RSS is the ultimate opt-in

December 1st, 2004

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If you haven’t heard about RSS yet, you need to check it out! RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a standard designed for syndicating headlines and other web content to other websites. It has evolved into a popular means for individuals to keep up with the latest articles and musings across favorite websites — using RSS newsreader software (which is starting to get built into web browsers and email clients). RSS is widely used in blogs (including this one — just check the RSS link on the bottom right column) and on news sites such as the BBC and CNN.

RSS, in my opinion, has the power to turn email marketing on its head. RSS represents a separate web-delivered channel that, quite unlike email, is impossible to spam. If the subscriber doesn’t add your RSS feed to his or her newsreader software or web-based news aggregator (like My Yahoo!), then you can’t break through to him or her. What a brilliant idea! I think it’s inevitable that most newsletters and promotional content will eventually be delivered through RSS feeds rather than to our email in-boxes. The overload of spam is driving many consumers to RSS as a secure and unspamable way of getting news and commentary. And, as David Sklar opines, RSS will hopefully become the standard for companies to actually conduct real business with their customers. David is spot-on when he calls RSS the “ultimate opt-in.”