Send Automated Emails using RSS Feeds

  • Updated

RSS (Rich Site Summary, but often better known as Really Simple Syndication) provides a way for you to easily syndicate your content to your audience. Typically, a user subscribes to your RSS feed to be notified of new updates. With the RSS to Email feature, you can embed your RSS feed directly within a message.

Your RSS feed isn't just for blog posts - you can use an RSS feed for eCommerce items that back in stock, social media updates, Podcasts, or anything else that has an RSS feed.

RSS to Email Dashboard

The RSS to Email Dashboard has a Folders listing similar to other Act-On content listings, and three tabs that display RSS email campaigns sorted by their status.


After designing your RSS to Email message, it will appear under the Draft tab. This is where you can schedule the message to send (Send Now, Day of Week, or Monthly).


The Active tab shows all active RSS to Email messages. These are actively sending on a schedule, and you can see the next scheduled time on this tab. Messages may not be edited while they are active.


The Completed tab shows all completed RSS to Email messages. These messages may be edited, rescheduled, and copied.

Creating an RSS to Email Campaign

RSS to Email messages can only be created from the RSS to Email dashboard, which includes a modified version of the Message Composer.

Start a new RSS to Email Message

  1. Click Outbound > RSS to Email
  2. Click New and design your message as you normally would.

Configure the RSS Block

Drag the RSS block into a new or existing section and the RSS block settings will open.

Configure the RSS Block with the following options:

  • RSS Feed URL - Locate your RSS Feed URL from your website (you may need to work with a web developer to get it)
  • Format:
    • Full Content - Will pull all content into the message body.
    • Summary Content - This will pull the first few lines of content into your message.
    • Title Only - Will only include the hyperlinked title of your content.
  • Additional display Options:
    • Published Date - Displays the pubDate element
    • Author - Displays the author  element
    • Read More - Displays a link to the item using the link element
    • Alignment - left margin, center, or right margin
    • RSS Items - The maximum number of RSS feed items to display in the email, up to 10. We will only display new items since the last check, validated by the item link.

Message Preview

From the Review tab you can preview your message with the included RSS Feed. This preview is meant for reviewing the formatting of items from your RSS feed.

This is not a true content preview. The feed is checked at the time the message is sent and the feed may change.

Once you are satisfied with your design, Save the message and close the window.

Schedule your RSS to Email Campaign

  1. In the Drafts tab, hover over your message and click the down-arrow > Schedule
  2. Choose either Send Now, Day of Week, or Monthly
  3. If you choose Day Of Week or Monthly, fill in the schedule you would like your message to follow
  4. Click Schedule
RSS to Email only pulls from your most recent content as validated by the item link, so if you send a message with 5 RSS items and then try to send another RSS to Email messages without adding new content to your website or blog, you will have no RSS items to include in the message.

View Message Reports

After you have successfully sent your RSS to Email message, you will be able to view how your message performed in a Sent Message Report.

  1. Navigate to Outbound > RSS to Email
  2. Click the Completed tab
  3. Hover over the message you would like to view the report for and click the down-arrow > Report

By default, you will see the Aggregate report. This is compiled data for the RSS to Email campaign overall.

You can also use the drop-down menu to choose a particular date. Here you can review the performance of the particular message as well as see the RSS feed contents for that date.

FAQs & Troubleshooting

What kind of feeds will work with the RSS to Email feature?

RSS 1.0, 2.0, and Atom. Act-On will accept any feed that validates here:

What Elements are displayed for each RSS Item?

Act-On's RSS to Email can display the following XML elements for each Item:

Atom RSS 2.0 RSS 1.0
author author author
content content NA
summary description description
title  title title
updated pubDate NA
link* link* link*

* As a hyperlink for the title and "Read More" (if selected)

RSS Feed Item elements that will not be displayed (not an inclusive list):

Atom RSS 2.0
category category
contributor comments
icon enclosure
id guid
generator source

How can I edit my RSS to Email campaign?

Campaigns are locked for editing while they are active. The campaign must be stopped prior to editing and then they may be rescheduled.

  1. Go to Outbound > RSS to Email > Active and mark the campaign as Complete using the drop-down menu. 
  2. Go to the Completed tab, find the campaign message, and from the drop-down menu choose Edit.
  3. Make your changes, Save and close.
  4. Go back to the same drop-down menu and choose Reschedule.

How do I decide how many RSS items to include and/or how often to send the message?

Consider the cadence at which your feed is typically updated, the type of content, and the audience. Email deliverability is a consideration in addition to the frequency the RSS feed typically updates. Remember, the message will not be sent if there are no new feed items since the last message.

Example #1 - Feed reliably updates multiple times per week, engaged audience

  • Schedule: Weekly
  • Max number of Items: 10

Example #2 - Feed updates a few times per month or less (Fewer emails out)

  • Schedule: Monthly
  • Max number of Items: 5

Example #3 - Feed updates a few times per month or less, engaged audience (More emails out)

  • Schedule: Weekly
  • Max number of Items: 3

What happens if I have more updates than will display in my email?

The outbound message will only include up to the maximum number of new RSS feed items you’ve specified, from the top down. If there are 6 new items and your message only displays 5, then the last item will be skipped. It will not send out in a future message, therefore it is very important to set your RSS to Email Campaign to send the right number of feed items at the right frequency.

I accidentally missed a blog post and now it won’t send out. What can I do?

If an RSS feed states there are no unsent items when there is a specific item you need to trigger to send, there are two ways to approach this depending on what you have control over.

Solution #1: Change the RSS Item Link and move it to the top of the RSS feed.
We review RSS feeds from top down and log the items by their link/URL. Updating the link and moving it to the top of the feed will bypass our logs and be considered a new post.

If your blog is WordPress, for example, changing the publication date of a post (eg to today) will move it to the top of the feed. This may also change the URL if it is in date format (eg If your URL is not in date format, simply edit the post URL manually.

Check the feed to confirm the desired post is at the top of the feed and the link has changed, then re-send the email in Act-On.

Solution #2: Stop the RSS Campaign and start a new one.
This is an option if you do not have control over updating the feed. Starting a new campaign will reset Act-On’s RSS Campaign log and trigger the most recent posts to send out. Posts that have previously been sent may re-send.

Can I set up RSS to Email to send out whenever my feed is updated?

No, this is not a feature Act-On currently supports.

How can I send an RSS Email manually / on demand?

You are able to use Send Now to send your RSS Email now, then re-send the same RSS email manually by going to Outbound > RSS to Email > Completed, and clicking “Reschedule” from the drop-down menu for the email you are sending. The message will be sent again with new feed items.

Multiple items were supposed to appear in the feed but only one or some did?

If you had several items in your feed but only one showed up, there are a couple of instances that prevent some items from appearing:

  1. Duplicate URLs cannot be used. In the case you recycle a URL by updating the content, this item will not show in the feed, as we currently do not post a feed with a previously used URL to prevent potentially posting duplicate content.
  2. Items must be in chronological order. RSS items are processed in the order received, and this is generally based on published date, from newest to oldest. If an older item is placed in the middle of several new items, anything past this older one will be considered old as well.

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