RSS feeds are an auto-pilot, spam-free, efficient way to read news and weblogs. For Salesmakers to get the most out of newsfeeds, you need a news aggregator, though, that lets you organize, search, categorize and use news items just like emails.
RSS is one of those WebTools that you have heard about but are not sure what benefits you might receive from using it and even less likely to know how to actually set it up. Virtually every website and blog has the familiar orange RSS icon with or without “Subscribe” next to it. You will find the RSS feed for our Fill the Funnel Blog in the upper right hand corner.
Let me explain what an RSS Feed is and how to use it from the perspective of a Salesmaker. For our purposes RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a way to publish and subscribe to frequently updated content like blog entries and news items over the web. Think of this as a way to assemble your own customized online newspaper with the information you have selected as important to you. There are RSS readers/aggregators that work in virtually every computing platform from PC to Mac to Linux and even Mobile. If you want to receive feeds, you will need to decide on how you would like to do that. Most common approaches are to view your feed in your Browser or in your Email client. If you are an iPhone or Blackberry user you might want to consider a Mobile Client as well.
I have integrated RSS feeds and a Reader into my daily sales routine in the following way: As I do my web research, follow-up, strategy and meeting preparation, I am always on the lookout for the RSS icon. If there is useful, relevant information that I would like to keep up to date on, I click on the Icon and Subscribe to the feed. If the information I am reviewing is static, there is no need to grab the feed. Only ongoing, changing information is what I want to subscribe to. Over a period of time your collection of feeds will grow. I find it important to scrub through my list once a month or so, and delete those that have become less relevant over time. I have also found it useful to subscribe to the feeds of my major competitors. Always good to keep an eye on them as well.
Here are a few of the leading readers and services that I have found useful:
- FeedDemon– is a clean and well thought-out approach to reading RSS feeds. Easy to configure and use, FeedDemon still has a very comprehensive feature set and hardly any weak spots. Be aware that FeedDemon is not an email client but a separate application. Related to the Newsgator services below.
- GoogleReader-is a decidedly simple yet very usable and, thanks to a flexible labeling system, quite comprehensive web-based RSS feed reader.
- NetVibes-acts like your personal home page. Everything that matters to you — blogs, news, weather, videos, photos, social networks, email and much more — is automatically updated every time you visit your page.
- Newsgator-make your RSS feed follow you. Using intelligent subscription and item synchronization, you can read news on the web, via POP email, on a mobile device or in NewsGator for Outlook. Unfortunately, the NewsGator Online Services web edition lacks a bit in features and functionality.
- Outgoing Feeds from Fill the Funnel: – FeedBurner Now owned by Google, you need a Google account for this as well.
There are hundreds of other options available and Mashable.com provides the most thorough Resource Guide that I have found titled: The Ultimate RSS Toolbox – 120+ RSS Resources. Bookmark that list and you should be good to go.
RSS feeds may give you that competitive edge and gain that next customer. Let us know how you are using RSS feeds.