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June 29, 2003
RSS to kill e-newsletters?
More on RSS vs email from another post of mine to I-Advertising:

> If that's correct, then it doesn't seem much different than opening
> your email app and seeing a list of subject lines

I have NewsGator installed. In Outlook, the feeds I subscribe to appear just like any other e-newsletter subscription. There's a folder and a list of entries.

For the user, there's more control, e.g...

* unsubscribing is done at the PC - you just tell your software not to check for new content. 100% unsubscribe garantee!
* there's no risk that your email address is passed on - you don't give one out.
* you can set the intervals at which the software checks for new content
* no email accounts are getting filled up while you're on your vacation
* etc.

In terms of marketing/advertising (which is what we're here for), the huge advantage is *deliverability*. Once someone subscribes to your feed, they will get your content. (Notwithstanding technical problems, I assume)

As such, it'a a potential replacement for anything email a prospect or customer might subscribe to - your newsletter or announcement list, for example.

But I suspect that opens a whole host of issues, for example:

1. The user controls delivery frequency, not the marketer.
2. RSS feeds have been largely ad free til now.
3. Will prospects and customers have RSS functionality?

I don't see how it solves the spam issue - RSS can't replace your email account, because you still need to use email to communicate with individuals. Perhaps since you'd be giving out your email address less often, you'd get on fewer spam lists?

I'd stress again that I am no expert, but what I've seen so far suggests to me that a conversion from e-newsletters to RSS feeds is a distinct possibility, especially if the big email software companies build RSS capability into their products.

Permalink | June 29, 2003 | 0 comment(s)
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June 27, 2003
Belgium chocolates but no email
I recently ordered half a kilo of chocolates from this Antwerp-based manufacturer for my wife, who's running the household while I finish up a long-term writing project. The site reflects how far behind we are in Europe in terms of usability.

After I placed the order, I went to Outlook and confidently waited for an email confirmation that never came. I can't remember the last time I ordered anything online and didn't get (instantaneous) email confirmation. In fact, my immediate assumption was the order hadn't gone through. Since chocolates aren't crucial to my life (beer and soccer maybe, but not chocolates) I didn't bother to follow up and just made a mental note to check my cc bill.

Memo to merchants: send order confirmation emails.

Anyway, they arrived today and the chocolates are fantastic. So is this positive word of mouth or negative?

Permalink | June 27, 2003 | 0 comment(s)
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Here's a copy of a note I just sent to I-Advertising about RSS feeds. As email marketing struggles with deliverability issues, I can see marketers investigating other distribution channels like RSS. It has all the pros of email (content pushed to the recipient's desktop) without the cons (spam, blacklists, filters etc.). It's going to be interesting to see how marketers use this technology, if at all...

RSS is a code format. Websites can code content using this format and make the file (feed) available for download.

If a user has, for example, RSS-enabled software (like an RSS newsreader) they can "subscribe" to these RSS feeds. Which means when they're online, the software will connect with the originator of the feed, and check to see if any new content has been added. If it has, then the new content is downloaded and displayed by the reader.

From the content provider's perspective, the deliverability issues associated with email (spam filters, blacklists etc.) disappear.

Many sites make such RSS feeds available, including the likes of CNET, Microsoft and numerous weblogs.

There are various uses for these feeds, particularly for content syndication, but obviously one of them is for feeding people the kind of stuff you might otherwise send out in an email newsletter.

Its mainstream success presumably depends on end users having the appropriate software installed. But there is already software available which integrates with your email client, and "rumors" of some of the larger email services and software manufacturers building RSS capabilities into their products.

I'm not terribly familiar with RSS but there are plenty of devotees around. Perhaps one can correct / expand the above.

More info:

Excellent overview with links
A popular RSS news aggregator that runs in MS Outlook

June 26, 2003
When the page loads, look at the top left logo. Then watch a little man jump out, walk across the page, hopping from menu item to menu item before standing on top of the registration form urging you to sign-up. Great idea for boosting subscriptions to your mailing list?

Permalink | June 26, 2003 | 0 comment(s)
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June 25, 2003
I have a lot of issues with this article on about email marketing. I respect what the author is trying to say about permission and developing relationships with your customers via email. But there's some misinformation in there, such as misinterpretation of the Silverpop report on HTML emails and cost suggestions that are out of line with reality. Plus there are enough naysayers around without adding more unproven speculation to the "email marketing is dead" argument. The idea that email no longer works for customer prospecting simply isn't true, as numerous marketers will tell you. I suspect the article will cause quite a stir (which may have been the intention ;-)

Permalink | June 25, 2003 | 0 comment(s)
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