Email marketing vs RSS marketing


After a good week or so completely offline I’m now back to find more than 800 emails in my inbox, and that’s after the junk filter has done its best. I also have more than 1,500 unread entries in my RSS reader.

And which one am I looking forward to tackling first of all? Easy. Even though I’ve got more entries in my RSS reader I’ll be looking there first.

And why? Because I’ve actively subscribed to every feed that I receive. Granted I probably won’t get through all 1,500 odd posts, but I can say with confidence they’ll all be of some interest to me because I asked for them.
In contrast I’m dreading having to open my email inbox. I’m sure buried in there will be some emails that are actually intended for me, but I can be equally sure that there will be a fair number of actual spam emails and marketing emails that may as well be spam.

As a marketer I tend to opt-in for email marketing from most companies I deal with. I’m interested in seeing what a wide range of companies are doing with their marketing, but it does place quite a load on my email inbox.

Seeing a week’s worth of emails in my inbox and posts in my RSS reader has shown me two things:

1) Email marketing can’t have a sustainable future once RSS becomes mainstream (and with IE7 out that’s not going to be far off).

The real user control over subscriptions means that RSS will become channel of choice for digital communications – email will be reduced to a secondary supporting marketing channel.

The lesson for businesses is that having a website and an email marketing programme isn’t enough. Content and messages need to be available by RSS feed as well to give users that choice.

2) Tools that help manage, sort and prioritise RSS feed content will become ever more useful.

The ever-increasing torrent of information that we receive by RSS will mean that there’s a real consumer need to sort and prioritise content. Tools that can do this in an intuitive and user-focused way will make users’ lives easier.

Marketers need to be conscious of this as these kind of tools will also enable consumers to sort overtly commercial messages from other types of content.

As marketers we’ll need to ensure that our messages have enough content value to be worth reading and engaging with, rather than just being sales pitches.

The other challenge will be how marketers can personalise their marketing through RSS, although I haven’t really worked out how that could be done yet. Any ideas gratefully received…