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As much as this might surprise most bloggers, the #1 mistake most blogs are doing is not publishing their content via e-mail, as a supplement to their RSS feeds.
Just think about it: while RSS is growing strong, it still only penetrates about 5-6% of the American online population. Furthermore, according to a recent BlogAds survey, "only 12 percent of the blog reading audience said it used RSS always or often".
If you're delivering your blog content only via RSS, you're missing out on about 80% or more of potential regular readership/followship.
THE KEY BLOG PROBLEM
There are millions of blogs already, but really few people have the time to watch more than a few daily. But if they come back just once a week, they can be quickly overwhelmed with the amount of new content.
That's why it's crucial to provide a "best of", a helping hand to guide your readers to the "must-read" content you publish ? and delivering this content either as a standalone "blog-zine" or as part of your regular e-mail newsletter.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Deliver your blog posts as they are written via RSS, but then also publish a regular (weekly or monthly) e-mail e-zine with your "top blog posts" for those that are still not in to RSS.
Don't do just one channel, do both.
E-mail is still the #1 end-user content delivery channel ... whether we like it or not. Using e-mail (as a supplement to RSS) to deliver our content is just good business practice, at least for now.
THE CHRIS PIRILLO EXAMPLE
Chris Pirillo is the publisher of one of the most popular sites on the net, Lockergnome.com. He was actually the first to proclaim e-mail as being dead.
But still, while he preferrs for his subscribers to use RSS instead of e-mail, that isn't stopping him from using or promoting either RSS or e-mail.
COMPARING BLOGS, E-ZINES, E-MAIL AND RSS
If you're reading this article and thinking that blogs are actually "beyond e-mail", just consider the following reality.
RSS and e-mail are content delivery channels; the tools that enable us to deliver our content to end-users. Blogs and e-zines on the other hand are two different internet media content formats, differing in how/what content is provided and presented through them.
RSS/e-mail and blogs/e-zines cannot be directly compared. Blog content and e-zine content can both be delivered via RSS and e-mail, and there is no direct business/logical relation between, for example, blogs and RSS.
Blogs are "personal" conversations, opinions and news, delivered in a linear structure, usually written in a more personal style, and confined to a limited number of content types.
E-zines on the other hand are more similar to magazines or newspapers, carrying content presented in a complex non-linear content structure, and having the ability to carry many different content types that do not mix well together if provided through a linear content structure.
A typical e-zine might include:
- an editorial;
- a leading article, representing the prevailing topic of a specific e-zine issue;
- supporting articles, clearly structured to show they are secondary to the leading article;
- links to "best of" blog posts in the given timeframe;
- links to the most relevant forum topics and posts;
- a news section;
- a featured client case study;
- different advertisements (banner ads, textual ads, advertorials etc.);
- a featured consultant;
- a Q&A section;
- a featured whitepaper;
Providing all of this content demands a complex content structure and a strong and experienced editor. The blog format simply does not provide the level of structure needed to effectively present such a complex content mix.
But that's not to say that blogs are in any way inferior to e-zines, they're just different. And businesses need both, and they need to deliver both via RSS and e-mail.
Personal preferences towards content delivery channels and internet content media formats have no place in business. What matters is what our audiences want and how they want it.
Copyright 2005 Rok Hrastnik
Rok Hrastnik is the author of »Unleash the Marketing & Publishing Power of RSS«, acclaimed as the best and most comprehensive guide to RSS for marketers by leading RSS experts. The complete guide on RSS for marketers: http://rss.marketingstudies.net/index.html?src=sa2
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