Time once again for a roundup of what’s going on in the fast moving world of RSS, the Internet content delivery standard that is becoming the increasingly attractive alternative to email publishing and even web browsing.
But first . . .
The Importance of Email
In my ongoing examination of the adoption of RSS feeds for content delivery and marketing purposes, one thing has become abundantly clear — the continued importance of email. Thirty-five percent of the subscribers to Copyblogger do so via email, and it’s my fastest growing subscriber sector. And this with a blog aimed at bloggers!
If you’re not offering an email option on your blog, you’re simply missing out on subscribers. Despite the phenomenal adoption rate of RSS (which is still accelerating), email is crucial, and I now predict (like others) that it will remain an important tool for publishers and marketers through at least 2010.
Check out Feedblitz for a free RSS-to-email option for your blogs. That’s what powers the Copyblogger email newsletter, and I’ve been happy with the results so far.
For my email subscribers, if you’re not familiar with the benefits of RSS content delivery, you can check out my RSS mini-tutorial, or read Bloglines (and aggregators in general) from Carson McComas of WorkHappy.net, a great introduction to RSS readers from a great blog.
Internet Explorer 7
The recent news out of Microsoft is that the new Vista operating system will be delayed, but the new RSS-friendly Internet Explorer 7 is already available in public beta. While many of us wouldn’t even think of leaving Firefox, IE still has the lion’s share of the browser market, and Microsoft’s aggressive adoption of RSS is a great sign.
Niall Kennedy shows how the new RSS standard icon is incorporated right into the main IE tool bar (hat tip to Vincent at A Feed is Born). You may have noticed that I use a rather large version of that same standardized icon as an RSS subscription gateway. Matching up your RSS feed button with the standard icon will boost your subscriber rates after IE 7 goes public. You can get one here.
RSS and Email Reader Integration
You may have heard that the next version of Microsoft Outlook in Office 12 will have an RSS reader built in (with the same prominent icon), which will also speed feed adoption. Why? Because people will be able to read subscription content in the manner in which they are accustomed, but without revealing an email address. A classic “win win” for the end user.
It’s just taking way too long. Robert Scoble was right, Microsoft should have bought Newsgator.
Meanwhile, Yahoo has already rolled out the most significant upgrade to its popular email service since 1997, and integrates RSS way ahead of Microsoft. Debuting in the UK and Ireland, the new version of Yahoo! Mail adds RSS, message previews and ‘drag and drop’ features, similar to Microsoft Outlook.
Other RSS Developments
Feed Flare: You may have noticed the link options at the bottom of each Copyblogger post, feed entry or email. Those are part of a free service from Feedburner called Feed Flare that allows for automated subscription links, tags at del.icio.us, comment access, and an “e-mail a friend” option. Newsweek just became the first major mainstream publisher to use this service to better allow readers to distribute its content to the world (thanks for the heads up to Rok).
RSS Meets IM: Your blogging activities can now be tied to your buddy list with AOL’s AIM instant messaging service. Using RSS, your IM contacts can be pinged when you post a new blog entry. As the business use of IM and social media networking increases, business blogs could become as common as the business card is now, especially among small businesses and solo professionals.
Product Bloggers Take Note: EBay and Amazon announced extensions to their content syndication initiatives, which is the latest example of e-commerce sites using RSS to publish product information to potential buyers in order to spur sales.
RSS Marketing Intro: Finally, check out this article from Marketing Profs for a succinct summary of the reasons why RSS marketing matters.