Using RSS for Marketing". The panel had a great set of participants including: Tom Markiewicz CEO, EvolvePoint (moderator); Emily Chang Co-founder, Ideacodes; Bill Flitter Chief Mktg Officer, Pheedo Inc; John Jantsch Owner, Duct Tape Marketing; Greg Reinacker CTO/Founder, NewsGator Technologies Inc.This morning, I attended a panel titled "
Tom's style of facilitation (at least for this panel) guided the conversation to cover a broad range of topics extremely quickly. However, at a high level, the panel discussed:
- Reasons marketers should syndicate content
- What are marketers and publishers doing wrong?
User adoption / understanding of RSS
The panel all agreed that user adoption of RSS is continuing to grow. They also all agreed that inclusion of an RSS reader in Internet Explorer 7 has helped increase adoption. Bill pointed to some research showing a 500% growth in the automotive vertical in 2006, as one example of this growth spreading outside of the technology and early-adopter crowd.
However, they also agreed that most people don't actually know they are consuming RSS content. Greg Reinacker did an excellent job summarizing the consensus of the group when he stated: "It is not about RSS at all, it is about subscribing to content". Yahoo and Ipsos did some interesting research (pdf) in Oct 2005 that showed there are a large percentage of unaware RSS users. Apparently, this group is continuing to grow in size.
Interestingly, Bill commented that even in pitches to advertisers, Pheedo has stopped talking about RSS and now just talks about 'content distribution' or 'syndication'.
Reasons Marketers Should Syndicate Content
The panel went through a number of reasons why marketers would consider syndicating their content via RSS. The reasons tended to fall into the following 'meta reasons':
- It's an easy and faster way to deliver information to their customers and other audience members;
- Marketers are becoming more like publishers (here's a good description of pubvertising - nb: free acct required); the panel said RSS is a great way for marketers to participate;
- It is a very easy way to optimize your content for search results, because if your feed is optimized then the content is crawled and archived efficiently for search results.
What are marketers and publishers doing wrong?
Bill talked about publishers "being too stingy with their content". He indicated that most want to restrict the feed to partial text, even though in the research they have done the difference in response rate (clicking back to the website) is not statistically significant between full and partial text. In addition, he talked about the importance of adding your company's name to posts and potentially even as part of the title (like the AP feeds).
John talked about making sure your content is easy to subscribe to. Going back to the state of adoption, he encouraged all bloggers, publishers and marketers to make it very easy to subscribe. He even encouraged marketers targeting lower-tech audiences to include a video or page description, explaining exactly how to subscribe to your content.
The panel also touched on the limited amount of tracking that publishers and marketers do on their feeds and the importance of including basic analytics. Note: I discovered very similar things in a yet to be published second phase report that I prepared for the Newspaper Association of America, on 'RSS Next and Best Practices'. Here is a link to a brief description of the full project, on my personal blog. The second phase involved surveying 70+ newspapers about their use of RSS.