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RSS for the Real World ... And Then Again Maybe Not

John Botscharow returns to the e-mail debate today, responding to some of my comments and to Dana's article and goes head-on with us on our statements.

I'll have my next article in the series ready soon, so I'll wait until then before I comment. Or perhaps not:)

Here goes ...

RSS for the Real World ... And Then Again Maybe Not

by John Botscharow [web site]

I've gotten a bit behind in replying to the salvos from the opposition in the debate over the death of email marketing. I intend to correct that starting today.

Rok Hrastnik, my opponent in the email marketing debate, published an article entitled RSS for the Real World by Dana VanDen Heuvel. What follows are some of his comments about RSS and my thoughts on those comments. As with so many others, neither Rok nor DanaVanDen Heuvel understand the capabilities of the medium. They just parrot the same out-dated misinformation cited by the so-called experts.

? There is no such thing as SPAM RSS. Your RSS feed is an intravenous link into a user?s news aggregator and nothing can come between the two.
This is the most important reason for using RSS as a publisher or a subscriber to an RSS feed. But you can also use RSS to receive personal messages without spam. As a publisher or affiliate of Q, you get your own private QMTP channel for personal messages. Here's the link to mine. For more information on how the QMTP private messaging system works, click here.
? RSS feeds allow users to keep up on your site without visiting it every day. Most users visit up to 20 sites a week and no more.

This might be true of the average person on the Internet, but I am skeptical of even that. Those people who do B2B online are much more active than that by a long shot. I do 20 web sites a day easily in my research for articles alone.

The people online who subscribe to newsletters published by entrpreneurial publishers are entrepreneurs themselves. They spend much more time online than the casual Interent user. And honestly, what the casual Internet user is doing is irrelevant to me or my rarget market. They only matter to us when they become non-casual users - when they become entrepreneurs.

And if you feel that those people represent an insignificant number, read these figures for the US of A alone:

At more than 16 million, the self-employed and owners of "microbusinesses" (10 or fewer employees) make up more than half of all businesses in the United States, produce more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars in annual economic activity and make astounding tax contributions ($33.4 billion in 2000) --- Bahl's Business Communications
? You can syndicate your data on other Web sites and news sources without sending them press releases (if your press release section has an RSS feed).

I know the power of this first hand. My daily unique visitors quadrupled the first month I was with Q. And I did not do anything I was not doing already. You see Q automatically pings every time I post a new item to any of my three channels. That is powerful syndication at work, because not only do other content sites use, but so do Yahoo, MSN, and Google. My search engine rankings hve gone up as well, again without me doing anything differenly. I do not do any of the silly tricks preached by the gurus; I just try to write and publish good content and to me that is what having a newsletter is all about. For more information on syndicating with Q, click here.

? RSS usage and news aggregator adoption is very limited at this time. Hence, the reach for your RSS feed is currently shallow.

So was the use of HTML in email at first. Then HTML became the format of choice for email marketing, but now, thanks to the spam filters set up by your ISP, the only ones who consistently use HTML email are the spammers and scammers and the sheep-shearers. These filters are forcing legitimate marketers to go back to the Stone Age of eamil. The sorry thng about all this is that it has had little effect on the volume of spam.

What brought about the general public's acceptance of HTML was not those publishers who took a "let's wait till the general public accepts it" attitude but those who said, let's do it. There are those who follow public opinion and those who shape it. I want to make the Daily a shaper of opinion rather than a follower of the lemmings to the sea. That is one of the major differences between entrepreneurs and enterprises. Entrepreneurs set the trends, enterprises follow them.

? RSS is only text. Those great images you put on your site and in your e-newsletters are lost in an RSS feed.

Excuse me? Take a look at the Daily with a good aggregator like Awasu. I've got lots of graphics. Every artcile has a picture. And RSS is capable of lots more. That's why it's called Rich Site Summary.

? There is currently no way to know how many people use your RSS feed and what the open and click-through rates are on RSS syndicated content

Again, he is quoting the received wisdom about RSS. The stats I get through Quikonnex give me almost as much information as my Webalizer does for my web site. And if I felt it was important, I can set up each article to give me click-throughs very easily. The stats I watch are the number of unique uses of the XML feed (actual RSS subscribers) and the number of people using the online page for the Daily, as well as how may PHPNuke sites are picking up the feed. Being a Nuker, that is important to me and Q set up a separate feed for us Nukers that takes into consideration the specific code requirements of Nuke sites.

For more info on the stats available click here.

It appears to me that what is shallow here is not RSS but both Rok and Dana VanDen Heuvel's understanding of RSS. Hopefully my comments and the links I've provided will help enlighten them.

Related Articles -->

Finishing the First Round

The Death of eMail Debate: My Final Comments

RSS and E-mail: The Truth Shall Set You Free

The Future of RSS - Is E-Mail Publishing Dead?

Response by Tom Hespos, Underscore Marketing

RSS for the Real World

Response by Chris Dodson, Mightier Than The Sword

Response by Bob Thompson,

What is the Internet Population Anyway?

The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

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