In the last two websites we launched, both clients brought up the same observation right before launch. “We don’t see RSS on our blog platform. Can we add it in?” After responding to the latest on why it wasn’t there, I was sitting at home and realized we failed the client on both cases by not taking the 2 minutes to make the strategy of RSS part of the web build conversation. This couples with the latest comment I heard internally which was “why not just have it available so those who are adamant to consume content via RSS can?”
The answer is just because an RSS tool is cheap and easy to plug-in doesn’t mean it’s strategically smart to do so. So let me explain the business case and the technological case on why it’s not smart for your company to use RSS.
Disclaimer: This post does not apply to all. RSS is smart for some. But if you rely on a content marketing model to generate new leads, this post is for you.
The Business Case – Why RSS is Not for You
It’s A Blind Conversion: RSS is a tool that lets someone grab the content from your site and have it fed to him or her within their preferred RSS reader. They don’t have to tell you who they are and they don’t have to come back to your site to continue to get your content. For a content marketer who is leveraging content to build a leads database and then using CTA workflows and automation to nurture that lead, the idea of RSS is a thorn in a content strategy.
Google Analytics loses some of its power: RSS reads don’t count for on-page views, time spent on-page, etc. within your Google Analytics instance. This makes it difficult to know if your content is on strategy. As a content marketer it’s important to know which topics we’re writing about get consumed the most and what is consumed the least. It allows us to adjust our expertise to write toward the market interest. If a decent size audience is consuming via RSS then a large statistical opportunity has been removed to contribute to your topical analysis.
The Technological Case – Why RSS is Not for You
This chart by Andrew Chen clearly illustrates the quick decline of RSS interest since it’s peak in 2006.
The reason for this is due to a then early, but spot on analysis by Steve Gillmore of TechCrunch. Steve made the case that the ever popular RSS was being replaced by social influence. People began using social platforms to see what their friends and trusted peers were reading and sharing and began consuming that content more frequently than their RSS.
Then the actions of Google showed the biggest proof for this concept. In 2005 they launched Google Reader and it became the most popular RSS reader. Then Google launched Google+ in 2011 and by 2013 Google completely shut down Google Reader killing the most popular RSS reader on the internet. The reason was simple, Search, Android, and Google+ were now the strategic priorities of Google and Larry Page no long saw RSS as a strategic business product.
Where You Should Focus:
You probably are already doing it. Just make sure your content is fully integrated with the big social platforms you’re involved in and choose to not activate the cost friendly RSS on the sole premise of “because we can” and “we had it previously.” By focusing only on social integration, it allows your content to go viral yet brings those readers into your site, unlike RSS. This aligns with your content marketing strategy for using your highly valued content to create new opportunity.