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RSS - The Intelligent Marketing Medium

Are you new to RSS? If so here is a introduction to what RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is and how your website will benefit from offering an RSS feed to your visitor's.

RSS is a smooth channel of communication between publishers and visitor's. Since RSS has grown in recent popularity, more website owners are beginning to experiment with and use RSS feeds to deliver content in new and exciting ways. Usually RSS feeds contain news headlines and small content summaries. The summaries have just enough information to allow the visitor to decide whether he or she would be interested in reading the entire contents without overwhelming the visitor with excessive details. If the visitor is interested they can click on the headline in the RSS feed and access the website which has additional details.

RSS readers are software programs that run either client side or server side and their purpose is to aggregate multiple feeds, making it easy for visitor's to quickly and efficiently scan information contained within each feed. Feeds are usually themed, which allows visitor's to subscribe to feeds that are of interest to them.

In a time when spam filters are blocking much of the content visitor's have asked for, the biggest benefit to using RSS is that RSS gives publishers and readers the chance to connect, and for good ideas to be shared, without the clutter of unsolicited email messages. There is no opt-in or opt-out requirement. This means visitor's don't need to give out their email address and ultimately rules out any fear of receiving unsolicited email to the visitor's inbox. For the website owner using RSS to deliver their content nullifies any lingering doubts about whether their content is actually getting through to the visitor, which is an issue to consider when using traditional newsletter marketing.

What Kind of Information Can be Delivered in RSS Feeds?

Blog Feed
Many blogs are catalogued in an RSS feed, with each blog entry summarized as a feed item. This makes it easy for visitor's to scan blog posts for items of interest.

Article Feed
Articles are often placed into feeds to alert readers when new articles and content are available. The feed entry is typically an article summary or introduction. Readers can then ascertain if the article is of interest and read further.

Forum Feed
Many forums now have add-ons that allow participants to receive forum posts via RSS. The RSS feeds often will show the latest discussion topics; if users are interested they simply click to enter the forum to participate in the discussion. As the topic is updated they will see new entries in the RSS feed.

Schedule Feed
Schools, clubs and organizations will often use feeds to communicate meeting times, places and events that might be occurring. The RSS feeds are often used to publicize events, notify the community of schedule changes or meeting agendas.

Discounts / Specials Feed
Retail and online stores have begun using RSS feeds to deliver their latest specials and discounted offers. Some online retailers have taken this a step further, allowing users to create their own feeds based on keywords or phrases.

News Monitoring
Companies or individuals interested in receiving headline news based on a specific brand or keyword can use RSS feeds to monitor news sources.

Now that you know what RSS is and how it can be useful, let's cut to the chase and figure out how to cash in with RSS. By now you should be asking yourself this question: "Why should I implement RSS into my website and if I did, how would RSS increase my web traffic and profits?"

Here's a hint: Microsoft is integrating RSS support in the next version of its Internet Explorer and is making RSS an integral part of its long-awaited Longhorn operating system.

This is a tremendous opportunity for website owners who position themselves early on in the game (i.e. right now) by implementing RSS into their own websites. Once Windows Longhorn is released in late 2006 users will be able to find, subscribe to and read RSS feeds all the while having very little knowledge of how RSS works. Microsoft is helping to make RSS very user friendly.

Even major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN are already supporting, spidering and/or showing RSS feeds.

A very good resource which you should visit if you're at all interested in setting up a successful RSS feed would be which is operated by Rok Hrastnik. Specifically if you want to learn how to setup a RSS feed visit this page.

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