February 15, 2006
Convert RSS Feed for Mobile Readers
I'm not sure if mobilize is a word, but if not, it will become one soon. Not because I used it, because the mobile device is getting more powerful, more common and more useful as a business tool.
Blog readers are now subscribing to and reading blogs using mobile phones and PDAs. From what little research I have done there is an entire version of HTML just for mobile reading. While converting all of your web pages, blog posts and RSS feeds to mobile standards may well make sense, it looks like a pretty big undertaking.
A fairly new service called Winksite allows you to easily turn your current blog RSS feed into a version that can be consumed very nicely by mobile readers. Click on the winksite button in this feed and see an emulated view of how a mobile reader would see the Duct Tape Marketing blog feed.
Using this new technology certainly comes under the heading of coolness, but I think that it also supports one of my major marketing principles as well - deliver your marketing message in as many forms and formats as you can.
The service also allows you to create mobile content beyond your blog including journal entries, forum posts and lists of syndicated feeds.
February 14, 2006
Aggregated and Filtered Content Is King
Let's face it, no matter what your business card says, you are probably in the information business.
Want verification of this from a Pulitzer Prize winning author? Go pick up a copy of Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat. It's a big book, but by page 45 or so you will come to understand that only those who can make information more valuable will survive.
Just a few years ago the rallying cry on the web was - content is king. Not so much anymore. I can find a person with a reasonable command of the English language to crank out 50, web page length articles in a week, for about $100. And, Google's AdSense program has incentivized all the Internet marketers to create this kind of content for ad revenue sake.
The crush of content that the average person has to consume is out of control.
So, the answer? Find, create, enhance, package and distribute content - aggregate it, filter it and make it more useful. That's your job.
And for that job, RSS, and the various tools lumped into the RSS bucket provide the power.
For the self-proclaimed computer geek, the RSS tools and open APIs are an unlocked candy store. But, you know that already.
For the average small business guy or gal, the ease of implementing these once foreign applications makes using RSS beyond blog posts a simple proposition.
Here are some ways companies are using the automatic distribution features of RSS
- Keep customers informed about their company, products, services and promotions
- Update employees and associates about company matters and events
- Aggregate and publish news headlines and stories of interest to clients
- Collect and filter sales intelligence
- Send daily communication to salespersons
- Track changes to real estate and auction listings
- Publish news and news releases to various web pages
- Advertise job opening
- Recommed and update books from Amazon
- Republish FAQs and support forum headlines
- Promote random sales and special offerings
- Provide product or service updates to buyers and owners
- Create and send training programs to employees
- Publish calendars or events and company happenings
- Research competition and competitive keywords
- Send daily tips and other marketing communications
Your job is to learn about this tool and then take what your learn and find creative ways to apply it in order to make the information that your provide, the content you provide, more valuable.
Here is a list of sites to help you get started on the "uses for RSS: journey (The list below is a BlinkList - a tool you may find useful in your information business)
- Uses for RSS
- B-Talk.com :: Go Tell The World
- Time saving uses for RSS
- RSSCalendar.com - Features
- RSS Workshop - a Tutorial
- RSS Marketing and Real-Life Marketing Experience
- Uses of RSS
- RSS Wave: Good Examples Of Newsmaster Sites - Robin Good` Sharewood Tidings
- RSS Responder - Scheduled, reliable, personalised communication with your customer, avoiding email filters
- tonneten library :: syndication: Uses of RSS
- Basement.org: Taking RSS Beyond Headlines : Part One
February 12, 2006
RSS Ads Don't Follow the Contextual Logic
Interesting post from Heather Green at Business Week regarding advertising in RSS feeds. She interviews Feedburner's Dick Costello who is discovering that contextual ads in RSS feeds don't do as well as ads simply focused on the demographic of the reader.
This turns the typical ad model (blog about cameras gets ads about camera gear) on its ear a bit, but I think may make ads in RSS feeds a little more intersting.
It does make sense when you think about it. A blog viewer who comes to blog by way of search is, at the moment, focused on finding very specific information, including ads that relate to that information.
An RSS reader or subscriber may read the feed out of habit and be more open to reading and responding to an ad that hits other subjects.
