RSS Feeds

 Introduction to RSS Feeds

RSS Feeds (Really Simple Syndication) allow you to publish the important information contained in your website for any RSS reader software. These readers can be browsers (IE7, Firefox), websites (Netvibes, Google), and even operating systems like Vista that allow you to display feeds on the desktop.

The feeds allow you to create a strong connection between your site and your visitors.

What are the advantages of RSS feeds?
  • They allow your customers to have recent information at anytime without having to consult your Internet site.
  • They are very easy to implement and don't require a lot of work on your part.
  • They are targeted. You can create a news feed, numerous feeds on product categories that will be interesting to various types of clients, a feed on special offers, etc. In short, you sort the information that you use in your site and offer it to your customers in the form of organized themes. These are what we call feeds.
Why use them as a complement to or instead of a newsletter?
  • A newsletter requires a certain amount of preparation and a bit of precision and structure. The implementation of RSS feeds is much "lighter".
  • Certain customers don't receive newsletters because they get lost in SPAM.
  • The content of a newsletter is always too 'heavy' for some and too 'light' for others.
  • Choosing the date that you send a newsletter is always tricky because you never know when the customers are most available.

You can create as many RSS feeds as you want. These feeds will be proposed to your visitors through a menu on your site that will open the component "RSS Feeds" (see below).
RSS feeds are made up of a name, a description and a set of information. You can select the source of this information from the data managed by the following components:
  • Hot News
  • Events
  • Shopping Cart (Shop)
  • Catalog (Window)
  • Real Estate Ads
In order to limit the information contained in your feed, thus making your visitors want to subscribe (if you bombard them with tons of irrelevant information they will quickly unsubscribe from the feed), you can configure the following criteria:
  • the amount of information to display OR a time period. In both cases, the information is sorted by date, from the most recent to the oldest.
  • the category or categories (up to three) that the information must belong to in order to be incorporated into the feed.
The feeds will be presented to visitors in order of component, then in alphabetical order according to the feed name.

 Organization in the site

To give your visitors access to your RSS feeds list, you must connect the "RSS Feeds" component to one of the menus in your site.

You can do this with a text menu, such as "RSS Feeds" that will open the "RSS Feeds" component.

But ideally, you would use an image-type menu. For this, use one of the "RSS" logos available in your Actinic site image collection (Category - Logos).

Note that depending on the width of your menu, the presence of the RSS logo is not always esthetically pleasing. If this is the case, you can place it in your footer menu or add it in your "shortcut and editorial blocks" using the following code:
<A href="PBRSSFeeds.asp"><IMG border=0 src="Files/0/RSSLogo.gif"></A>


Thanks to these RSS feeds, you are going to be able to liven up not only your site (which you could do with just several animations), but you are going to animate the relationship between you and your visitors, which is infinitely more important.

By subscribing to a feed, your visitors will be informed when the information in your RSS feed changes. This will allow you to notify your customers instead of requiring them to periodically consult your site. In this way, you form a strong connection with your customers.

If you frequently add new products to your catalog/shop, you can publish them using an RSS feed. You have to configure your feed so that it retrieves, for example, the 3 latest products. If you have several categories, you can also, if you wish, add a feed for each category that you consider to be important. This way, you will have a site that allows your users to receive information about your new products in various categories. You will also be able to respond to customer requests and to add feeds to the request.

A classic example is a "Clear Out" category. You classify the products that you periodically liquidate and you create a "Clear Out" feed for the "Shopping Cart Catalog" component "showing the 3 products most recently added to the 'clear out' category". Your subscribers will be notified practically in real time about these new opportunities.

 How to read RSS feeds

RSS fees can be visualized using different types of software/readers:
  • Website content aggregators: MyGoogle, WindowsLive, NetVibes, Newsgator, BlogLines, etc... Certain content aggregators allow you to build a configurable home page by retrieving RSS feeds from different sources. This also allows you to see the content of your own feeds.
  • Browsers: Internet Explorer 7.0, FireFox 2.0, etc.
  • Programs installed on your machine: AlertInfo, RSSOwl, SharpReader, RSS Reader, FeedReader, etc.
 A bit about technical terms (FYI)

RSS is a standard allowing you to publish Web content in XML format. This format is very similar to a simple text file but integrates tags, like HTML (the language of your website). The XML tags allow you to impart a strong importance to the content. In particular, this allows you to give a name and a description to your RSS feeds.

Note that you will sometimes find RSS literature mentioning the use of the XML files of RSS feeds. Your Actinic site is dynamic. Everything comes in from your database in real time via our software programs. No actual physical files exist. Indeed, even if this file technique makes sense for publishing your news, it is not dynamic enough to delete products from a feed "on the fly" that have reached a null stock level and that you no longer wish to sell, for example.

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