According to Pew Research, 86% of US adults get their news from digital sources like news websites and social media. RSS feeds are a great way to access and organize content from many of these sites at once, allowing you to curate your own personalized newsletter and stay up to speed.
You may have heard that RSS is a thing of the past. Yet Feedly, one of the dozens of available RSS readers, went from 3 million users in 2013 to 15 million in 2021. This shows that RSS is far from obsolete and remains a useful tool for marketers and salespeople alike.
In this guide, we’ll cover what an RSS feed is, why RSS emails are so useful and how to use two of the most popular RSS readers.
You’ll also learn how RSS feeds can help you stay on top of industry trends and drive sales enablement.
How to subscribe to an RSS feed
There are dozens of RSS readers and how you subscribe to an RSS feed depends on which one you are using. For the sake of brevity, we’ll cover how you can subscribe to an RSS feed using two of the more popular RSS readers: Feedly and NewsBlur.
How to find an RSS feed
You can’t subscribe to an RSS feed without knowing the feed’s URL. A few years ago, most websites had RSS feeds and obvious RSS icons to access them. These days, many websites still have RSS feeds, it can just be a little harder to find them.
Here are a few ways to find a website’s RSS feed:
Find the RSS icon. If a website does have an RSS link, it should be present at either the top or bottom of the website (in the header or footer) or in a widget on the side, above or below the article. The RSS icon looks very similar to the Wi-Fi icon. Some sites also have a page with options to subscribe where you can find the RSS link.
Search Google. You can perform a web search for a website’s RSS feed. All you have to do is search for “[website] RSS feed”, and if the website has one, it’ll probably be the top answer.
Check the website’s source code. Load the website you want the RSS feed for, then right-click the screen somewhere and select “View Page Source”. Use the browser’s search function by pressing Ctrl + F and search for “RSS”. Look for an RSS URL, then copy that into your reader.
Use an RSS reader. Some RSS readers have an integrated search function that will automatically find a website’s RSS feed if you paste the website’s URL into the app’s search bar. Even better, some RSS readers will actually create an RSS feed for you based on specific parameters.
How to use Feedly
Feedly is a free feed reader that helps you aggregate all of the sources that you subscribe to into a single place. You can use Feedly via your web browser, the Feedly Android app or Feedly iPhone app, or get RSS feeds via email. Your feeds and settings will be synchronized across each device, so if you read an article on your phone, it will update your feed on the other devices.
There are three subscription tiers for Feedly. The free version of Feedly lets you subscribe to up to 100 sources. Feedly Pro gives you unlimited sources and feeds, no ads and several functional upgrades. Finally, Feedly Teams lets you share articles between team members, subscribe to Twitter feeds and integrate with Google Alerts.
Here’s how you can subscribe to feeds using Feedly.
Step 1: Sign up for Feedly
Access Feedly through your app or web browser, then sign up for a free account.
Step 2: Create a new feed
Once you’ve gained access to the Feedly app, you can create a new feed. This is a folder where all of the updates for each of your subscriptions will be stored. To do so, select “create new feed” from the left-hand panel and give it a suitable name.
Step 3: Add content
The next step is to add the sources you’d like to follow so you can see updates as they’re published. To add a source, paste the RSS feed URL into the search box.
Feedly also has an integrated search function that you can use to find websites based on topics. Just search for the topic you’re interested in and hit the “follow” button to add it to your feed.
Step 4: Start reading
You should now have all of the sources you want to compile into Feedly.
You can easily organize your feed to show all articles or just the new content released that day. Next to each feed, there’s an unread count so that you know how many new articles have been published since you last accessed the reader. Once you’re finished reading an article, you can tick a checkbox to list it as read and stop Feedly from displaying it in your feed.
Feedly is also more than just a way to read articles. You can also save an article that you want to access later or share it with your friends and colleagues with the click of a button.
How to use NewsBlur
NewsBlur is another free RSS feeder available on desktop, iPhone and Android. The key difference between Feedly and NewsBlur is that the latter has AI sorting automation that can filter and highlight the articles that you are most likely to be interested in.
The free version of NewsBlur grants you 64 subscriptions, which is enough to get started. A yearly subscription is $36/year and includes unlimited feeds, a more streamlined feed, more regular updates and custom RSS modules.
While Feedly embeds each article within the app, NewsBlur takes you to the original website. Different users tend to like it one way or another, so try both to see which you prefer.
Follow the steps below to set up your NewsBlur feed.
Step 1: Sign up for NewsBlur
Download the app on your device, or access NewsBlur via your web browser, then sign up for the service.
Step 2: Add feeds
To add a feed on NewsBlur simply hit the [+] icon at the bottom-left of the window and copy/paste your RSS feed URL into the text field.
