January 06, 2006

RSS Syndication: The User's Vehicle

I've been doing a lot of thinking about syndcation, Jeremiah and I have had quiet a few discussions. Below are just some thoughts I have, but the most important is the questions I raise later. I'm really thinking about RSS and how it can benefit each aspect of business from the customer to the employee..

Syndication is often thought of as “News feeds” or RSS (Really Simple Syndication). RSS allows users the opportunity to locate information in real time, instantaneous, without much effort. The content comes to the user, no need for the user to search through the several million Google searches just to find the right info. RSS brings the right content at the right time and at the right place. This is important!

RSS is a “vehicle that contains both links and content.” So why is this important? Because RSS is “100% Opt-in.” This means businesses are no longer charged of being intrusive by invading email campaigns and users have the flexibility to control whether or not they want the content. Yes, the users are in CONTROL now. Beware of the user!
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What does this mean? I want to look at this from a business perspective…more of a business opportunity:
  • *By giving all the power to the user in the form of RSS, it builds trust, and thus a community is formed; a community that is informal and on the customers’ grounds. No fancy sales pitches and certainly no marketing gimics.
  • *RSS allows a company to exemplify thought leadership. Now businesses are FORCED to write quality and enticing information. If not, it only takes a second for the user to opt-out. This is good for the competitive market, now companies will raise their game to attract the users.
  • *RSS is only the beginning and sets the stage for many more tools companies can use to not only gain new customers, but retain existing customers.
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So RSS is a very good tool, but it’s a rather new concept that several companies are either embracing or completely ignoring. Perhaps they do not see the ROI in RSS. And they may have a good point since there is really no way to judge success and gauge how this helps a company grow in profit, sales, users, and customers.

My question is…When using RSS, what should companies measure? What stat should they be focused on? Number of clicks? Number of subscribers? No! No!

Companies should focus on the time each user spends on each page. Sure, a company can have 1000 clicks a day, but if the users only stay at the page an average of 10 seconds, then something is definitely wrong. However, if a company experiences 30 clicks a day, but the user stays on the page for an average of 20 minutes, then something is definitely right. Yes, the company may not have many clicks, but that is easy to fix. As long as the company has relevant content that is enticing enough to keep users reading, users will definitely keep the RSS feeds going.

Key Measure = How long each user spends on each page

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Another very intriguing question is: How to increase a user’s willingness to opt-in without being intrusive?

I have not developed a full answer for the question as of yet. If RSS does in fact become the new trend, ALL companies will be faced with the same dilemma. Sure catch page titles can do the trick, but I want something more useful. Why follow the next company?

A while back I was talking with a colleague about competitive strategies in the photography industry. He is a very successful photographer and I asked how? His response was simple, yet very important:

While everyone else was copying the next company’s moves, I looked for something else. Yes, whatever they were doing worked, but why follow them? I searched for a strategy that was unique, yet still effective. I wanted to be successful… This strategy has worked for over 10 years, and people still ask what my secret is.

<>Just in case you were wondering, here’s a link to the photographer’s website: StudioMark.Com <>
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I agree! So, what is the differentiating strategy that can be used with RSS?

…remember RSS is a vehicle, so sit in the driver’s seat and drive!

I want to hear your thoughts…do you agree? disagree?



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3 Comments:

At 1/06/2006, Blogger Jeremiah Owyang said...

I agree, you've captured the essential key points. Don't forget that Syndicated content and a feedreader will provide the end user with very accurate and relvent information --it makes their life easier.

Regarding the 'marketing advertisting' and other introductions into the field, this can work, as long as this is expected and wanted by the conusmer. When a consume is in dire need of a solution, introducing the right solution product makes sense.

Because users can opt-in and opt-out at will, RSS publishers need to be very cautious on the content they provide as Syndication is a pull channel.

good stuff Chris, you got it!

 
At 1/07/2006, Blogger Gilbert Salazar and Family said...

Good point! It is vital that RSS publishers keep in mind that the content they publish is pulled by users. Again, hopefully this will encourage publishers to write with high quality and integrity.

Thanks for the comments!

 
At 1/09/2006, Blogger Easton Ellsworth said...

I agree, what makes RSS so special is that it's a "puller" - you can use it to pull content as it becomes available. No more compulsive checking disorder.

I think it's important to offer the user as much freedom as possible regarding RSS - give 'em all the feedreader buttons they can handle, let 'em pick between full and partial feeds, etc. Let them subscribe to category feeds or comment feeds on your blog, etc. That way, they will be more likely to subscribe to you. The company I blog for, Know More Media, is constantly working to get better at using and offering RSS.

Jeremiah, you're just brimming with great ideas and I'm sure you'll do great things with RSS at Hitachi. I enjoy your "web prophecies" as well :).

 

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