For two years now I've been mildly infamous in emarketing circles for badmouthing RSS.
Don't take me wrong -- I adore the idea of RSS, a direct opt-in info feed to one's desktop. But, I'm thoroughly underwhelmed with the reality of RSS ... so far. Fewer than 10% of Internet users can reliably be said to use RSS on at least a weekly basis (compared to the 91% who check email that frequently).
And, few RSS feed publishers track any useful results metrics. (Ever asked an RSS fan how the incoming traffic converts compared to other traffic sources? Deafening silence.)
However, RSS is great for certain aspects of search marketing. And, now that both AOL and Yahoo have announced they'll be charging email senders $2.5-$10 per thousand emails sent to guarantee delivery, RSS is looking mighty fine to me.
We all knew the email party had to end, right? It's gotten more and more expensive over the years. MarketingSherpa's average reader is spending more than six figures on email marketing service providers per year now.
But, last week's announcement by AOL may rock everyone's budgets massively. The proposed charges would roughly double most mailers' send costs. (The mainstream press avoid mentioning this by talking about fractions of a cent per name; but, when you do the math, things look ugly.)
What's specifically happening? I can't tell you for sure, despite lots of research and behind-the-scenes interviews, because the AOL and now Yahoo deals have not been detailed in concrete. (As late as last Wednesday all sources said Yahoo would never join the pay-me-to-deliver-email Goodmail program, and that AOL whitelisting would be "phased out." Now both these positions appear to be reversed.)
Fact is, companies such as AOL and Yahoo that process email for their customers can stand to make A LOT of money by charging senders. And hey this is a capitalist society and they are in business to make a profit.
If the charge-to-deliver email trend sticks (and I bet it will) other email clients, from MSN's Hotmail to Gmail, as well as corporate email servers, will start charging too. Your budget for email may double over the next 12 months. And then it will double again when rates start, inevitably, going up.
Just as with CAN-SPAM, the new system won't stop unwanted email. It's simply a toll-road tax and should be labeled as such. (Don't give us guff about improving the in-box for consumers or delivery for mailers. This is about profits, and what's best for your stockholders. And that's ok.)
On the mailer side, hopefully this will galvanize folks to do better list hygiene, segmentation and ruthless pruning of inactives.
And, I can tell you right now, as a mailer myself, RSS is looking pretty danged good right now. We've already offered an RSS feed for quite some time, but now I'm going to start promoting it like crazy. So here are two links for you:
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