I am continually amazed at how many leading sites fail to recognise the importance of RSS as a vital method of communicating with their customers. One site that continues to amaze me is the New Zealand e-Bay clone, Trade Me. Why don’t they have RSS feeds setup to notify users of new trades being put up? If you are looking to buy something in particular, or have an interest in a particular area, receiving an RSS feed directly to your computer of new products being sold would be so much easier than trawling through the site on a regular basis and potentially missing something.
In many ways RSS feeds are the most important technology of the Web 2.0 era. They allow users to consumer a huge amount of information, quicker and at their own speed. They are more effective than email as they can be often filtered and setup to exactly match the consumers interests. I have unsubscibed to so many newsletters as they in general only have one article I am interested in and the rest amounts to rubbish. With RSS feeds I can receive information from a great many sources and quickly scan through for the stuff that is relevant to me.
Most websites would have RSS feeds setup of relevant information that is updated regularly. The challenge is in identifying what is relevant to your users, what they are likely to want to receive regularly from you and building your feeds around this information. Of course, in forums, news sites and blogs this is easy. Those interested in your blog will receive a feed of new postings and in some cases on very highly active sites – even comments.
It is of course harder to identify what your users might be interested in on travel sites where the content is not changing greatly from week to week, perhaps hot deals and specials will work. Nonetheless, for the rest of the sites out there such as Trade Me (and one of my favourite Sports Geek sites – Sportzhub), get onto RSS feeds – you are only frustrating your users!