RSS and Email; Working Together
RSS and E-mail: How They Can Work Together?
Copyright 2005 Rok Hrastnik
For most marketers online e-mail is still the key marketing and
communicational tool, with its use ranging from e-zine publishing,
direct sales messages, loyalty campaigns to internal communications
between team members.
But getting e-mail through due to spam filters and spam itself is
getting increasingly difficult, while anti-spam legislation is putting
even legitimate e-mail marketers to risk.
With 100% content delivery ratios, is RSS a replacement for e-mail?
At least right now, certainly not. However, it has become the key
supplement to e-mail delivery. While many internet users are starting
to ignore e-mail subscriptions and subscribe only to RSS content,
the majority is just starting to explore the world of RSS.
As such, the time to get started with RSS is now … if you want to
get an upper hand over your competition before RSS reaches mainstream
and at the same time test the RSS marketing approaches that work
for you. Using RSS as a supplementary content delivery channel,
next to e-mail, is one of the places to get started. But to use
RSS in conjunction with e-mail, you first need to understand some
of the basic relationships between these two tools and e-zines and
A) UNDERSTANDING RELATIONS BETWEEN RSS, E-MAIL, E-ZINES AND BLOGS
How do these four really relate and what does this mean for your
internet marketing strategy?
The most common miss-conception is comparing blogs and e-mail, with
many bloggers actually touting blogs as a replacement for e-mail.
The truth is, there’s no comparison at all, just like comparing
apples and oranges.
The second miss-conception is believing that RSS and blogs are somehow
strongly related or even that RSS is good only for delivering blog
content. The result of this on one side are marketers who do not
see RSS as a full-powered communicational channel, and bloggers
on the other side who refuse to see e-mail as a viable content delivery
Let’s set the record straight in the simplest possible terms. Blogs
and e-zines or newsletters are "the what" --- what you publish online
... the content side.
RSS and e-mail are "the how" --- how you get that content or information
to the reader ... the delivery side. RSS/e-mail and blogs/e-zines
cannot be directly compared.
Blog content and e-zine content can both be delivered via RSS and
e-mail, and there is no direct business/logical relation between,
for example, blogs and RSS.
What makes sense, for example, is comparing e-zines and blogs.
Blogs are "personal" conversations, opinions and news, delivered
in a linear structure, usually written in a more personal style,
and confined to a limited number of content types.
E-zines on the other hand are more similar to magazines or newspapers,
carrying content presented in a complex non-linear content structure,
and having the ability to carry many different content types that
do not mix well together if provided through a linear content structure.
For example, a typical e-zine might include an editorial; a leading
article, representing the prevailing topic of a specific e-zine
issue; supporting articles, clearly structured to show they are
secondary to the leading article; links to the most relevant forum
topics and posts; a news section; different advertisements (banner
ads, textual ads, advertorials etc.); a Q&A section; a featured
Providing all of this content demands a complex content structure
and a strong and experienced editor. The blog format simply does
not provide the level of structure needed to effectively present
such a complex content mix.
B) INTEGRATING RSS IN TO YOUR E-MAIL MARKETING STRATEGY
If you can understand these basic relations you can in fact understand
how much you can integrate RSS in to your e-mail marketing strategy
as a supplement to e-mail as a delivery tool.
For now, here are some of the most basic generic opportunities in
using RSS together with e-mail:
1. Use RSS to announce each new issue of your e-mail e-zine, which
you make available in full on your website.
2. Provide a separate RSS feed for the articles you publish in your
e-mail e-zine and get them to your subscribers as soon as the articles
become available, without them having to wait to receive them in
your e-mail newsletter. The same goes for your news section, if
you have one.
3. If you publish much content in different topic categories in
your e-zine, provide a separate RSS feed for each of those topics.
Take another look at the elements we listed above that a typical
e-zine might include. Each of those elements could in fact become
a stand alone RSS feed.
4. If you’re doing e-mail autoresponder marketing, provide those
very same autoresponders as RSS feeds, allowing your visitors to
subscribe either to the e-mail or RSS delivery channels to receive
the very same content.
5. If you have your own affiliate program, make sure that your affiliates
can also subscribe to your affiliate notices via an RSS feed, not
just e-mail. Basically, all you will be doing is duplicating the
same content you’re sending out via e-mail in an RSS feed.
6. If you’re sending out special notices or updates to your existing
customers via e-mail, create a special limited-access RSS feed to
deliver those same updates via RSS as well.
These should be enough to get you started thinking in the right
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