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You're interested in RSS marketing, but there either seem to be so many options of how to do it or you've only ever come across simple RSS feeds that just don't seem to be the approach you're looking for.
The problem with most RSS marketing plans is that the marketer doesn't really go beyond providing a simple RSS feed for all of his online news or his blog. But since you've been reading this column for a while now you know for a fact that RSS offers so much more.
To get started the right way you need to correctly plan your RSS Marketing strategy, starting by deciding how you are going to deliver your RSS content.
The right way to go, even if you're only starting out with a simple RSS strategy, is to provide individual RSS feeds for:
1. your individual target audiences,
2. your different types of content and
3. even your different content topics.
Think of this as a consecutive list of how to develop your RSS strategy.
1. Target Audiences
Start by listing the target audiences you want to deliver your content to via RSS. Each of your audiences has different content needs, resulting in different groups of RSS feeds that need to be created for these target audiences. One group for the media, the other for your employees, the other for the general public, the other for your existing customers and so on. You can even go further and divide your master groups in sub-groups, based on their prevailing interests.
2. Content Types
Now consider the different types of content you want to deliver to these audiences. For example your latest news, your blog posts, your how-to articles, your press releases, your podcasts, the latest posts from your forums, direct communications messages and so on. In most cases these types of content don't mix well together. If someone wants to receive your blog updates, which are full of your company representatives' personal opinions and commentary, they don't want to receive your corporate-speak press releases.
If someone is interested in what's happening in your forum and what the latest forum posts are, they don't want to receive your how-to articles in the same RSS feed, simply because these two types of content are so much different. And so on. Essentially, you will need to provide separate feeds for each of the different content types, and you will need to determine what content types you wish to deliver to each of your target audience groups and sub-groups.
3. Content Topics
Finally take a look at each individual content type for each individual target audience and further break that down by content topic, if needed. And if you're trying to cover many different topics for each content type, you will need to provide different RSS feeds for these different topics, because, again, people interested in topic A are not necessarily also interested in topic B.
While this may sound complicated, it's really simple once you start doing it.
The point is, this is about giving your subscribers choice of what they subscribe to. Instead of forcing them to subscribe to everything, allow them to subscribe to only what they want and need.
Quite simple, right?
Just remember that you should only break this down as far as it makes sense, keeping in mind the actual content that your target audiences want from you.
Depending on your business, you just might only need to communicate with one target audience, deliver only one content type and deliver only one content topic for that target audience.
Decide How You Are Going to Deliver This Content
Once you have your RSS content mapped-out, you need to consider how you are going to make this content available to your target audiences. This is especially important since it's going to influence the tools you need to get started with RSS publishing
One-Size-Fits-All RSS Feeds
This is about as standard as it gets --- publishing one RSS feed to meet the needs of all of your target audiences at once or publishing multiple topical RSS feeds, which always remain the same. The easiest to do, can be done with any RSS publishing tool on the market …
Customizable RSS Feeds
The more and more complex you get with the different feeds you're offering, the more difficult it is for your visitors to select what exactly they want, simply because an individual subscriber might be interested in 10 of your 100 feeds, but he doesn't want to be subscribed to that many feeds by your company.
In this case the best way to go is to also offer your visitors the opportunity to customize your RSS feed they decide exactly what content type and content topics they want to receive in one or a few RSS feeds they'll be subscribing from you.
The opportunities here are quite endless, as you can allow them to customize their feeds based on topics, content types, authors and more.
If this is the way you need to go because you are offering so much content via your RSS feeds that it makes it difficult for someone to subscribe to only one or a few feeds from you, you will need your RSS publishing solution to support feed customization.
Search-Based RSS Feeds
Search-based RSS feeds are a subset of customizable RSS feeds, and they work just like a search engine. You type in a certain keyword or keyword combinations and the search engine gives you the most relevant or the latest results for that keyword combination.
