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Email & RSS

RSS and Email; Working Together

RSS and E-mail: How They Can Work Together?

Copyright 2005 Rok Hrastnik

For most marketers online e-mail is still the key marketing and communicational tool, with its use ranging from e-zine publishing, direct sales messages, loyalty campaigns to internal communications between team members.

But getting e-mail through due to spam filters and spam itself is getting increasingly difficult, while anti-spam legislation is putting even legitimate e-mail marketers to risk.

With 100% content delivery ratios, is RSS a replacement for e-mail?

At least right now, certainly not. However, it has become the key supplement to e-mail delivery. While many internet users are starting to ignore e-mail subscriptions and subscribe only to RSS content, the majority is just starting to explore the world of RSS.

As such, the time to get started with RSS is now … if you want to get an upper hand over your competition before RSS reaches mainstream and at the same time test the RSS marketing approaches that work for you. Using RSS as a supplementary content delivery channel, next to e-mail, is one of the places to get started. But to use RSS in conjunction with e-mail, you first need to understand some of the basic relationships between these two tools and e-zines and blogs.


How do these four really relate and what does this mean for your internet marketing strategy?

The most common miss-conception is comparing blogs and e-mail, with many bloggers actually touting blogs as a replacement for e-mail. The truth is, there’s no comparison at all, just like comparing apples and oranges.

The second miss-conception is believing that RSS and blogs are somehow strongly related or even that RSS is good only for delivering blog content. The result of this on one side are marketers who do not see RSS as a full-powered communicational channel, and bloggers on the other side who refuse to see e-mail as a viable content delivery vehicle.

Let’s set the record straight in the simplest possible terms. Blogs and e-zines or newsletters are "the what" --- what you publish online ... the content side.

RSS and e-mail are "the how" --- how you get that content or information to the reader ... the delivery side. RSS/e-mail and blogs/e-zines cannot be directly compared.

Blog content and e-zine content can both be delivered via RSS and e-mail, and there is no direct business/logical relation between, for example, blogs and RSS.

What makes sense, for example, is comparing e-zines and blogs. Blogs are "personal" conversations, opinions and news, delivered in a linear structure, usually written in a more personal style, and confined to a limited number of content types.

E-zines on the other hand are more similar to magazines or newspapers, carrying content presented in a complex non-linear content structure, and having the ability to carry many different content types that do not mix well together if provided through a linear content structure. For example, a typical e-zine might include an editorial; a leading article, representing the prevailing topic of a specific e-zine issue; supporting articles, clearly structured to show they are secondary to the leading article; links to the most relevant forum topics and posts; a news section; different advertisements (banner ads, textual ads, advertorials etc.); a Q&A section; a featured whitepaper; etc.

Providing all of this content demands a complex content structure and a strong and experienced editor. The blog format simply does not provide the level of structure needed to effectively present such a complex content mix.


If you can understand these basic relations you can in fact understand how much you can integrate RSS in to your e-mail marketing strategy as a supplement to e-mail as a delivery tool.

For now, here are some of the most basic generic opportunities in using RSS together with e-mail:

1. Use RSS to announce each new issue of your e-mail e-zine, which you make available in full on your website.

2. Provide a separate RSS feed for the articles you publish in your e-mail e-zine and get them to your subscribers as soon as the articles become available, without them having to wait to receive them in your e-mail newsletter. The same goes for your news section, if you have one.

3. If you publish much content in different topic categories in your e-zine, provide a separate RSS feed for each of those topics. Take another look at the elements we listed above that a typical e-zine might include. Each of those elements could in fact become a stand alone RSS feed.

4. If you’re doing e-mail autoresponder marketing, provide those very same autoresponders as RSS feeds, allowing your visitors to subscribe either to the e-mail or RSS delivery channels to receive the very same content.

5. If you have your own affiliate program, make sure that your affiliates can also subscribe to your affiliate notices via an RSS feed, not just e-mail. Basically, all you will be doing is duplicating the same content you’re sending out via e-mail in an RSS feed.

6. If you’re sending out special notices or updates to your existing customers via e-mail, create a special limited-access RSS feed to deliver those same updates via RSS as well.

These should be enough to get you started thinking in the right direction.

About the Author:
Learn how to take full marketing advantage of RSS and get all the expertise, knowledge and how-to information for implementing RSS in your marketing mix, from direct marketing, PR, e-commerce, internal communications and online publishing to SEO, traffic generation and customer relationship management. Including complete interviews with more than 40 RSS marketing experts. Click here now:

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