Marketers still don’t get RSS


A survey of email marketers concludes that they still don’t understand the potential of RSS as a marketing tool.

Reported at WebProNews, a WordBiz report claims that although 74% of email marketers are ‘familiar’ with the term ‘RSS’, only about 37% had downloaded an RSS feed reader (I use FeedDemon) or subscribed to a web-based reader, and a mere 23% read blogs via an RSS subscription.

From the WebProNews article:

“”Despite the recent attention to RSS in the mainstream press, we’re still at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding and adoption of RSS as a business communications channel,” said Debbie Weil, Publisher of WordBiz Report. “With RSS feeds, you can reach a willing and waiting audience — without worrying about spam filters or inbox clutter. With the simplicity of My Yahoo!’s RSS feeds, I predict that 2005 will be the year of RSS adoption.” More…

There are plenty more reasons why online marketers need to get onto the RSS train, but on the train they will get.

Personally, I have unsubscribed to every email newsletter, practically stopped entirely the practice of visiting sites on a regular basis through bookmarking/memory/habit, and consume near to 100% of my online content via RSS.  Sites I do happen to ‘visit’ now are due to a search term result, a click-throughs from RSS articles, or shopping.

So my ‘browsing’ days are over. The question is when, not if, RSS reading will become the online content consumption behaviour of the masses.  I think 2005 is too soon for the consumer: RSS is still at early adopter phase, but by 2006 the consumer trend may well become significant enough to the see the numbers of email marketers take RSS seriously.


Comments (15)

  1. Adam Young says:

    I’m sure that as soon as the marketers become RSS-savvy, we’ll start seeing more sites forcing you to register to receive "targeted" RSS content, and the messages will come with inline advertising (e.g. you subscribe to a news site, and get dozens of messages from the site’s sponsors along with your news headlines). Not good.

  2. Alex Barnett says:

    Adam, not good, but then you have a choice.

    If you think the ads are too much, then delete the feed. If you don’t want to register, don’t. The ‘market’ will decide what’s right, right…?

    Alex.

  3. Uwe Keim says:

    Hm, I doubt that "the market will decide what’s right". I more would expect everyone to ad ads to RSS, then.

    If your thoughts would be correct, no one every would need popup-blockers or spam filters. Or do you know someone who WANTS these things? 🙂

  4. Claude says:

    Hm, Uwe, when we all *do* have popup blockers and spam filters, there will be no more reason to create popups and send spam mail. That’s what he meant by "the market …".

  5. Anonymous Coward says:

    > With RSS feeds, you can reach a

    > willing and waiting audience —

    > without worrying about spam filters

    > or inbox clutter.

    Until the signal to noise ratio in RSS content starts approaching that of e-mail…

    The willing and waiting audience will unsubscribe from the feed as soon as the content turns into targeted advertising.

  6. RSS feeds are destined to become spam with another name if some filter/abstraction capability is not added to the mix. If every site is an RSS feed into your aggregator then the "convenience" of aggregation is the same as the convenience of drinking from a fire hose. If you subscribed to my Blog you would get everything I write – movie reviews, stories about my kids, my views on enterprise software, RSS, Podcasting, blah, blah, blah. You might only care about my views on movies but will have to sort through the full feed to find what you are interested in. RSS subscription needs another layer of abstraction to be useful or we will find ourselves talking about the same thing a few years from now.

  7. Alex Barnett says:

    Thanks for your comments Peter.

    to quote you:

    >>> "If you subscribed to my Blog you would get everything I write – movie reviews, stories about my kids, my views on enterprise software, RSS, Podcasting, blah, blah, blah. You might only care about my views on movies but will have to sort through the full feed to find what you are interested in." <<<<

    The simplest way of resolving this by having seperate RSS feeds/channels categorised by content topics.

    2 examples of this…

    Lockergnome.com (http://channels.lockergnome.com) and ZDNet (http://www.zdnet.com/html/z/xml.html) each have over 40 seperate feeds according to subject/topics.

    This approach solves the clutter/targetting issue you mention above.

    Apologies if I’ve missed the point.

    Alex.

  8. No you are on point but the channel metaphor is ultra limiting. Seperating feeds in to channels is the logical first step but in reality the split feeds still have the same problem. ZDNet went from 1 feed to eventually 40 but within any one of the 40 there still might be a subset of the information I truly want and maybe it lives within 2 different channels. Using the movie analogy, I may be interested in movies but only action movies but then only action movies with Bruce Willis. Think of how TiVo approaches the problem of helping people find TV shows they want to watch. I can watch a certain channel or only certain shows on whatever channel they happen to be on as well as certain actors in certain shows on whatever channel they happen to be on. The filtering has near infinite permutations that allow me to define exactly the type of TV I want to record and watch. RSS filtering state of the art is limited to categories only (as far as I can tell anyway).

  9. Alex Barnett says:

    Peter, I see where you are coming from here.

    We are having some success with MSDN Connection in UK.

    Have a play, let me know if this is the kind of thing you mean.

    See:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/alexbarn/archive/2004/09/19/231385.aspx

    The site is at:

    http://www.microsoft.com/uk/msdn/preferences.aspx

  10. Alex – This approach is infinitely better than gross channels. RSS feed filtering has to evolve this way else we will be sipping from a fire hose. Now if we could get some hueristic profiling as well as keywords addd to a basic checkbox form then we are on to something. Thanks for pointing me to this.