Unfortunately, NewsBlur doesn’t have the integrated search function that Feedly has, so you will need to manually find your desired RSS feeds.
Step 3: Start reading
Once you add all of the sources you’d like to monitor, you can play around with the different layouts that NewsBlur offers. For example, you can display your feed in a grid, list or split pane view depending on what you prefer.
Use RSS feeds to stay on top of industry trends
Even though they aren’t as popular as they once were, RSS feeds remain a useful tool for marketers. Staying informed is vital whether you’re a marketer or salesperson. If you know what’s happening in your field, you can apply it to your business and career, meaning more conversions and more sales.
There are several types of sources that you should consider subscribing to. Each of these will give you different benefits, the main one being that you will keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your field.
Industry and news websites and blogs
Populate your reader with authoritative sources of information in your industry. Generally, news sites and blogs that report on emerging trends and events will be the most useful. Categorize these sources as a news section in your reader and never worry about missing important news again.
Think about where you get your daily industry news. A handy trick is to tell your RSS reader which of these sources are “must-reads”. Once you do, the RSS reader will make sure to showcase articles from these websites, meaning you won’t miss any key articles.
Following news websites and blogs is essential to stay up to date with what your competitors are doing. This can be a great way to build a picture of what’s going on in the industry and stay on top of developments.
Keeping track of your competitors helps you to make data-driven decisions as a marketer. You’re able to see what is and isn’t working for them and apply these lessons to your own marketing strategy.
Even better, if you have a content block, following competitor blogs is a great way to get an idea of what they’re posting about and what they aren’t. This can help you to fill in gaps in your own content strategy.
Follow experts and industry influencers – people who live and breathe your field of work. Following the experts means that you’ll be abreast of the latest in thought leadership and any upcoming shifts in your field. This means that you’ll be able to adapt your campaigns to suit the latest trends, increasing their effectiveness and driving up conversions.
It’s possible to use RSS feeds to follow searches for your competitors and specific hashtags on Twitter. Feedly Pro supports Twitter RSS feeds directly. Otherwise, you can use a service such as RSS.app to generate custom RSS feeds based on specific accounts, searches or hashtags.
Unfortunately, many sites that previously supported RSS feeds no longer do, including Quora and LinkedIn. For some of these, it’s still possible to generate an RSS feed in some cases, but you have to use third-party applications, such as RSS.app.
Use RSS feeds for sales enablement
RSS feeds are a great tool to help inform your sales enablement strategy. Sales enablement is all about giving salespeople the information, content and training that will help them make sales. With well-organized RSS feeds, you can access the information that will help you engage with prospects and customers in real time.
Here are a few ways you can use RSS feeds for sales enablement.
Keep track of leads and prospects
Qualifying prospects is essential in sales. If your prospect or their company is consistently in the news, you can use RSS feeds to keep track of them and find opportunities to develop a connection. This is a great way to react to things they’re doing in your industry as well. For instance, you may see that one of your prospects has recently received new funding and might have a budget for your product.
One way to do this is by following your prospect or lead on social media. If you add their username to your RSS feed, you’ll be alerted each time they post. People often ask for recommendations and advice over social media and you may note an opportunity to reach out and offer your services or recommend your product.
Stay on top of customer needs and pain points
Social media is the go-to place if you want to track how your customers are reacting to you or your competitor’s products (or services). An RSS reader will enable you to subscribe to a specific hashtag or search term on Twitter, for example. This will give you a curated Twitter feed of everything people are saying about you (or your competitors) and will help you see where you’re excelling and where you might need improvement.
Keep an eye on competitors
Following competitor blogs and websites is essential to stay up to date with what your competitors are doing. As mentioned above, it’s also possible to subscribe to Twitter searches for your competitors and specific hashtags.
Your success as a salesperson rests on your ability to sell your business or product’s strengths over your competitors. To do this, you need a deep understanding of your competitors. By keeping track of your competitors, you can build an accurate picture of what they are doing right and where they’re falling short. You can then use this information to improve your own sales strategies.
Stay informed about best practices
Using RSS content to stay informed about your field means that you won’t be in the dark about any latest developments. If you follow great sources, you’ll be able to keep on top of the newest tools, thoughts and strategies that can inform your sales methodology for the best results.
This indirectly benefits sales too. A successful sale comes from the seamless cooperation of many people, including the product development and marketing teams. Staying on top of best practices and the latest tools means that each team will be able to work together to enhance their position or target new markets.
It’s vital for both marketers and salespeople to stay informed if they want to maximize their effectiveness in their respective fields. With RSS feeds, you can stay up to date with emerging trends, track relevant activity over social media and monitor competitor behavior to inform your strategy and drive up sales.