Content Delivery Options
When meeting recently with a client, we were discussing the variety of content delivery options for your business’s website. The more we talked, the more confused she became between the differences between RSS Feeds native to a website, RSS Feeds via Feedburner, RSS Feeds via Branded E-Mail, and Traditional Branded E-Newsletters such as those configured to be sent via MailChimp, Constant Contact, or other commercial e-mail newsletter system.
What is a Feed?
Google provides this description for a feed:
Feeds are a way for websites large and small to distribute their content well beyond just visitors using browsers. Feeds permit subscription to regular updates, delivered automatically via a web portal, news reader, or in some cases good old email. Feeds also make it possible for site content to be packaged into “widgets,” “gadgets,” mobile devices, and other bite-sized technologies that make it possible to display blogs, podcasts, and major news/sports/weather/whatever headlines just about anywhere.
Read Write Web goes further with this definition of RSS feeds:
“powerfully simple technology that delivers new content from multiple websites to one single place you’ve subscribed to RSS feeds from…”
Syndication allows your website visitors to have control over how they receive your content and when. It is a cornerstone of the “pull” marketing that epitomizes the social web. While many debate the merits of the future of RSS Feeds, the fact is that an RSS Feed coupled with a content delivery platform can extend your content’s reach in a brand consistent manner.
Content Delivery System Differences
With RSS feeds, you may choose when to publish, but the end consumer determines when to read or view your content.
RSS—Users may subscribe to your website feeds using their reader or their browser. Some readers are packaged with email programs such as Outlook, and some are available in your browser like Google Reader. One of the advantages of a WordPress CMS is that feeds are “baked in” as part of the WordPress system. Your web developer may customize your feed using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), but most of the popular readers will not support them.
RSS Feeds via Feedburner—Users may subscribe to receive your site’s updates via e-mail or via their reader. Feedburner keeps a subscribers list that you may monitor and export. And there are WordPress plugins that bring your Feedburner statistics into your WordPress dashboard so you may stay updated on feed use. Additionally, Feedburner provides methods for you to promote your feeds in you self-hosted WordPress site. These include email signature promotion and social sharing.
RSS Feeds Using Branded E-mail—Joins the power of RSS and branded content with email. MailChimp, ExactTarget, Constant Contact and other e-news providers allow you to create and configure an e-mail campaign to your subscriber/opt-in list using a custom-designed template consistent with your brand standards. The advantage of this is that it provides your content to your subscribers on a schedule you set, e.g. delivery upon publication, once a day, or once a week, in a manner that supports your brand. This is a hybrid of e-news and RSS feeds.
Traditional Branded E-Newsletters—Subscribers may add their names to your list and receive e-newsletters when you decide to publish them. You set the schedule, you determine the content, you format and send. You are in control of the delivery schedule, not the subscriber. This is permission marketing using push concepts. So while the subscriber has given you permission to send them content, you do it when you wish to. With RSS feeds, you may choose when to publish, but the end consumer determines when to read or view your content.
We’ve created this handy chart outlining some of the benefits of the different types of feeds to you. Perhaps this will help you keep them sorted in your brain. Because we know it can be confusing!