Syndication Is No Replacement For Email

    December 14, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

At the Syndication Conference in San Francisco there are a lot of believers in RSS as a replacement for email marketing. I can’t disagree more and finally … I found two speakers yesterday who still believe in email. Now, I have a vested interest here … my company iEntry Inc. which publishes WebProNews derives about 70% of our revenue via email ads in our newsletters. We have RSS feeds too!

Speaking on a panel were Jim Brady, Vice President & Executive Editor, Washingtonpost.Com and Andrew Eisner, President, Bayview Consulting. Andrew previously worked for PC World. I also spoke to both of them later at a reception held by Yahoo.

Jim stated that RSS is only responsible for a small percentage of traffic and even a smaller percentage of ad revenue. started accepting ads in RSS feeds earlier this summer. Jim noted that “there just isn’t that much demand from advertisers yet”. He also made it clear that the site is integrating RSS just about everywhere and believes that over time RSS will be a significant factor in pageviews and revenue … but just not now.

And that is precisely the point of this post. RSS has the potential to be a marketing force … but it is only potential. That means folks… it is not guaranteed to happen. It’s just a prediction.

Andrew later told me that he still reads news via email newsletters …. sorting them very effectively in Gmail. He also thinks that RSS has great potential but it is not more powerful than email at this point.

In my opinion RSS is a great concept in that it enables easy syndication of content …. all types of content, not just text and links. But the promise of RSS as a marketing tool that is better than email is only a theory … not a reality. I think it is more likely that RSS and email will ultimately co-exist as powerful marketing vehicles.

The fact is they serve different purposes for marketers. Email is a broadcast medium that can deliver content and marketing messages quickly to large … but targeted … permission based audiences. And because email is used by EVERYONE on the internet on a daily basis it is a powerful way to communicate with people. RSS is a news distribution medium with many users who don’t want to see advertising. Of course, as syndication matures beyond the early adopters RSS could become a prominent advertising medium.

So, when you hear the hype about RSS … don’t believe that email is dead. It is actually on the rebound with less spam, higher open rates and increased subscriptions to newsletters.

Email doesn’t have to die just because RSS has come along… and in my humble opinion it won’t.