You can do the same with RSS, allowing your visitors to enter specific keywords and then get the content from you only based on those keywords.
Personalized RSS Feeds
Giving users the choice to customize the content they are receiving from you is one thing, but certain content may actually demand you to personalize the feed using your subscribers personal information.
The most basic variation, used to lift response, is addressing your subscribers by name or using other data about the customer from your database, such as his address, previous purchases etc.
In other cases a bank might want to deliver information directly relating to your bank account, directly via RSS, such as your latest credit card transactions, and so on.
RSS Feeds With Content Targeting
Now imagine that you want to create individualized campaigns to individual subscribers, based on the information you already have in your database about their activities, demographics and so on, for example to send a promotion for product A only to those subscribers that might be most interested in product A.
In this case you will need an RSS solution that can pull this data from your database and then segment your subscribers based on the actual data.
Autoresponder RSS Feeds
Since their introduction, e-mail autoresponders have become a relatively mainstream internet direct marketing tool, although they haven't really made their way to the world of public relations.
The concept is simple a certain action by your visitors on your website triggers a sequence of e-mail messages, delivered to that visitor, provided you have his e-mail address, over a period of several days.
Direct marketers use this to automatically communicate with the prospect after a certain action, trying to get him to do what they want.
The most common application is offering your visitors a free report, delivered to them via e-mail. After subscribing they start receiving consecutive parts of the report day after day or a every few days, receiving both new information as well as being exposed to the marketer's promotional message.
Other applications include autoresponder messages in relation to transactional e-mail:
* Subscribe to a free e-mail newsletter. The first autoresponder message thanks you for the subscription and also gives you access to one of the newsletter issues. A couple of days later, while you're still "hot as a lead", you receive another e-mail, pertaining to the newsletter topic, giving you more advice or information on the topic and trying achieve a sales conversion. And so on.
* Complete a webstore order. The first message thanks you for the purchase and recommends an additional product at a lower price. The second message tells you more about the product you purchased. The third messages makes a special additional purchase offer. The fourths message gives you some great additional tips, and so on.
* Start an online order, but don't finish it. The first message reminds you that there are still products in your shopping cart. The second message reminds you again, giving you added incentive to complete the order. And so on …
The opportunities are practically limitless, but you get the picture.
This same approach can also be used by public relations professionals:
* A journalist subscribes to your industry news newsletter. The thank you message brings him the latest issue, the second message invites him to send in questions, the third message provides valuable links to various industry content on your website and the fourth message delivers some amazing interviews with your team.
* You're trying to build public awareness of your expertise by establishing your company as a thought-leader in the industry. You start by offering a free whitepaper on a hot industry topic, but in order to download it your visitors needs to give you their e-mail addresses. When they do download, you send them a thank you e-mail with more interesting information. A couple of days later you send them a link to your thought-leadership blog and invite them to comment. Yet again a few days later you send them a great interview with your resident experts, and so on.
Essentially, you're using autoresponders to facilitate direct interaction with your new prospect and continue building your thought-leadership position.
Now simply transform this concept into the realm of RSS.
Someone subscribes to your RSS feed. The first couple of content items, spread-out through the first week, serve as a series of welcome messages giving the new subscriber access to your top content and inviting him to actively participate. Your latest feed updates come through as well, but your new subscriber also gets the extra treatment (content) in the same feed.
And now apply this to anything you're doing with RSS, where it makes sense to follow-up with additional information to your new subscribers once they subscribe, of course depending on the feed topic and target audience.
Very few RSS tools today offer autoresponder capabilities, but some do.
To Recap …
Think of your RSS publishing strategy and try to establish which of the these publishing models your RSS publishing tool should support:
* Topical or Target Audience Oriented RSS Feeds
* Customizable RSS Feeds
* Search-Based RSS Feeds
* Personalized RSS Feeds
* RSS Feeds With Content Targeting
* Autoresponder RSS Feeds
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