Contrary to general opinion, RSS meets the needs of even the most demanding direct marketer, actually providing most of what e-mail marketing does, except for the strong push factor.
Most direct marketing reasons against RSS are in fact the result of inadequate understanding of RSS by most marketers.
a] Scheduled and autoresponder messages
There are already a few services and software packages on the market that allow for scheduled and autoresponder messages via RSS feeds. Once your visitor subscribes to your special RSS feed, he can receive a pre-determined set of messages in a specific time frame, determined by you. Use these messages to welcome your new reader to your RSS feed; thank your new customer after the purchase, send him additional information about the ordered product and give him the opportunity to buy an additional product at a lower price tag a couple of days later, and so on.
b] RSS metrics
RSS can in fact be tracked: track anything from the number of your subscribers, their reading habits, their reading frequency to your click-through rates and activities after clicking-through from your feed. This includes tracking which of your RSS feeds are performing better, are more interesting to your readers and drive more sales ... and the same for individual content items.
c] Message targeting
Since RSS feeds can be dynamically generated on a per-user basis, you can easily track the interests of your individual subscribers and then target marketing messages directly to them, making each message relevant to their needs and interests in order to increase your sales success.
d] Message personalization
If you generate your RSS feeds for each individual user, you can also personalize these feeds. Basic personalization includes elements such as the reader's first name, while more advanced personalization might include personalized content and product recommendations and so on.
e] Data capture
E-mail marketers have already become experts at using opt-in forms to get as much information from the prospect as possible; the prospect's name, interests, the current products they are using, current position in the purchase cycle and so on. RSS can be used in the same way, giving your visitors access to the RSS feed only after they've filled in a simple or complex opt-in form. This can work with e-zine subscriptions, as well as forms you require your visitors to fill in to either register on your website or download your free report or whitepaper.
Good news for direct marketers is that these capabilities are already available in many RSS publishing/marketing solutions, available at very acceptable prices, accessible even to the smallest companies.
Rok Hrastnik is the author of »Unleash the Marketing & Publishing Power of RSS«, acclaimed as the best and most comprehensive guide to RSS for marketers by leading RSS experts. The complete guide on RSS for marketers: http://rss.marketingstudies.net/book/t/