I think marketers are beginning to rub their sleepy eyes and are waking up to the potentials of adding RSS to their marketing mix. But what exactly should they be looking for?
This eWeek articlesays LiveMessage based in Redwood City is releasing software that lets users send RSS “messages”. I put it in quotes because describing it that way is not exactly the right terminology for RSS, but the correct terminology for marketing.
From a consumer point of view, I would prefer RSS to email because I can definitely turn off the pipeline when *I* want to. If I see that they’ve allowed another company to use that feed to market to me, well I can just unsubscribe. And I know that they won’t keep on sending me spam emails. The flow of information is finally in my control, and I can cut down on the amount of spam in my inbox.
One thing that will help propel the wide adaptation of RSS by marketers is if more people are using RSS aggregators. I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat myself. Someone needs to integrate an RSS reader, Outlook and IE. Newsmonster supposedly does something like this. But it uses Mozilla instead of IE, and my machine (I’m on XP) doesn’t seem to like it. And I haven’t tried NewsGator yet. But I can tell you my web browsing has already changed because of RSS. Have there been any studies on how people’s web browsing has changed since the wide acceptance of RSS readers? Maybe ol’ Neilly could get on it, but he’s still doing his Alertbox columnonly as an email and not using RSS. (Has he ever changed his website?)
There are some decent RSS marketing feeds out there. Amazon obviously knows good tech when they see it. They have Amazon Syndicated Contentfor a variety of categories. Also, I would have thought eBay would have implemented an RSS search functionality, but why bother when someone else has done it for free. You can get your own customized eBay Search RSS via freebiddingtools.com .
Of course there are some nay-sayers against RSS marketing. Chris Pirillo lists the arguments against RSS marketinghe’s gotten. Obviously he doesn’t agree if you read his last sentence. And eNewsletter Journal is conservative about adding RSS to your marketing mix, because they say the metrics won’t be as complete. However there is a way to do it well and have just as good metrics. Just tweak your content management system. You can assign users an unique RSS ID to each feed. For example, I’m an online travel company, and I know that Ashley Richards is looking for cheap flights From SFO to JFK and YVR. She can create a customized page, á la my.yahoo.com, that has its own RSS feed. If the price for anything on that page changes, the RSS feed is updated. She sees in her aggregator a synopsis, and she then comes to the site. We have her in our database with identifying information such as her: IP address, home airport, frequency of feed checking, click-throughs to the site, and if we ask her to fill out a form to get the feed we can find out other demographic information.
If you need more convincing that you should add RSS to your marketing mix, read Alex Barnnet’s Email v RSS, Email Marketer v Customer Matrix. You’ll see when and where you should use it.
One place that is indisputably a good place to have an RSS feed is on anything that could be considered PR for your company. Business Weekreports Sun’s president and COO Jonathan Schwartz’ blog is proof positive that you can successfully use blogging for PR. In the article, they say Sun’s competitors are checking out what he has to say. What could be better than having someone in your company seen as an authority on a topic and share their knowledge with your clients, competitors, and interested parties. Also if you’re a company like say, Google, who has a cult-like following, you can benefit from a Google blogabout what’s going on inside your hallowed halls. It can give your followers (and investors) the feeling that they’re a part of your company.
Even though there has been a bit written on the subject, more serious attention needs to be given to using RSS for marketing. I think we’re seeing the baby stages of what marketers can do with RSS, and how consumer can finally feel in control again over the messages they recieve.