Although RSS and blogs are slowly reaching mainstream, they are still missuderstood by most marketers in relation to each other and in relation to their relatives, e-zines and e-mail. How do these four really relate and what does this mean for your internet marketing strategy?
The most common missconception is comparing blogs and e-mail, with many bloggers actually touting blogs as a replacement for e-mail. The truth is, there’s no comparison at all, just like comparing apples and oranges.
The second missconception is believing that RSS and blogs are somehow strongly related or even that RSS is good only for delivering blog content. The result of this on one side are marketers who do not see RSS as a full-powered communicational channel, and bloggers on the other side who refuse to see e-mail as a viable content delivery vehicle.
Let’s set the record straight …
RSS and e-mail are content delivery channels; the tools that enable us to deliver our content to end-users, and in the case of RSS, to other websites as well.
Blogs and e-zines are two different internet media content formats, differing in how/what content is provided and presented through them.
Explained in even simper terms:
- Blogs and e-zines or newsletters are "the what" --- what you publish online ... the content side.
- RSS and e-mail are "the how" --- how you get that content or information to the reader ... the delivery side.
RSS/e-mail and blogs/e-zines cannot be directly compared. Blog content and e-zine content can both be delivered via RSS and e-mail, and there is no direct business/logical relation between, for example, blogs and RSS.
Saying that "blogs have some attributes & features that email lacks" is in fact comparing two completely different things (an internet media content format with a content delivery channel), which are not directly related.
What makes sense, for example, is comparing e-zines and blogs ...
Blogs are "personal" conversations, opinions and news, delivered in a linear structure, usually written in a more personal style, and confined to a limited number of content types.
E-zines on the other hand are more similar to magazines or newspapers, carrying content presented in a complex non-linear content structure, and having the ability to carry many different content types that do not mix well together if provided through a linear content structure.
A typical e-zine might include:
- an editorial
- a leading article, representing the prevailing topic of a specific e-zine issue
- supporting articles, clearly structured to show they are secondary to the leading article
- links to "best of" blog posts in the given timeframe
- links to the most relevant forum topics and posts
- a news section
- a featured client case study
- different advertisements (banner ads, textual ads, advertorials etc.)
- a featured consultant
- a Q&A section
- a featured whitepaper
Providing all of this content demands a complex content structure and a strong and experienced editor. The blog format simply does not provide the level of structure needed to effectively present such a complex content mix.
But that's not to say that blogs are in any way inferior to e-zines, they're just different. And businesses need both, and they need to deliver both via RSS and e-mail.
However, what is worrying is that some seem to think that e-zines and e-mail are "backward". That's a dangerous line of thought that comes close to shooting yourself in the foot.
Personal preferences towards content delivery channels and internet content media formats have no place in business. What matters is what our audiences want and how they want it.
Our goal must be to satisfy as many of "our people" as possible, implementing all the tools and technologies needed to achieve this goal. Letting our personal preferences get in the way is dangerous at best.
And even if 90% of our customers/prospects/partners (etc.) preferred RSS to e-mail to receive our content, it would still be good business practice to provide both.