Do People Really Use Feeds?

August 08, 2008

Posted in Marketing and Technology.

I’ve long wondered just what the penetration of feeds (RSS or Atom) might be among different audiences. Especially among non-profits and in higher education. Do college students understand and use feeds? How about staff and faculty? Alumni? Non-profit workers? Donors?

I’d love to do some research on this. If anyone has data, feel free to share it!

In the meantime, I can look through some of my clients’ stats and gather some data. One site in particular is a great example of the changing landscape in web content consumption.

Here are their web traffic stats, via Google Analytics:

Web traffic pattern

And here are their feed subscriber stats, via Feedburner:

Feed stats

Whoa! Huge difference. The web traffic is pretty even. They publish daily during the week, so the drops in traffic correspond to the weekends (when there’s no new content). But the feed subscribers are a huge part.

Interesting note: the main audience for that site is University alumni, typically older faculty. So it’s not surprising that over 90% of these subscribers are actually using the email feature within Feedburner. They don’t use a feed reader at all.

While they don’t necessarily understand the concept of feeds, they certainly want the main feature: to consume content the way they want.

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