Here’s a test you can conduct today in your local High Street. Grab a clipboard and ask 100 people whether they have heard of “email”. Ask them also if they have heard of “RSS”. Then ask them another question: ask which of these two communication systems they have ever used. The chances are almost everyone will have heard of email and most of them will be using it. But as for RSS, most people will say “RS what?”. In spite of the online world having links to “RSS feeds” and even though Google gives us almost 33m pages for the term “RSS Reader”, few people outside the world of technology are bothered by RSS; it is a complete mystery to them.
So it begs the question, why do so many blogs and website insist we “subscribe via RSS”? And it also makes me wonder how many people actually do that? Well, thankfully the kind folks at HubSpot have just completed a study on this very issue – and guess what? Yes, that’s right, RSS doesn’t really get a look in. In fact, the research shows that 12 times as many people subscribe to blogs via email than they do via RSS feeds. In other words, the old technology wins hands down over the new.
For several years now, people have been predicting the death of email. It has yet to materialise. Every time someone makes the suggestion that email is on the way out, along comes more research to prove the opposite. Indeed, on the same day that HubSpot published its research, another study was released which shows that spam email succeeds because half of us open emails we already believe to be spam based on the subject line alone. In other words, we may complain about spam, but many of us still look at it. It’s yet more evidence of the power of email.
So, what should your business be doing and how can you get more readers for your blog? The answer is to offer email subscriptions to your blog so that people can receive your regular articles in their inbox. You can do this using the services of Google’s Feedburner system, for instance. Or you can try FeedBlitz which offers a more sophisticated service. (If you want to subscribe to this blog via email just subscribe here.)
You can also offer digests of your blog via email using services such as ZinePal which allows you to automate the production of a regular PDF file of your blog which can then be emailed. (If you want the weekly digest of this blog go to this link and choose an option from the bottom of the page.)
But whatever you do, do not ignore the power of email. Even though people complain about email overload, even though they moan about spam and even though they say it is tired, old technology, almost all of the people who could connect with your business would rather do it via email.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+