NYTimes: RSS Is Like An Email Newsletter

    January 29, 2006

A timely article in the travel section of today’s Times, entitled “There’s a Popular New Code for Deals: RSS,” (grab it before it rolls behind the registration wall) shows how travel company marketers are using RSS to supplement their existing email newsletter campaigns with RSS feeds.

The interesting thing about this article is that it introduces yet another metaphor for RSS : “it’s like an email newsletter.” (We were just talking about “better” metaphors for RSS here.) While this utterly trivializes the technical aspects and capabilities of the technology, it’s a neccesary step to enable “true” mass adoption of the technology. The intricacies can be explained later, when needed.

It’s certainly a better turn-of-phrase than “RSS is like an API for content,” which is another contender.

Their elevator pitch:

“[T]hose willing to spend a few minutes to create a personalized home page on Yahoo, MSN, Google or other sites now have a useful alternative. Recently, these sites began allowing consumers to populate their home pages with similar information they’d find in e-mail newsletters, with two added benefits: all the relevant information from multiple sites appears on one page, instead of multiple e-mails, and the information is often considerably fresher, with several updates a week – or even a day.

What’s more, the most recent information is there whenever you’re in the mood to check it, not when your e-mail tells you to.”

Read the Times article if you have the time to do so. After the headline, it has to invest seven paragraphs of background before being able to make first reference of “RSS.” That’s way too long. We need to keep making this easier, and this characterization is a good start.

Christopher Carfi, CEO and co-founder of Cerado, looks at sales, marketing, and the business experience from the customers point of view. He currently is focused on understanding how emerging social technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking are enabling the creation of new types of customer-driven communities. He is the author of the Social Customer Manifesto weblog, and has been occasionally told that he drives and snowboards just a little too quickly.