Should you publish full text RSS feeds or only summary?

The site has been around for over two years now but I have always abstained from publishing full content RSS feeds for two selfish reasons (or you can call them fears) outlined below:

1. Since RSS Subscribers get to read the full blog content inside their newsreaders, they would never visit the actual blog site - the fear was that lesser pageviews would impact the advertising revenue.

2. An ever bigger threat was from blog plagiarists and MFA Sites who would steal the blog content and reuse it on their own sites. It takes just too much effort and time to deal with content thieves.

But as an experiment, last month I switched from partial feeds to full text feeds and the results have been beyond expectation both in terms of growth of RSS subscribers as well as revenue from blog feeds [see graphs].

Growth in RSS Subscribers - Digital Inspiration added more than a 1000 new subscribers in less than a month - thanks to full text feeds.

rss subscriber growth

Revenue from Ads inside Feeds - Not saying the exact numbers here but the revenue generated from full feeds in the last month was more than the combined revenue of previous months. This is clearly a result of migrating to full content feeds - more ad impressions were generated translating to increase in revenue.

feed advertising revenue
Not just the commercial aspect, regular readers are now more keep to participate in the blog discussions and the level of engagement has increased as well.

Now that I am a serious proponent of Full content feeds, let's look at couple of more reasons that in favor of full feeds than short summary or teaser feeds:

» Most subscribers are annoyed when they have to click an extra link to read the full story. Unless you're an A-list blogger like Scoble or Om Malik, a majority of readers won't take the pain of clicking that "Read full story.." link.

» We all face those rare moments when our blog site is unavailable due to a server crash or network outage. Subscribers can still read your articles offline or inside their feed readers.

» Regular readers, who visit your blog via RSS feeds, are very likely to stay away from the advertisements because of the "Adsense Blanket" effect. They are aware of your site layout and know well what portions to avoid.

» If you break a story or write something interesting and engaging, RSS subscribers would still come to your blog pages to read comments left by other readers or write one themselves. Partial feeds may not excite them enough.

» Not everyone lives in a 24x7 connected world. They like to connect to the internet, download interesting stuff and read them offline without shooting the ISP bill. Full feeds are an ideal choice here.

Not convinced yet ? If you are still not willing to make the switch to full feeds, atleast write a feed with a good summary text that gives a complete idea to reader about the underlying blog post. Never use the options like "Show first 200 characters" - they can create meaningless sentences.

Related: Use RSS Feed Plagairism to your advantage