I love my RSS feeds that I’ve been curating over the last six or so years. I still think that as a delivery medium RSS is part of the future of the web.
However, RSS has always taken a back seat to other ways of capturing and engaging visitors to other tactics such as email. As Scott Jangro wrote in a recent comment here:
All Traffic is Not Good Traffic | Discussion: “But can you do something to capture them as your own? That should be the primary focus on that traffic. Give them something that will get them to give you their email address, or sign up and get involved in a website. The latter is harder than the former.
So regardless of the traffic source, who are these users that are coming by, and what can you do to make them *yours*?”
There’s a mighty good reason that RSS takes a back seat to email or some other “capture” mechanism… RSS is insanely nerdy and grows more so every day/month/year. There was a great hope of people like me who saw RSS as a very viable platform that could transform the way the web delivers content and news to most individuals and we’d all be running around reading our feeds on browsers or our devices to our whims (instead of turning to mediated sources like cable news or heavens forbid network news).
That didn’t happen.
For sure, RSS is alive via platforms like the awesome Flipboard app, which is much more “user friendly” than NetNewsWire or Google Reader will ever be (though much less satisfying if you ask me).
RSS is still very much alive as a pure web medium as well. So why should marketers care about RSS subscriptions?
Because all traffic is not good traffic. The traffic you should be concerned about as a marketer is the highly qualified traffic that has the potential to not only convert into some action but become a part of the actual community that will grow and build a site over the long run (if you care about such things, which you should).
Yes, that can be accomplished via email newsletters and lists. However, email lists and RSS subscribers are almost apples and oranges in terms of comparison when considering how they interact with a site and what type of user community can be built with their help and engagement.
RSS subscribers are by nature a nerdy and dedicated bunch… don’t count them out in your efforts. Their numbers may be small (and growing smaller all the time in your Feedburner etc stats) but their power is mighty as I consistently encounter.