Silverpop has become the first well-known email service provider (ESP) to integrate RSS (define) into its offerings. The company has built a proprietary tool, called RSSDirect, that lets it track individual subscriptions and dynamically generate content for RSS.
Silverpop CEO Bill Nussey said the company's goal was to introduce all the data marketers get with email to the new spam-free medium, which he expects to grow to "near ubiquity" over the next several years.
"The possibilities become incredible when you think about individualized communications that are phish-proof (define) and completely deliverable," he told ClickZ News.
A recent Yahoo/Ipsos Insight study found 27 percent of people on the Internet had used RSS, although only 4 percent consciously did so.
While RSS has traditionally been a medium in which the same content is published to all subscribers, Silverpop has developed technology to let marketers individualize content for each subscriber. Users can also keep tabs on how subscribers interact with content and use that data to better tailor future offers.
"You can start to understand the behavior of the user base and you can offer much more relevant targeting to customers versus purely generic content," said Nussey.
The new Silverpop solution integrates with the company's email list management and publishing system. It's designed, Nussey said, so marketers can introduce RSS syndication of email content without additional work. Additional fees, about the same as Silverpop's email services, would apply.
"Different firms have experimented with this," said JupiterResearch analyst David Daniels, "but Silverpop has really sort of commercialized it."
Other players in the email space have adopted a "wait and see" attitude toward RSS. Michael Della Penna, CEO of Epsilon (formerly Bigfoot Interactive), says it's nice to have but isn't on the top of marketers' wish lists.
"With so few consumers taking advantage of it right now, it's not a top priority," Della Penna said, adding the company does offer RSS via partners. "What you're seeing right now is a lot of marketers testing the waters."
Nussey argues that it doesn't hurt to jump in and try RSS now, while users are just beginning to adopt it.
"[The low user rate] doesn't matter because it's no extra work for you," he said. "There's no reason to wait for RSS to become bigger before you just turn this on and try it."
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Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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