Should Community Building Start with RSS or Email?

So should you offer an RSS Service to your readers? Collect Email? Collect Phone? Or spend your time pushing “likes”, “pins” and “follows”? Well. . .

Our job is to make our audiences smarter, better, happier. We create and distribute information and entertainment. But our ability to provide value to our readers is hampered by our ability to reach them.

Thus one of our primary goals is to collect contact information of those interested in our solutions, so that we can provide this value over and over and over.


We can only reach them when they “like” us, “follow” us, “subscribe” to us and/or “register” with us. If we choose to not offer one of those options we chance losing a reader who enjoys that particular method of communication at that moment. Thus offering all services means our audience gets to engage with us how they want to.

But our greatest asset is email (and more specifically the email autoresponder). That is because with email we have the ability to send exactly what we want, when we want and targeted to whom we want.

But more importantly email is an asynchronous media. That means you don’t have to be there when it is sent. The problem with Radio, TV, Pinterest, Twitter and somewhat Facebook, if you’re not there you’re not going to see it.

Good email and RSS services allow you to create topic-specific lists so that your reader only gets the information that is of interest to them. When your blog covers multiple topics (recipes, deals, homeschool printables and gluten-free diet tips), your gluten-free reader will not open your messages very often if they are often riddled with topics other than gluten-free diet tips. That lack of relevance translates into lower open rates and fewer dollars earned.

The benefit of an email autoresponder is it gives you leverage. An autoresponder is a “pre-written” set of messages that go to your audience with message #1 starting whenever someone signs up. That frees you up to run your business while you’re autoresponder is educating and marketing to your audience.

The part of an autoresponder that is far superior to email and RSS is just that. With everyone getting email #1 when they sign up, you get to hold their hand as you take them on their journey with you.

(But don’t let that fool you, RSS still has its place).

With RSS and email blasts, when someone signs up today they get whatever you happen to be communicating about tomorrow. And often that is not the “101 How-to” information then need to get.

Some clients like Feedblitz, AWeber and 1shoppingCart offer all three services in one. What you choose is purely up to you.

In the end the goal remains the same. Gain the ability to reach out to your audience and draw them back to your site. If you have any chance of creating a “community” of your readers, you can not simply “hope” your content will bring them back. Send them a message and ask them to come back.

Dan R Morris is the author of LettersFromDan, a marketing strategy program dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Mara

    Great point, Dan! I like that idea, too!

    I think I really need to learn how to re-think what my email newsletter is. Right now, I just push my posts, with the occasional free download to incentivize subscriptions. Can’t wait to learn more from you at Savvy.

  2. Dan R. Morris

    It’s great to know where your community comes together. I think that’s an aside to the email question.

    MySpace. Sears. Kmart. AOL. Pontiac. . .

    But even more important than knowing the end of Facebook will someday come is knowing that Facebook controls who you reach. Right now Facebook pages are set to reach 15% of your audience unless you pay.

    But you could overcome that. Whether by RSS or Email, being able to contact your audience means you can bring them back to your Facebook page without Facebook’s help. You can say “Hey, check out what Marta said about this. . . ” and send them directly to Facebook.

    For me the question isn’t about “where is your community?”. . . the question is how do you keep bringing them back to the conversation.

  3. Mara

    I know that everyone says “email, email, email”, but here’s why I put my email list second, despite the fact that I know I’m in control of it vs. Facebook.

    With email, it’s a one-way conversation. Sure, sometimes readers write back with follow-up questions, but I’m not *building community* with my email list. I’m building a blogger-to-reader relationship. Don’t get me wrong – that is critical for the business model side of things.

    But I continue to believe that Facebook is where it’s at in terms of “community” building. And ultimately I think the community around my blog has made it what it is. (I recognize that that may not be true for all bloggers and all blogs).

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