RSS Users Love It - They Just Don't Know It


Here's a really good article from MarketingSherpa, called 50 Million US & UK RSS Users Do Not Know They Use RSS -- How to Reach Them. It's complimented by a set of slides, two sample web pages and a pdf report from Yahoo/ipsos

Lots of good reading there. I've read it all already, so when John Andrews and DG discussed RSS here, I thought about it instantly.

Okay, what does it say then? That RSS is the best thing since sliced bread of course. Every user knows that. But, it also says that RSS does not seem to cut down on visits to web sites. (Graph)

And this is interesting: The majority of RSS users don't know they're using RSS! They are not the ones using feed readers and such - in stead they use services like My Yahoo, and other similar aggregators. But, even though they don't know they're using RSS, they still love it!

Ah, and it can increase sales too. You can actually sell garden seeds in the middle of winter using RSS as a "newsletter". I'm not sure if you can sell ice cream in the arctic regions too, but the seed case is documented.

So, what do you think? RSS undervalued? Do you use it for anything but blogs? Has it replaced email newsletters? Will it? And even if you just use it for blogs, what do you think of RSS as opposed to a web site?


RSS in a niche directory

I use RSS for my niche directory to keep avid enthusiasts up to date with the 700+ new site submissions a month and sometimes interject other things into the feed. The feed updates almost hourly so there's always something new for them to look at.

My actual competitors don't "get it" yet but some new upstart figured it out and copied my idea, too bad his feed didn't work right ;)

still very young

from that Yahoo white paper on RSS:

"mainstream media rather than niche content accounts for the majority of RSS use"

A large percentage of those being counted as "RSS Users" are really just people with Yahoo home pages (which they may or may not actually use) and people choosing news sources for their customizable news page (whether that is Yahoo or Google or whatever).

"50% chose their feeds from a list offered by the RSS tool"

Anyone remember when being a Microsoft Partner meant a steady stream of customers for overpriced sofware packages in accounting, personal finance, antivirus, database apps, etc? If you were on the list, you were one of the only options.

All this data on how big RSS is seems to actually prove how small it is.... although I agree completely RSS is very important (and have said so since early 2003). It's just early still. It is good for some things, but should everyone have a feed? I doubt it.

Also interesting how unfriendly the XML button is... the papers above say it is hardly used at all and even when used, people who clicked it don't recall what happened or what they did next. That failure to manage the exit is enough to justify a break from the standard and use another method to sign people up, if you ask me.

I think RSS is a disruption of the website web model, and a stepping stone towards a page web model. We are still missing essential pieces for that transition, and RSS is filling a gap.

IMHO the most important

IMHO the most important thing about RSS is that (1) its adoption will increase the prevalence of distributed media strategies (i.e. wanting to spread your media as far and wide as possible and not centralizing it on your site) and (2)it faciliates the creation and delivery of personalized content. the two combined should be enough to disrupt the online publishing industry in a pretty substantive way.

now it just needs to be simpler to use. i also think the jargon surrounding it is problematic; non-web people arent acclimated to terms like RSS, XML, feeds....everything should've centered around the word subscribe, IMHO that would've made a huge difference.

Great comments!

And a great idea with a "recently updated" feed!

I agree that the term RSS as well as the RSS buttons are confusing - especially as there are such a huge amount of different ones. Me, I always use the generic term "feed" in stead of the abbreviations, and then I point Feedburner at my feeds so that people get an interface that is more friendly than the raw xml. Also, that way i only need to display one button, creating less confusion that way.

I like the term "subscribe" too.

>> page web model / distributed media

Somewhere else I wrote that the conversation takes place at seven. I believe there are a few different ways to slice that cake, but ultimately we will have a situation in which the notion of a "web site" isn't really a necessary prerequisite in order to become a web publisher. Ie. that you can publish directly to other peoples' sites (or phones, pda's, readers, whatever) or that sites begin to integrate more content from several sources.

Also, borders between individual web sites will begin to blur as an article with accompanying discussion etcetera will spread over multiple sites and content types. The whole blogging thing is an early version of this scenario, IMHO.

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