readers engaged with your website.

If you’re using WordPress for your blog, your feed is typically located in one of these two locations. Either http://www.site.com/?feed=rss, or it’s at http://www.site.com/feed. If your website is built on another platform, speak with your web developer to find out if your site has RSS capabilities with its blog.

So how do people read your feed? They use feed readers. When you look at the raw RSS feed your website creates, you may think it looks like a lot of gibberish. To read your RSS feed, the reader needs a feed reader. One of the most popular feed readers is Feedly. It allows readers to organize and read multiple feeds from different websites.

One way to encourage blog subscribers who may not be familiar with RSS feeds and feed readers is to set up an RSS to email campaign. Let’s face it. There are a lot of people who don’t know what a feed reader is, they have no clue how to subscribe to a feed, and they may not even prefer to use it. For the blogs that I follow and want to see updates right away from, my favorite ones, I prefer to get them by email versus logging into a feed reader. I have other blogs, they’re kind of my secondary blogs, that I don’t necessarily need to see their posts right away, and for them, I go to Feedly. But some people just prefer to receive email updates. So this allows your reader to receive the new blog posts by email by setting up an RSS to email campaign. If you already use email marketing software, check with your provider first to see if they have RSS to email capabilities. Not all do. Constant Contact, which is a really popular email marketing program, for instance, does not have that capability.

Our preferred email marketing software is MailChimp, and they make it very easy to create RSS to email campaigns. Their user-friendly campaign builder will guide you through the steps. They even offer a free plan for those just getting started and building their subscriber base. AWeber, Mad Mimi, FeedBlitz are just a couple other examples of platforms that you can use.

Depending on your provider, you may be able to feature additional content in your RSS to email campaign. For example, using MailChimp, we have a call to action to download additional content and provide a new insider tip each week. With MailChimp, you can opt to send your RSS to email campaign whenever a new blog post is published, or you could send once a day. You can even send once a week, which is what we do, and it sends everything that’s been published within the last seven days since the last email was sent. Or a frequency of your own choosing, depending on how often you’re publishing posts to your blog. And these are just two examples of additional content that we’ve featured in our email campaigns before.

Your readers will need to be opt-in subscribers to receive your emails, so you’ll want to look into different ways to encourage subscriptions. Adding a subscribe widget to the sidebar or footer of your blog can encourage readers to sign up. These are just a few examples of different types of callouts.

Offer an incentive to encourage subscription. Here are two examples. A free marketing course and a free social media tools guide. Both are available after someone subscribes. Using your email marketing software, you can set up an automatic trigger. So once someone subscribes using this form, your email software will automatically send them an email with the content. B to C businesses will often offer a one-time discount to those who subscribe to their updates. Get creative.

You can also add a call to action within your blog posts. Again, here are two examples of different call to actions to encourage subscriptions and get the news out. The first one, from the Blog Maven, talks about getting free email updates with the latest tips, tricks and tutorials for taking your blog to the next level, because if you enjoyed this post, then you want to get more. The second one is from HubSpot. And theirs isn’t so much to encourage email subscribers, but to try and get people to share their content with another friend and hopefully develop more subscribers that way.

This is just a quick overview of RSS feeds. If you have questions or thoughts, give me a shout. You can find me on Twitter @kagray, or contact me by email. Thanks for tuning in.