Your RSS feed - Another tool to connect
07-30-2017 11:15 - edited 07-30-2017 06:22
Your blog has an RSS feed URL that gives visitors an option to subscribe without giving up their email address. That might not sound very inboundy at the outset, but publishing your RSS feed URL offers an alternative for prospects to monitor and receive your content instantly.
Before we get to that, however, let’s find out what RSS is and how to use it.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It sounds tricky, but once you understand how it works, it really is simple. Other names for RSS include feed (as in RSS feed), while some refer to it as a subscription. Don’t let the word subscription scare you though; nobody pays for an RSS subscription. In fact, if you subscribe to a website using RSS, you are getting that site’s content delivered directly to you, for free. Like HubSpot, every blogging platform includes RSS functionality by default.
Can my visitors follow any page on my site using RSS?
Keep in mind, a blog site is different from a regular web page, in that a blog is constantly updated. For example, you update your blog every week or so with new content about your product or industry. In contrast, the content on your About Us page is a bit more static and only updated every few months.
As a customer or fan of your product, I’ll certainly want to learn about your groundbreaking new developments (posted on the blog), but might not be so interested in your newly hired vice-president of human resources on your About Us page (although if you really want me to know, you can certainly publish a blog post!) The RSS feed, used in conjunction with a feed reader, will notify me of your blog posts in real time. RSS functionality is not available on stand-alone website pages.
RSS Feeds + Feed Readers = Content Heaven
RSS feeds are urls directly connected to a blog site. When accessed, that URL shows the most recently published content. A feed reader is a piece of software that monitors your selected feed urls, notifies you that a new post has been published, and provides a direct link to the post. Once you add the RSS feed url to a feed reader, you are instantly notified of a newly published post. Think of it this way, instead of you going to a blog to check for new content, that content comes straight to you.
If you use Firefox or Internet Explorer, you’re in luck because they have built-in feed readers. Simply add the RSS feed url as a bookmark and you're off to blog nirvana. New posts published since your last visit are indicated by the number next to the bookmark's title. Chrome completely lacks a feed reader* while Safari’s feed option is less than satisfactory. ( Search Google to find plenty of web-based and downloadable feed reader apps.)
RSS Feeds vs Email
You’ve most likely subscribed to a blog in the past, but received notifications of new posts via email. In most cases, this is how a majority of users will subscribe to and receive blog post notifications. For some reason, RSS, even though it has been around since 2000, has never really caught on. My guess is that the term RSS feed sounds too scary for the general population, and the word subscription connotes a financial commitment in order to access the content. Regardless, you can use either (or both) for your blog.
HubSpot offers three default RSS feed urls for your blog content: your general blog feed, a blog topic feed, and a blog author feed. No major coding is necessary here; the feed url is created simply by adding /rss.xml to the blog/topic/author url address. You can choose to make these available to your blog readers publicly, or continue to use HubSpot’s default mail subscription options.
HubSpot RSS feeds; not very inboundy but. . . . .
As you may have surmised at this point, an RSS feed allows a user to subscribe to your blog without providing an email address. Additionally, while Hubspot can track how many RSS subscribers you have (find it on the marketing dashboard), it can’t identify them, as they have not converted on a form. So why use a tool that lacks basic inboundy-ness??
Savvy blog visitors are often wary of subscribing to a blog via email for fear of having their addresses hijacked for other marketing communications. In addition some blog email subscriptions are fronts for phishing and other nefarious web activity. Publishing your RSS feed allows you to offer your content in a safe, non-intrusive way. Even if your RSS feed URL is not publicly available, savvy blog consumers will figure out the feed url and subscribe to your blog anyway.
To RSS or not to RSS; that is the question . . .
. . . . and frankly, the answer is up to you. If your audience spans the gamut of non-techy to techy visitors, adding the RSS feed url could be a good step. Even though you may not have direct email contact with RSS subscribers, the presence of RSS subscribers indicates that there are prospects who find your content valuable. If you continue to publish valuable content, chances are good they will convert elsewhere on your site.
Other uses for RSS
HubSpot offers other options to use RSS feeds for inboundy purposes. For example, a monthly RSS email of your blog posts is a great alternative to your monthly newsletter, and can be fully automated. Find out more about RSS emails here (scroll down to Step 6). You can also use the author- or topics-RSS feeds in conjunction with RSS modules on your static pages to spotlight content by popular blog authors (a great for influencer marketing), or bring awareness to a specific topic (great for new product releases). Find out how to add an RSS module to your site page or landing page here. Finally, if other blogs or websites want to share your content, they can easily do so with your RSS feeds (see above to learn how to generate your RSS feed url).
Got any other great ideas for RSS feeds? Add them below and share the love.
*When you enter a RSS URL into Chrome, it will show a scary error message and a mound of XML data. Don’t panic; nothing is broken.
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