February 9, 2010

Get Your RSS Numbers Growing Again


Hostway Team

By Gail Seymour

If you have RSS feeds on your Web site, and you track the subscribers using FeedBurner, you may have noticed after a while that your number of subscribers stagnates, and it becomes difficult to grow. That's because your subscriber base relies on three factors: the reach of your promotions, the conversion rate of new subscribers, and the attrition rate, or rate at which you are losing subscribers.

Increase Your Reach

If you want to attract more RSS subscribers, you can expose more people to the offer. You're already doing everything you can to drive traffic to your Web site, but now it's time to concentrate on increasing the reach of your RSS feed beyond people who have already visited. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Submit your RSS feed to other major feed directories such as Feedage.com, RSSfeeddirectory.org, 5z5.com, RSSfeeds.com, feedzilla.com and bloglines.com.
  • Encourage email subscribers to switch to RSS to get updates on their terms rather than yours.
  • Go where your customers go. Make sure your business has a presence on social networking sites and post prominent links to your RSS feeds there. It's also possible to set up automated posts to your social profiles using your RSS feed. All of your followers will then receive links to new posts on your RSS feeds. They won't show up as subscribers in your FeedBurner account, though.

Increase Your Conversion Rate

Use a FeedBurner button displaying the subscriber count on your Web site. If you have a healthy number there, that can encourage new subscribers, as it's an indication that other people find your content compelling enough to subscribe to.

Test different ways of encouraging Web site visitors to subscribe with different text on your pages. Consider using Google ads aimed at encouraging subscriptions. Remember to highlight the benefits to your customers of subscribing to your updates.

Decrease the Attrition Rate

All your efforts to find new subscribers will be wasted if you're losing them as fast as you're finding them. Track your subscriber growth, or loss, against individual posts, and see if you can identify things that cause your followers to unsubscribe. If you find anything, reconsider the way you're presenting that information and how you can alter it to please your readers more.

Keep asking yourself how you can let more people know about your RSS feeds, how you can communicate the value to viewers, and how you can make the feed more valuable, and your subscriber base will begin to grow again. Here’s a great blog post with 10 more simple ways to gain RSS subscribers. (Notice that this blog has more than 2,000 RSS subscribers.)

But, remember, as RSS is an anonymous opt-in service, you will never have an entirely accurate count of your readers. In the end, it's not about the number of subscribers, but the value exchange between you and them. If you are offering valuable timely information, your RSS feed will be an invaluable promotional tool. If not, maintaining it will just be another drain on already stretched resources.

About the Author

Gail Seymour has been a Web site designer for more than ten years. During that time she has won three Sitesell design awards, and has provided the content and copy for dozens of Web sites and more than 50,000 Web pages.

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