Email Might Still Be King …

    November 14, 2005

Whatever the evangelists say about new communication channels like RSS, the reality today is that email as a direct marketing tool still reigns supreme among online media.

BBC News: Tesco is bombarding UK consumers with a massive e-mail marketing campaign. Way ahead of its supermarket rivals, it issued 44 separate e-mail campaigns last month, more than Sainsbury, Asda, Waitrose and Somerfield put together. According to e-mail marketing firm Interactive Prospect Targeting Services, Tesco is blitzing the nation with 16-20 million e-mails per month.

As a push-tool used in the way Tesco illustrates, it can’t be beaten for its ability to reach enormous numbers of people, and reach them quickly and interactively.

We’re talking quantity here, though, not quality:

[…] “More people shop with us online than with anyone else and we do communicate with a lot of them by email,” said a spokesperson for Tesco. “We know that customers hate junk mail so we try to target them as much as possible and make it easy for them to stop receiving emails if they don’t want them.”

Yet here’s where it gets interesting – Tesco also offers an RSS feed of its Deal of the Day.

This is Tesco’s toe in the water for RSS, I would imagine. Tesco is the only supermarket on whose website I could find an RSS feed – none of the others mentioned in the BBC story has a feed, not that I could discover. Yet I’d expect more supermarkets to embrace RSS. Still doing email, of course, but more RSS.

So my prediction is – more RSS feeds by consumer-focused businesses such as supermarkets. It’s getting easier for people to use RSS (often without realizing it) and will get easier still as more businesses offer information via RSS, as simpler ways of describing it emerge (like ‘live bookmarks,’ for instance), and as it becomes ever more easier to get the information offered via RSS. (Related development: expect more advertising in RSS.)

It’s the heir to the direct marketing throne.

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Neville Hobson is the author of the popular blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: