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More retailers using RSS web feeds

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Monday March 13, 2006 )

With AOL getting into greedmail and users’ email inboxes becoming crammed generally; some bigger online retailers are awakening to the possibilities of RSS. As always, it’s the simple ideas that are often the best and the good news is that you don’t need the budget of a multinational to implement some of the RSS strategies that are proving successful – total cost $0 … if you do the work yourself of course :).

So, here’s the idea – and kudos to E-commerce Times for publishing the story and retailers such as eBags for explaining it.

Quite simply, instead of having a single feed happening for your online/offline store, you can really target each product or line of products with a feed for each.

For example, if I’m thinking of buying a plasma TV, I may not be swayed by offers of other products in an RSS feed – I just want plasma TV related info. By implementing a feed just related to that line of products, and most importantly, making site visitors aware that the feed exists, you’ll be delivering exactly what a potential customer wants to see. They’ll receive notifications of new models and special offers directly to their desktop each time they check whatever reader they are using.

I believe this would work better with higher priced products and services as these are the items that consumers would be prepared to spend some time researching before purchase.

I keep saying this, but it is worthwhile repeating – while the term RSS still draws blank stares from many people at present, this is changing – thanks in part to the effort of publishers in explaining the concept and a boost along by Firefox’s support of RSS. But the rocket ride for RSS will really begin with Internet Explorer 7’s RSS support aka “web feeds”.

In regards to flagging the existence of a web feed to consumers, the general consensus is that the old “RSS/XML” button is on its way out and the orange icon with a dot in the bottom left hand corner with two radiating curved lines is going to be very much in. You can see it on the left hand side of this page. Firefox already uses it and Microsoft will be using it in IE7. It also pays to have an explanatory page about what an RSS/web feed is – give people step by step instructions, links to free readers etc. We can all play a part in educating our various audiences about RSS.

If you’re going to be using RSS feeds, it’s important that you also have the “auto-discovery” code in place so that browsers can detect a feed on your site and alert the user to its existence. Firefox, Opera and Safari can auto discover feeds, and IE7 will be able to as well.

Learn more about RSS auto discovery

Learn more about creating RSS web feeds.


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