DM News' Essential Guide to E-Mail Marketing: The Effect of RSS on E-Mail Marketing

Every day that I open my inbox, my e-mail program has cheerfully, carefully and joyfully marked 88 percent of my incoming mail as spam. And that’s just the percentage that reached the e-mail server, which itself already threw out an untold additional amount of mail.

Furthermore, as part of new security settings, most e-mail programs won’t even display the images in rich HTML e-mails because spammers put unique codes into the images. That way, if you looked at the message, they can match that code with your e-mail address and add your address as a verified account, which is good for spammers and bad for you.

Yet the advertising, marketing and editorial communities continue to swing the dead cat of e-mail marketing. The latest prediction is that 95 percent of all e-mail will be spam by mid-2006. But even more than a year ago, spam was reported to have hit 85 percent.

Sure, most marketing organizations say, “We’re not spammers! We sign everything! We have an opt out! We follow privacy rules!” Their intentions and safeguards may be good, but the real question is: Are people reading these e-mails? Probably not. The sheer volume growth of e-mail has turned those once-valuable e-communications into something that people delete immediately.

Now even e-mail systems delete e-mail proactively as an anti-spam measure. Notice how many of the new e-mailings you receive ask you to add them to your address book? That’s so the anti-spam software won’t delete them out of hand before you get a chance to open the message and, in turn, validate your address.

So, as technology improves to help you get rid of spam before it even pollutes your mailbox, spammers are improving their own techniques and tactics to get you to click on their messages before you even realize what you have done.

What has not changed is that people need and want the information that comes in e-mail newsletters. Obviously, people still need to be up to date on the events, news and opportunities in their fields and areas of interest.

But instead of relying on the old “push” style of e-mail content, savvy users have migrated to Really Simple Syndication feeds to get information important to them. This lets readers choose what content they want and when they want it. They can look at information when they have the time or desire to do so, rather than having yet another e-mail appear in their inboxes.

Recent moves within both Apple’s Safari Web browser and FireFox natively support RSS within the browser so users can add a tab and see the latest headlines or news from sites that they care about.

With RSS Readers, people get the information they want in a format of their choosing that they access when they want to. And given recent moves in the RSS advertising space, this format gives marketers’ ad campaigns the chance to reinvigorate their target audience by reaching out to the early adopters via RSS.

Indeed, as RSS moves into the mainstream, marketers will know much more about when, who and why people are reading the news – a nice change from the load-up-the-e-mail-cannon-and-fire days. Sure, e-mail will stay around. But just as short text messages and instant messenger have supplanted some of e-mail’s power, RSS takes that trend even further.

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