Extending Marketing Automation with RSS



Every day, millions of people in the world receive hundreds of marketing emails that, most of the time, are identified as spam in their mailboxes.  Direct email campaigns (or email blasts) are losing effectiveness each day.  CRM products like MS-CRM and third-party ‘campaigners’ have been providing significant improvements to their software so that the users can actually opt-in or out from a distribution list and receive only emails that they are interested in. 


 


This pattern is quite similar to the way RSS operates; you sign up for a feed and receive only the news about the topics you care about.  The growth of RSS feeds in the world as well as the many readers available nowadays makes RSS a very interesting prospect to deliver advertisement over the net.  However, unlike email, you cannot just simply send your feed to a specific customer, there is not such thing (yet) as an RSS address you can target. Therefore, how can the RSS channel be exploited by MS-CRM for marketing automation purposes?  


 


Here are some of my thoughts:


 



  • MS-CRM could let CRM customers create an email or a Web page link that allows users subscribe to a personalized RSS feed. If the user subscribes, the feed is created in MS-CRM and updated regularly with marketing automation (MA) content. It would be like creating RSS feeds (not just the content) on the fly.

 



  • Because is quite probable that the MS-CRM customer already has clients subscribed to RSS feeds, MS-CRM could target those clients using the existing feeds. This alternative seems quite challenging because there are dozens of ways in which RSS feeds can be generated; therefore the feeds would need to be standardized (or connected), somehow, to make them work in sync with MSCRM.

 



  • The user creates a campaign in MS-CRM and targets customers through RSS; MS-CRM contacts a ‘centralized’ database of RSS feeds and queries for the users being targeted by the campaign; if the user has relevant RSS feeds registered, MS-CRM could send MA information to the ‘centralized’ database which in turn will populate the feeds.  I really like this alternative because this centralized entity can also ‘regulate’ the use of the feeds avoiding potential spam issues. Efforts have already been performed by some players to build this centralized entity of feeds, for example www.feedburner.com. Having those ‘centralized’ entities available makes the idea of a global RSS address not so distant.  

These solutions are indeed imperfect and impose privacy, social and commercial issues that must be dealt with, but I find them to be a good starting point to brainstorm about the MA-RSS topic.  


 


I would really like to hear opinions from our readers about this topic so please feel free to share your thoughts.


 


By the way, if you are interested in other usages of RSS within MS-CRM don’t miss to check the “MS-CRM 3.0 RSS connector”, see: http://blogs.msdn.com/mikemill/archive/2006/03/24/560334.aspx


 


Humberto Lezama Guadarrama

Comments (4)

  1. Moonwatcher says:

    I never opt-in for marketing emails. Never. But I’d be happy to subscribe to marketing RSS feeds. So why aren’t they available?

  2. Josh Hoover says:

    Hi Humberto,

    I don’t have experience with Microsoft CRM but think I understand what you’re looking for in terms of MS CRM and RSS feed integration. The startup I’m co-founding (Quickfinch), is working on making RSS a real marketing platform since it’s already a superior delivery mechanism over email. It sounds like there might be some great opportunities to integrate Quickfinch with Microsoft CRM once we get to the point of releasing our product.

    Josh Hoover

    josh at quickfinch dot com

    <a href="http://quickfinch.com/">http://quickfinch.com/</a&gt;

  3. Humberto Lezama Guadarrama says:

    I agree with Moonwatcher’s comment. Many people, including me, will be more than happy to subscribe to marketing RSS feeds provided that they serve information (e.g. advertisements) of topics and or companies I care about.

    I believe that marketing feeds do exist now. Each company develops their own feeds and sends the user marketing headlines along with them.  Companies are even using RSS as a generic communication medium to publish price lists, new products announcements and all sorts of information. The problem is that the process is still somehow ‘manual’. Automating the process of targeting multiple customers and RSS feeds (not only the feeds generated by the company itself) is the step that many companies are taking now.

    However, from my perspective, the key for the success of RSS marketing will be to preserve the customer’s right to receive only relevant information (which is the wonder of RSS feeds right now, you subscribe to the feeds you care about). If feeds start getting flooded with irrelevant marketing messages we will soon need RSS spam filters. If we can do both, automate the RSS marketing process and preserve the customer’s right to receive only relevant information, then RSS will very likely become one of the top tools for marketing people in the future.

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