Are RSS Subscriber Numbers Bogus?

RSS Marketing

One of the things you’ve heard from me over and over is to focus on subscriber acquisition as the main focus of blogging. Getting people to voluntarily pay attention to you over time is your goal, because it’s the cornerstone of permission marketing.

Whether you’re dealing with RSS or email subscriptions, not all subscribers are equal. People abandon RSS readers, ignore your content without unsubscribing, or simply don’t check in all that often.

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Will RSS Ever Go Mainstream?

RSS Marketing

When I first started Copyblogger, I was a huge RSS evangelist. As a long-time email marketing guy, I was sick to death of overzealous filters, deliverability issues and the low-level of trust people had for online publishers thanks to the spammers.

Over two years later, email is still very much alive. That fact is most evident with my other projects, but even here at Copyblogger over 6,000 people subscribe by email and they tend to be the most responsive.

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The Real Secret to Getting Tons of
Blog Subscribers

RSS Buttons

It’s still the question I get asked the most.

Despite writing on this subject several times, and basically spilling the beans on every tip and tactic I know for converting site visitors into regular readers, people seem to think I’m holding out. Most every time I speak with a fellow blogger on the phone, or meet someone in person, inevitably some variation of the following question will arise:

OK, so level with me… how’s you get all those subscribers? What’s the real secret?

No one wants to believe that there’s no magical secret. They’d rather fantasize about some forbidden copywriting technique that drives subscriber attraction. If I’d just share the magical words that make the difference, they’d immediately put those words to use.

OK, I give up. I’ll tell you the real secret.

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Permission Marketing 2.0

Before I continue with the SEO Copywriting 2.0 series, I want to interject a bit of perspective. With all the talk about links, traffic, Digg, social media marketing and the pursuit of search engine rankings, it’s important to remember what matters most for business-oriented bloggers.


The importance of subscriber acquisition is getting its fair share of attention within the social media space, which is good. Darren Rowse recently posted on the value of conduits like Digg and other social media traffic sources to build up your own subscriber-based community over time.

And in the SEO world, Andy Hagens and Michael Gray have touched on the topic as well. They call subscriber attraction and retention a key element in a “defensible traffic” strategy that frees you from the tyranny of search engine algorithm hiccups.

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How to Sell RSS (Or Where the Feed Fanboys Drop the Ball)

I see these lists all the time, and they never cease to amaze me.

Steve Rubel offers us a post entitled “35 Ways You Can Use RSS Today.”

Here’s a few samples:

Get hotel deals from Marriott
Learn a new word every day using RSS
Track the latest sales with Dealcatcher
Subscribe to the Target circular
Subscribe to movie reviews

Go ahead and check out all 35 if you’d like.

Now, tell me — couldn’t you rewrite that headline to read:

“35 Ways People Used Email in 1998 (And Still Do Today)”

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Is RSS Like CB Radio?

Imagine if ATT had decided to send all of its telephone subscribers a free CB radio back in the 1970s, just to make sure the company was at the forefront of an exciting new communications technology that was sweeping the nation. Mass adoption of trucker tech by the general population would have been a silly thing for a monopoly to gamble on, right?

Seth Godin today looks back at the CB radio craze of the 70s, and specifically how people at the time mistook a niche fascination for a larger trend. The post concludes with Seth asking whether RSS feeds are akin to a true killer-app like email, or destined to join GeoCities in the discarded technology dustbin.

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