My summer project is finally in play!
My law firm in Vancouver, Canada is announcing today the launch of 14 RSS feeds for our firm publications. The feeds will contain the headlines from our various newsletter articles and e-bulletins, and will provide instant notification when we publish to the website.
One of the really interesting aspects of this project (for me) was the use of RSS outside of the blogging world. Too often RSS gets tied to blogs and isn't valued for the great information delivery tool it is. With more and more email getting caught in spam filters, alternative technologies are really needed. RSS not only delivers instantly upon publication, but it's pretty much guaranteed to arrive to those who request it. For law firms, who are often worried about protecting client privacy, RSS is the ultimate in permission marketing – clients are in control, with the choice to subscribe completely in their hands.
The project itself took about a month to complete, with a couple of weeks of ugly PERL programming. The big problem – the DB software I use didn't have RSS built in, and because it was an older version (and the one I like…), somebody else wasn't likely to pick up the torch for me. Ultimately I was able to piece things together and make it work. The code even validates. :-0 … For others undertaking this type of project, take comfort that most CMS software (and Blog software) these days has RSS already built in.
For metrics, I chose the Feedburner service to provide a running subscriber count and content request tracking. With the majority of subscribers using Bloglines and other web-based readers, Feed metrics are unfortunately a bit lacking. This was one of the big reasons behind providing 'headline feeds' and directing users back to our website. Once on our website, our HBX web-stats account will kick in, and provide much better traffic analysis. I also have Feedburner's web friendly interface enabled to 'pretty up' the XML code.
At last count, over 6 million Americans were using RSS aggregators. And here in Canada, with sources like the CBC and the Canadian Government taking part, our offerings are multiplying by the day. I understand and expect that the adoption rate for this type of service will take time, but as clients start to embrace RSS, we will at least be ready when they come looking. :-)