May 30, 2005
RSS - Great tool or the latest version of spam
You can't go many places on the Internet these days without hearing about the virtues of RSS. As a marketing tool, communication tool, distribution tool, it certainly has some wonderful attributes. But, as with many useful Internet tools, it now is in danger of becoming this year's comment spam.
The Internet marketing guru crowd has a knack for finding the easy way to get short term marketing results for things and then packaging them up as the next great thing. The net result is a white hot tool that burns out in a blaze of overuse and search engine abuse.
In my opinion, RSS is headed down that path. There is no denying its long term usefulness as a means for delivering information and the next round of web browsers will certainly incorporate RSS reading, but one of the great values of RSS when it comes to blogs in particular, is the ability to distribute frequently updated pages that search engines adore.
Once that light bulb went on in the guru's head, the party was over. Spam blogs will soon take over real content blogs in number. A spam blog is a blog that is set-up to reproduce the content of many real blogs, via RSS feeds, based on keywords. To the reader with eyeballs, the blog has no value. The search engine spider, well, its hard to tell. In some cases the spammers are actually reproducing the exact content of well-read blogs.
Search engines will eventually choke on this new form of spam and will have to reconsider how they index and count it. When that happens the gurus will move on to something else but the effectiveness of RSS as a tool for real blogs may be damaged.
Okay, other than ranting about this, let me add. Don't buy or use software or programs that promise to create thousands of keyword rich pages for you with the push of a button. On the surface this may seem to have some appeal but it's cheating. And cheating is no way to build a business. If you are out to promote a thing and make a tiny bit of cash on the Internet, then those types of things may allow you to do so. But if you intend to build a business or a brand and actually create something of value, do it the old fashioned way.
Create good content, integrate your web site, blog and ezine newsletter, and keep at it month after month.
May 08, 2005
Make Auto Discovery One More Subscription Option
Sometimes visitors to your blog or web site want to find your RSS link so they can subscribe but get tired of looking around for it. (That's really another story though isn't it)
With just a bit of HTML trickery you can allow aggregators like Bloglines, FeedDemon and NewsGator to automatically find your RSS feed. All the user needs to do now is enter your site's URL and the feed will be added. Firefox has an autodiscovery feature that shows a little button in the browser bar when it discovers a feed. Again, all the user does is right click the icon and they subscribe using whatever RSS reader they already have configured.
Create the following HTML code and replace the feed title and url with your own and then paste this code in the <head> tag of your page.
<link rel='alternate' type='application/rss+xml' title='Your Feed Title' href='Yourfeedurl'>
Many blog services such as Typepad already do this for you but this can be particularly useful if you want to promote your feed on other pages of your web site.
March 28, 2005
Interview on Corporate Blogging
I was interviewed this week at Marketing Studies on the subject of corporate blogging.
Have a listen
Some of the topics covered in this interview:
- Steps to producing a blog that won top honors by MarketingSherpa.com readers.
- The difference between e-zines and blogs, especially in terms of the marketing affects of each.
- Is there a difference in the products you can market via blogs and via e-zines and direct e-mail marketing?
- The gap between different content delivery channels, such as RSS and e-mail.
- And much more. . .
These are the folks that produced THE guide to Marketing & Publishing with RSS
February 25, 2005
You Learn To Blog Like You Learn Most Things
About once a week I get an email from someone who wants to know how they should get started blogging. I used to launch into a discussion about software and various options for hosting and driving traffic, but lately I've come to the conclusion that you get started blogging like you get started doing a lot things. So, here's my new answer. To get started blogging I suggest you do the following 3 things. 1) Download an RSS reader or subscribe to a web based service. Favorites for me are FeedDemon for RSS reader and Bloglines for web based. [Here's a good Business Blogging Resources Page too] 2) Go to Bloglines or some other Blog Directory and find blogs that are somehow related to what you want to blog about. [Bloglines make this pretty easy as it will suggest relevant blogs and FeedDemon will seemlessly integrate the two] 3) Now, just read for about 30 days. To me, that is the best way to get started on the right track. Learn what other's are doing and find out how you might do a better job of it.