October 04, 2006

Multichannel Marketing: RSS Feeds

Multichannel retailers have been slow to move into the marketing channel known as "RSS Feeds". This is surprising, because in its simplest form, an RSS feed only takes about ten lines of programming code to write.

eBags uses RSS Feeds to notify customers about products. This is an example of a page where eBags makes an RSS Feed available. By subscribing to the feed (Google Reader is a good RSS reader for those just starting to dive into RSS), users receive periodic updates about the product classification of their choice.

This is the feed I received today, for North Face merchandise. http://response.ebags.com/bin/blog?pid=67D9A27890DBFA84BFFDE51580E8E80D

RSS Feeds have an advantage over email, in that the customer opts-in to the feed. The customer can opt-out at any time. There isn't any need for assistance from the information technology folks, the customer drives the process. RSS Feeds also bypass all can-spam problems created by email. The customer decides what she wants to receive. You decide when you want to create new information for her. Best of all, the customer uses RSS to pull your brand into her reader. She basically sees your product without ever visiting your website.

Nobody is suggesting that your web sales will triple by offering RSS Feeds. It is likely that fewer than ten percent of your visitors use RSS Feeds today. But the cost to write the programming code for an RSS feed is basically zero. Any sales you generate via a feed make an RSS initiative profitable. When Microsoft releases the next version of Internet Explorer next spring, subscribing to RSS Feeds will be much easier. So why not get a head start now, learn what works and doesn't work, and be ready to implement a good strategy next Spring?

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