Which is better – Email or RSS?

I am inclined to think that most of you reading this article have only ever employed email subscriptions to reach out to the readers of your blog. In fact, a few of you might raise an eyebrow and think “RS – what?” Yes, email seems to be the platform of choice for bloggers all around the world. There’s a reason for it, and this article is about inquiring into what they are.

‘RSS’ or ‘Real Simple Syndicate’ is a way of ‘syndicating’ or ‘grouping’ your blog to a joint platform from where other websites can use your content within their own, thereby increasing your blog’s outreach. The entire concept of RSS precludes spam – the one thorn in the flesh of email marketing – and at a superficial first glance, it seems like an excellent idea. Doesn’t it? No, it doesn’t. Here’s why:

People Don’t Use RSS Feeds, They Use Email

RSS-vs-email

RSS vs Email

How many RSS readers can you name without Googling? I could name two – a Palaeolithic antique named Google Reader, and Flipboard – the software Microsoft forced you to install with Windows 8.1. Upon Googling, I came across two more: NetNewsWire and FeedDemon. Scratching your head, are you? So did I.

And I’m not even going to ask you to name email clients, the list will take the rest of the day to complete.

The point is, RSS may be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but if your readers don’t use it, it is useless to you. Most internet users are so attuned to their emails that most of them never clicked on the icon below, and it has been around since 2004 as the official symbol for RSS feeds. On the other hand, pretty much every internet user I’ve ever spoken to turns out to have subscribed to at least a few blogs that cater to their interests.

RSS

Above: the marketing equivalent of MySpace

Email Allows Better Control Over Marketing

RSS feeds may have the benefit of avoiding Spam, and those (few) who regularly use RSS feeds will undoubtedly catch your latest content, but that doesn’t give you the power to personally contact your readers when something new or exciting that you know they’ll love comes up. Why? Because you don’t have their email IDs, silly. Moreover, in an RSS feed, you’re just a face in the crowd of information your readers receive, there’s no personal touch to your interaction with them.

If you use emails, IDs are the first thing you get. This enables you to send your loyal readers regular newsletters, something that has been statistically demonstrated to lead to frequent website visits. A newsletter means that your readers will exclusively spend a few minutes looking at your content, as distinct from passively glazing through your work while flipping through a hundred similar pages. Email: 2, RSS: 0.

In Conclusion…

If you only have time to focus on a single platform for interacting with your readers, then don’t risk not resorting to email. That said, who said you can’t do both? It’s marketing – it’s the more the merrier!

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Shriya Garg

A book-lover with dual degrees in finance, Shriya has created (and abandoned) eight blogs, started her first company at 12, published two books (first one at 16), edited dozens for others, and worked with five interesting startups in her career so far. Prior to joining ContentNinja, she worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and has a deferred admit from ISB, Hyderabad. She is an SLP Fellow and a Quora Top Writer. When she’s not fielding client calls, she can be found cleaning cat hair from her clothes.

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