Holland: Blogs, RSS Feeds Are Out; Podcasting, Video Streaming Are In

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WALTHAM, MA -- Blogs and RSS feeds may be more hype than reality, while podcasting and video streaming could be good bets for business-to-business direct marketers, according to Anne Holland, president of MarketingSherpa.

Ms. Holland was evaluating the latest new technologies for attendees during yesterday's opening keynote presentation at the New England Direct Marketing Association's annual conference at Bentley College.

According to research, less than 10 percent of IT professionals read blogs regularly while over 50 percent of journalists are avid blog watchers. In other words, there's a lot of hype about blogs and marketers should survey their end users to find out if they're using blogs before investing.

Similarly, RSS feeds have become an object of a lot of attention, yet research indicates the vast majority of people don't know when they are reading an RSS feed. Instead, they often think they are reading content generated by Yahoo News. Ms. Holland's advice is for companies to work their brand name into headlines if they must do RSS feeds.

Podcasting, on the other hand, offers a unique opportunity for BTB marketers because not a lot of companies are involved in it yet. Management consulting firm BearingPoint, for example, used a podcast to advertise the availability of a white paper and generated several hundred qualified leads, Ms. Holland said.

Streaming video is another opportunity, now that the technology has become relatively inexpensive. The video image should only take up a portion of a Web site page and Ms. Holland recommended using real people instead of paid spokespeople in the spots. One company actually mailed video cameras to customers and asked them to mail back testimonials that it then put up on its Web site. These "converted like crazy," Ms. Holland said.

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