Finding the Marketing Potential in RSS

My post on an analogy for RSS seemed to go down pretty well but it did raise some good questions from Ian Ross and Mark Evans about the value of RSS to the organization.

Ian wants to know the strategic value of RSS and Mark wants to know how to leverage RSS from a marketing perspective.

Here’s an edited portion of what I said to Ian:

In terms of PR potential, RSS could be as powerful as email. You’re having someone OPT-IN to receive more information about your product or service and, if you ask Seth Godin, that permission to interrupt your customer with new content is imperative in today’s “marketing as conversation” world. Many of my clients point to email programmes they run as being the main drivers of traffic to their Web sites. RSS can perform the same function.

Sure, there’s no “strategic” value in having RSS other than as a tactic to the overarching goal of connecting organizations to their customers/stakeholders. which I guess is pretty important…

But thinking about Mark’s request has gotten me thinking about the myriad ways marketers could use RSS both right now, and in the future:

  • Delivery channel for newsletter content
  • Advertising channel (i.e. buying ads through Feedburner/Google)
  • Contextual advertising based on the feed’s content
  • Sponsored items in feed
  • Reward subscribers with special offers
  • Dissemination of frequently updated information to a disparate work force
  • Allow journalists to subscribe to news releases
  • Personalised content based on prior interaction with content (a la email)

What other ways can you think of for marketers to use RSS?

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6 Responses to Finding the Marketing Potential in RSS

  1. Joe Boughner says:

    Do you think there would be a backlash to sponsored items? I think I have seen a few mainstream organizations try it (TSN comes to mind) and abandon it but I can’t remember for sure. I think I might be a bit miffed if my RSS feed reader lit up with a new post by Blogging Me Blogging You only to find it is an ad for Wendy’s or something.

  2. Ed Lee says:

    hey joe – that’s the beauty of contextual advertising! the ads would be served up depending on key words in the feed itself. so unless i wrote one of my marketing-is-like-cooking post, there would be no fast-food ads “served” along with my feed.

    you’d be more likely to see an ad from our good friends at CNW than from the pig-tailed princess.


  3. David Jones says:

    I wouldn’t be looking at tools like RSS as providing any strategy or marketing potential on their own. RSS is another way to deliver content. Carrier pigeon, mail, fax, e-mail or RSS. The recipient really only cares if the content they are getting is worthwhile.

    The power of RSS resides with the recipient as they get to opt in and out as they see fit. The marketing opp is doing something worthy of people opting in to get information from you about it. All the things you mention are marketing collateral that can be delivered by RSS, but not necessarily marketing with RSS.

    The public at large have not caught on to RSS. I don’t think they will for some time. Installing a reader and monitoring another information channel doesn’t necessarily sit at the beginning of Mazlow’s Hierachy of Needs.

    If there is marketing potential in RSS, then it has to get easier to use and more convenient than e-mail for most people.

  4. Eden Spodek says:

    Interesting post. Sorry, but I don’t buy the contextual advertising bit. If I started getting ads with my RSS feed from your blog, I’d probably unsubscribe pretty quickly.

    I agree with Doctor Jones that RSS isn’t a strategy at all but a delivery channel and content is the key. He almost lost me at carrier pidgeon though. 🙂

  5. Ed Lee says:

    Eden – there are ads in plenty of feeds i read regularly and they don’t detract from the overall experience. although i should admit that i do ignore most of them.

  6. […] communications specialistEd Lee investigates the strategic value of Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and its important role in today’s “marketing as conversation” […]

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