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You are here: Home » The Marketing Diary » Column: Direct-to-Desktop Marketing » Alex Williams on RSS: RSS and E-mail

September 28, 2004

Alex Williams on RSS: RSS and E-mail

We continue the series of short RSS interview excerpts, today with Alex Williams of DecisionCast, a company that produces webcasts and events, most especially on developments in RSS and syndication; outsourcing; the search industry and the media.

Alex talks about his views on the relation between RSS and e-mail, and especially how he believes they can work together.

I fully agree with his main points and am also a firm believer that RSS cannot replace e-mail, but it can challenge it in the content delivery arena. However, e-mail is foremost about a 1-to-1 dialogue, and there are no viable candidates to replace it here any time soon.

Rok: What are your thoughts on current RSS penetration and how far do you think it can go?

Alex: That's the million dollar question. RSS penetration is still tiny but companies like Microsoft, Yahoo! and Sun are using RSS in many ways. Increasingly, media companies are using it. Search companies have adopted it. Efforts are undcerway to make it seamless so it's just part of the OS. I think it will go far, especially as a services tool. The real issue is about content. It is easy to publish content to the Internet. RSS allows for content to be published and subscribed to quite easily. As more content goes online, the more valuable RSS and syndication becomes.

Rok: There's been much talk in some circles lately about RSS replacing e-mail as a content delivery tool. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it could happen and why?

Alex: Has radio been replaced by tv? No. Did the VCR kill the movie theater? No. Is RSS disruptive? Yes. RSS has changed how I navigate the Internet. I do not subscribe to e-mail newsletters as nearly as much as I once did. Will I stop using e-mail? No. Will I continue to publish an e-mail newsletter? Yes. My habits will change but e-mail, at least for me, is here to stay.

Rok: How would you compare RSS and e-mail as content delivery tools?

Alex: Do you use e-mail for the most part as correspondence? I do. E-mail is great for correspondence. RSS is great for publishing blogs and updates to your web site. Unlike e-mail, I rarely use blogs as a correspondence tool.

Rok: One of the questions we should start asking ourselves is how to fully integrate RSS in to our marketing and communicational mix. How do you see RSS in relation to other communicational tools and approaches? We're also especially interested in how to use RSS and e-mail together?

Alex: I see RSS as one tool that can be used with e-mail and other media. You do not want to publish everything with RSS. A company description on a web site does not get updated that often to need an RSS feed. RSS is designed for sites that update often. That's how it should be used. E-mail and RSS do work together quite well. For example, I will ofen refer people in my e-mail newsletter to my blog. I will offer people to subscribe to the blog in the e-mail newsletter. You can also offer the e-mail newsletter in your blog, in case people want e-mail updates.

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