RSS Versus Email

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This past Wednesday in MediaPost, Tobi Elkin brought forth some interesting arguments in his article, Just An Online Minute… RSS Versus E-mail.
The main question Elkin asks is, “will RSS eat e-mail marketing’s lunch?”
Counter to what Elkin predicts, I don’t think it’s that provocative of a discussion topic. When RSS sheds its current technology phobia skin and is able to be presented in a global “click to subscribe” simplicity, it will eat email’s lunch (breakfast and supper too).
Take a look at the teenager segment. They hate email. It’s full of spam. They place email in the same regard as infomercials and call centers who phone them at home during dinner to sell insurance for department store credit cards.
Email to them is only a few steps away from someone trying to sell pencils… door to door.
As consumers take more control – and they’re doing so at a rapid click – the current model of RSS will have to shift and focus on delivering truly targeted messages to the right person at the right time. I know, this has been the dream of advertisers since…. well, since we started this whole advertising game, but RSS actually does deliver on this.
All RSS is consumer-initiated and subscription-generated. By leveraging those choices and implementing newer algorithms, we’ll understand how to feed those messages through the pipe.
“The fact that RSS feeds are immune to spam filters that often plague e-mail newsletters, doesn’t make them a better distribution medium for marketing communications. RSS feeds can be cold and don’t build relationships with customers as newsletters do,” states the RSS Versus Email article.
There’s the rub. You can’t compare a semi-mature communications channel (e-newsletters) to an emerging one (RSS). Once we understand “how” to message through RSS (and trust me, subscribing to feeds is very beta) it will become the primary marketing channel.
Blend the concepts of Google AdWords with more robust content and the power of RSS technology and your marketing minds will wonder at the marvels. Digital advertising is proven most effective when the message is more content than advertising.
“RSS feeds can be cold and don’t build relationships with customers as newsletters do,” continues the article.
Personally, I can’t think of anything warmer than great content that is targeted to me because I selected it along with additional related content that the RSS channel acknowledges as relevant. Take the next logical step: RSS continually learns what I like and don’t like (by what I’m reading or clicking) and how to send it to me (based on what days and times I am reading).
Elkin is right, RSS won’t eat email’s lunch… it will become the entire dining experience.