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What Is RSS?

Recently I did an interview with a well known email Internet Marketer. He wanted to share with his readers a viewpoint on what RSS is from someone who is using it in place of traditional email marketing. Of course this interview was geared towards other Internet marketers so they all somewhat "get" what RSS is, at least in theory.

So, what IS RSS? Again, I find myself laughing, as I did in that interview because I'm fairly new to this RSS business myself. RSS is really an acronym for REALLY SIMPLE SYNDICATION - well at least that's ONE definition and the one I tend to use. Many people have heard the word syndication tossed around in other media venues, but not when it comes to the Internet until recently. Although RSS has been around for quite some time, it is finally coming into the mainstream like a snowball rolling downhill growing and gathering momentum.

Why? And really, what is RSS? First of all everyone who uses the Internet either in business, personal use, or both, have all come into contact with spam, viruses, spam laws, and heard a lot about it in the media. This whole mess has been extremely frustrating to those who make a living using the Internet, especially by direct email marketing methods. A lot of "fixes" have been tried and are being implemented to try and combat the ever growing frustration and hassle associated with delivering email newsletters to subscribers. This is where the "why" comes into play with RSS. Before I tell you what RSS is, let me explain a bit about email newsletter marketing.

Normally an email newsletter is sent out to a "list" by those who have supposedly opted in, or requested, to receive that newsletter. In fact, most list managers now require double opt-in. "Double opt-in" is just a way of saying you signed up for the newsletter, then received an email asking you to "verify" your subscription - the sender wants to make doubly certain you are the one who signed up for that newsletter. You were sent the verification email by an "autoresponder". An autoresponder is an automatic email sent to you by a service the sender uses and pays for to handle verification and other responses to subscribers. That is done to alleviate having to send out a personal email to every single subscriber which could become extremely tedious and time-consuming otherwise.

Still problems persist, because after all of that many subscribers still "forget" they signed up and file spam complaints, which can lead to investigations, IP bans and even shutdown and confiscation of all related lists, websites and software. Granted, there are some mass-mailers out there who deserve this, but the typical newsletter publisher is trying to deliver helpful, desired content and guards their list very carefully. If you're fortunate enough to get your newsletter through to your subscribers, what happens then? Well, typically, once a subscriber receives your newsletter, they read it and then naturally delete it once they're done reading it. So, you, the email marketer and publisher have gone to all the trouble to put together a newsletter, comply with the spam laws, etc., only to have your hard work deleted all the while dealing with spam issues, paying for list management services and/or paying for autoresponder service.

A much better, more viral method of online marketing can be done with an RSS feed. Let me explain that in terms that we can all understand (me included!):

Whenever we watch a television series, that series is called syndicated programming. The series is produced once, filmed once, and then put out to all the subsidiary stations across the country airing on the same day at the same time according to each time zone. So, the work is done once but duplicated all across the nation on hundreds of affiliate television stations.

RSS on the Internet works on the same concept. You input the "work" once, and every single website that carries your syndication code then receives the information you just input once. As you update your feeds those feeds are automatically updated on every single website that has your syndication code. Another upside to this is that your news does not get deleted by the reader - only you can delete it! Another plus is every website that carries your code gets regular content provided whenever you update your feed automatically. This all keeps those hungry search engines happy too.

So, you provide the content you want to market to your subscribers by providing them the links to your RSS feed from your website, meaning you don't have to send that out by email either. You can have your code posted on your website for anyone to read, and also offer it to webmasters to input into the websites they manage. No link swapping is necessary in this case either as links are not viral like syndication code. It's the difference between offering someone a Lear jet in place of a horse. It's much better to offer your syndication code in a "swap".

So, now you've avoided the spam hassle because anyone reading your feed is doing so willingly and you have not sent them anything by email so no subscription is necessary. You are providing content so not only are your readers happy, your website is happy, other webmasters are happy because you're providing consistent content without them doing a thing, and you've only done the work ONCE! No one is deleting any of your work, except you if you choose. Your work is also staying on the Internet forever. The search engines are way happy too!

So, before you start that email newsletter campaign, why not consider an RSS feed instead? It can be a much more dynamic option for you!

Kim Bloomer publishes several RSS channels using the Quikonnex system. She partners with another Quikonnex publisher, Cathy Carlton, in their Kick the Email Habit channel, where they offer syndicated online marketing services, channel building and management services, and recently opened a new RSS article bank to help others take advantage of the ease of syndicating and sharing RSS based content. Kim and Cathy built and manage the International Virtual Women's Chamber of Commerce (IVWCC) RSS channel. For more details on what she does and to subscribe to her RSS channels go to


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