And while there are ad placement opportunities available, they are limited, according to Elaine O’Gorman, vice president of strategy for Silverpop, an e-mail marketing solutions firm in Atlanta, Ga. O’Gorman discussed RSS technology with attendees at the NCDM Winter 2005 conference. In addition, she explained, recipients aren’t used to seeing ads in RSS feeds, and might be turned off by excessive inclusion of third-party promos.
When it comes to content, Jennings says, “RSS is something that’s not interruptive,” so the feed has to offer something that end users value. For example, she explains, a baby products company could offer moms a weekly coupon feed. But subscription rates tend to be higher for more information-driven feeds—in this case, articles on raising a healthy, happy baby. The feed could integrate product specials with the tips and advice.
Rok Hrastnik, author of “Unleash the Marketing & Publishing Power of RSS,” concurs: “Direct marketers must make a smooth transition from the ‘push’ e-mail mind-set to the ‘pull’ mind-set. [They] must discover ways of effectively repackaging their existing direct marketing content … for RSS delivery. In many cases, this will mean simply creating RSS versions of the same content, while in other cases it might mean having to find new approaches to present this content in the RSS format where consumers demand more relevant value.”
Because you’ve created an RSS feed that contains useful content doesn’t mean people will flock to it. You have to promote it to drive subscriptions. In “RSSDirect,” a report published by Silverpop in 2005, the e-mail firm advises marketers to educate consumers about their RSS feed. In particular, it’s wise to set up a special page on your Web site that explains what RSS is, walks visitors through how to sign up and offers links to various readers and aggregators. For example, W. Atlee Burpee & Co. notes on its Web site which reader it prefers to help guide visitors; CNET.com even points visitors in the direction of its editors' favorite feeds.