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Marketing Integration: Let's Just Go Back to Faxing

Tom at WebFeed Central does not agree with my assesement that bloggers should start delivering their content via e-mail as well:

"I totally understand where the Lockergnome article, which got the information from is coming from, but while we're at it, why don't we just go back to sending broadcast faxes? This has got to be the most ridiculous suggestion that I've ever seen!"

Actually, he makes a strong point (though sarcastic:) --- yes, if your customers and prospects respond to broadcast faxes and prefer them to other methods of getting content from you, you should "go back" to sending broadcast faxes.

In fact, many internet marketers have "reverted" to partially communicating with their customers via postal direct mail. Their reasoning is simple: e-mail isn't getting through, RSS does not have enough reach, but postal mail actually gets delivered and their customers respond to it.

But using any and all means of communicational channels appropriate is no stranger to direct marketers. One of the keys to achieving better marketing results is integrating all available communication (and content delivery) channels to reach your customers/prospects/other audiences using tools:

  • that are most affective,

  • generate the best response and ROI,

  • that our audiences actually prefer,

  • that our audiences want.

Delivering information via broadcast faxes would not be going backwards, but actually forward: accepting the fact that customers now control this game; and if we are to succeed, we need to play it according to their demands and preferences, not our own.

Making a pro-choice decision in favor of your customers never means going backwards.

And when I say integrate various communicational channels, I mean:

  • RSS

  • E-mail

  • Direct postal mail

  • Fax

  • Mobile

  • Telemarketing

  • And so on ...

Making a stand for something you believe in (such as in this case RSS) is wonderful, but if you're a marketer your first priority have to be your results.

And of course, the communicational/content delivery mix you choose should always depend on your target audiences and their characteristics.

Tom says:

"You know, amateur radio (ham radio) will get you in "every neck of the woods", if that's what you're after. What percent of the American population owns computers? I'm sure that it's growing, but what about those people that don't own one? How are you going to reach them? Come on?"

Well, if you wanted to reach the percentage that doesn't use computers, you certainly couldn't broadcast your message via means of internet communications.

Content delivery channels should never be something we emotionally fall in love with, but something we use, without prejudice, to achieve our business goals.

Moving back to RSS, blogs and e-mail ...

"This is just such a backwards way of looking at the whole situation. Why not just send out "one" email, explaining what tools are needed, and how to subscribe to your feed."

One e-mail message is not enough, especially for people who've never before heard of RSS or aren't using it yet.

The question is: are you strong enough (with your customers) to make them switch content delivery channels, just to receive your content? Perhaps, but not with just one e-mail. It's an educational process, not a one-shot campaign.

And even if so: how about those subscribers who do not want to switch to RSS, but prefer e-mail?

Chris (Lockergnome) has been educating his visitors (a tech audience, which should put things in better perspective) on RSS for a few years now, and he still has about 20% of e-mail subscribers. Should he just tell them to "get lost"?

A customer is a customer, whether he uses RSS or e-mail. Forcing him to use any of these two is negating the whole concept of relationship marketing.

I never thought I'd be "standing" here convincing people that e-mail is still a viable marketing tool, especially since I'm a strong advocate of RSS. But we need some objectivity!

  • RSS is growing and will continue to grow, but e-mail is still a viable marketing tool. Using both is a sound business decision.
  • But still RSS does not reach enough people to become our only content delivery channel. And even if it did, the ultimate choice should always be in the hands of our customers.
  • Do not think of RSS only in terms of delivering your blog content to end-users. Think about using RSS for search engine optimisation, delivering new content types (such as audio - podcasts), delivering different content types (frequently updated news, product information, customer updates, application upgrades etc.), content syndication etc.
  • But do not forget that in the end channel combinations decide who the winner is.

First of all, the question for marketers is not "E-mail OR RSS", but how to create best "E-mail AND RSS" combinations ... and use these in combination with other channels as well.

And second of all, let's not forget that it's our customers that should ultimately decide ...

Tom just posted a reply to the above post. Before I go on let me just say that I really enjoy discussions like this, although I am a little bit ill today and am running horribly behind my schedule.

Anyway, Tom says:

"If you are selling a product or service, the more people that you can reach, the better return or profit you get. When you are not "selling" anything, except maybe and idea or an opinion, it is less important to reach as many people as you possibly can."

Tom, I can't agree. Granted, I did mention profits above, but marketing isn't just about selling something for cash.

It's also about spreading ideas --- marketing them, to whomever you want to reach. An idea is a "product" just like anything else, and you have to "sell" it to your audience. But how can you do that if you can't reach them? How important are your (our) ideas really to the people we're talking with?

At the beginning, an idea might not be as important to someone as we'd like. We need millage, we need the time and energy to covert them ... but in order to do that we need to communicate with them. But if we can't start the communicational process, how will we do this?

Another important point --> I didn't actually say 'reaching as many people as we can' ... but reaching the right people.

"The majority of journalists on the internet are not "marketers". In fact, most of the journalists (read: bloggers), and others that provide RSS feeds for their web sites are delivering news, editorials, and opinions via their blogs."

Journalists market their stories, in order for them to be read. Catchy titles are just part of the mix. I've been the Internet Manager at a business daily newspaper (print) for 2 years and although not a journalist, I can attest from personal experience that journalists are marketers ... and if they're not, they should be.

Not marketers for money, but marketers for their work ... marketers for getting their work read by the right people.

Actually, I regard many print editors I know as top marketers.

"There is no way that I would even think about "partially" communicating with my readers via postal direct mail!"

Hey, I wouldn't either, but I can see why it makes sense for many marketers ... and for newspapers as well:)

"If "e-mail isn't getting through", why did you suggest a "(weekly or monthly) e-mail e-zine" in your March 24th post?"
  • According to DoubleClick, only about 35.3% of e-mail is being opened.
  • The marketers I'm in contact with are seeing app. 20-50% open-rates for their campaigns.
  • On the average, for every campaign (e-zine or promo) we send out, we're seeing about 12% of sent messages not being delivered.

But regardless of this, e-mail still works. Even though many of our messages aren't getting through, it still generates a positive ROI and gets our content read and reacted to.

According to the Winterberry Group e-mail marketing generates a $15.50 return per invested dollar.

Whichever way you look at it, in the end it's all about mathematics. While e-mail is no longer the tool it was, it still brings in sales and is still the #1 content delivery channel.

And if we want to increase the awareness of RSS and increase its market penetration, we need to use e-mail to covert our existing audiences and the people that still don't know about it.

"One of the best things about RSS is that it is the reader's "choice" to subscribe. They can also choose to delete my feed at any time. They don't even have to let me know that they're watching."

Yes, I totally agree! But then, why force the reader in to this if he doesn't want it? Aren't you then taking the choice away from him?


On the contrary; it doesn't force the reader into anything. The reader has the choice to subscribe, or not to subscribe.

This topic has sort of come full-circle for me. I was originally pointed here by somebody pointing to Lockergnome, which then pointed to you. I've just found another link from Lockergnome's RSS Resources Page that points to an article that was written ten months ago.

Email v RSS, let us move on...

Posted by: Tom Simpson at March 31, 2005 7:03 AM

Yeah, full-circle.

Alex's article is wonderful and very nicely explains the relation between RSS and e-mail, and I especially like his opening statement:

"I thought I'd point to some of these...bottom line is that Email as a sales driver has had dramatic success over the years...the debate should move away from RSS v Email and move to how RSS can become part of the marketing mix."

Posted by: Rok Hrastnik at March 31, 2005 7:51 AM

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