Marketing With RSS – This Week’s Notables

Two items of note this week, both looking at how RSS is more than just blogging, and how it fits into marketing your business.

MarketingProfs is offering a 90-minute webinar entitled “Better Than Email Marketing? Rss Demystified

RSS is a simple to use tool that allows marketers to easily, inexpensively and quickly get their content delivered to their customers, prospects, business partners, the media, employees and practically everyone else you can imagine. And without fear of your content being stopped by content and spam filters on the way.

With failing e-mail delivery rates and changing online consumer behavior, RSS is becoming an increasingly important online content delivery tool and has already been established as the key supplement to e-mail marketing. And with Microsoft’s recent announcement of full RSS integration in their next operating system — including full Internet Explorer, Outlook and Outlook Express support — RSS will find its way in to mainstream publishing.

The cost is $99, and the seminar will be recorded.  There’s a full rundown at

The same group also has a new free article named “Your 7-Step RSS Marketing Plan

As an alternative to email, RSS is becoming an increasingly important content delivery channel that allows marketers to deliver all of their content, fully upgrade all of their marketing initiatives and establish lasting client relationships.

Whether direct marketing, PR, e-commerce, internal communications, online publishing, SEO, traffic generation or customer relationship management, RSS brings the power of delivery back to the hands of marketers.

But most marketers still do not know how to actually get started with RSS, especially when trying to take its power beyond basic blogging.


Florists: How optimized blogs boost search engine visibility

Specifically, to optimize blog entries for search engines, MoreVisibilty advises its business clients using blogs on their site to focus on a very limited set of keywords in any blog updates. The main keywords should appear it the title of the blog entry, and the same keywords should also be mentioned one to three times in the blog entry itself, based on its length.


Content For Your Blog

One of the best sources of content ideas are the statistics for your website.  If you run your own website, your host should have a statistics package that gives you summary information, or you can look in the raw log files.  What you want to find are the search engine referrals–the phrases people typed into the search engine that led them to your site.  You want to dig through these search phrases, and find ones that relate to your business.  By focusing a blog posting on these phrases, you’ll draw people to that blog post when they search for these terms.  Make sure you link to specific products or categories on your site.

If you remember Chad and Bob talking about “search engine optimization”, this is one part of doing that.  The idea is to put content on your site or blog that is interesting to potential customers, and that will be found in the search engines, hopefully turning searchers into customers.

Slide Notes

In addition to all the information I have on my slides, I was making notes all through the breakfast and early session to work into my presentation as well.  I’ve numbered the slides here, but you’ll have to count them on the printed copy:

Slides 9-10: Why blog?
As we heard in the breakfast session, consumers want/need educational material.  A blog is a great place to put some of this information.  You could create a section on your blog for “Care and Handling Tips”, and have posts for the different types of flowers and arrangements.

Mike’s study also found that the greatest barrier for younger consumers is that they don’t know how or what to order.  These consumers probably do know how to read a blog, so adding content to your blog that is very basic could help draw younger customers to your shop.  I can almost guarantee a series of posts about corsages and boutonnieres as prom season approaches would be a great draw, and you could probably sell some different styles merely by highlighting them.

Slide 12: Blogs as a marketing tool
“Customer evangelism” is a fancy new term for “word of mouth”.  This is where your loyal (or PO’d) customers talk about you, good or bad.  Be careful what you say or do, as it may be easily broadcast to thousands.  Personal blogs will tip the balance of business to consumer interactions back toward the consumer again.

Slide 13: What to blog about
Do you have e-mail newsletters like Chad, Marty and Tina?  Put copies on your blog!  You can keep the newsletter special by delaying posting for a couple of days.  As I mentioned in a previous slide, there is a growing reluctance for consumers to give out their e-mail address.  Blogs are anonymous, so there will be a certain percentage of consumers who would rather read a blog.  But, if they see great value in your newsletter, they might sign up.  Blogs and e-mail marketing are complementary technologies, and it would be good to do both.

Slide 14: Where to get content
SAF gave us great “Hip givers guides” at breakfast.  You have a number of great ideas in there.  Mike’s presentation has some interesting statistics–some you’ll want to share, and some you’ll want to use to plan content.

Presentation Posted

I’ve posted my presentation at  To navigate the menus, go to, and then Articles & Presentations >> Presentations.

The file is PDF format, so you’ll need Acrobat Reader to open it.  Almost everyone has Acrobat Reader, but if you don’t, you can get it for free at  If you need the slides in a different format, let me know (you can catch me at rich-at-bloomery-dot-com).

SAF 2005 Wrap-Up

Thanks to everyone who attended our session today.  The room looked packed, and I know Chad, Brian, Bob and myself enjoyed sharing what we’ve done and answering your questions. We had several conference calls and e-mails to make sure we covered a wide variety of topics, and I know we hope everyone got a lot out of the session.

One question I think I failed to have a concrete answer for is “What is a blog”, leaving some people feeling I didn’t answer it at all.  I’ll try and clear it up a little here.

As I mentioned in my presentation, a blog is really several technologies working together–data storage, presentation, and administration.  Data storage is usually a file format called RSS, presentation is usually handled by templates created in XSLT, and administration is the back end where you enter and maintain your blog posts.  Data storage and presentation are what make blogs so difficult to define concretely.

In a web browser, a blog (such as the one you’re reading) looks like a web page with a number of short articles on it.  In an aggregator (a program that downloads RSS files so you can read and manage the posts off-line), the blog entries look just like e-mails.  Same exact data, just a different presentation.

This is where things get really cool.  Remember Chad’s wedding gallery?  You can find it at  Visit his site, open any gallery, and then open any album.  Look down in the lower right-hand corner of the album.  You’ll see a little orange button with a white “RSS” label.  With Chad’s gallery software, you can use a blog aggregator to subscribe to any of their albums.  When you first subscribe, you’ll download all the photos in the album, each like an individual e-mail.  As they add additional photos, your aggregator will automatically download each one as a separate message. 

Does this mean their photo gallery is a blog?  In a way, yes.  It uses the same data storage (RSS), and templates to manage the presentation.  In a web browser, it looks like a web page; in an aggregator, each photo will be a separate message.  One of the main differences is the administration part.  Chad’s gallery is geared toward the uploading of photos, and short comments.  The blogging app I use on this site is geared toward entering a lot of text data, but with some ability to upload photos as well.

The software I use at has both a blog and a photo gallery built in together.  Why not–they’re practically the same thing!

I hope this helps clarify a little what a blog is.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a concrete definition, and that’s just because blogs are so flexible that they can be many things.

Prepping for SAF

I’m testing Kevin Daly’s Diarist app on my Axim. I plan to do a live blog demo at SAF from my PDA, if the wi-fi works in the room.

I used the first version a little, but this more recent relese is much improved. Great job and thanks, Kevin!