Currently there are 3 main types of broadcast Internet messaging systems that you can use to deliver newsletters, e-zines and other informational materials to your customers.
I’m not going to cover here internal or intranet messaging systems, the main focus of this article is on the virtual world outside your local/corporate network.
The main Internet Broadcasting Systems are:
– Email broadcasts that are sent through sender’s ISP and received with the email client of your customer (such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Web Mail systems, etc.)
– RSS Feeds delivered through web-based RSS Aggregators.
– Completely customizable and personalized multi-media messages that are sent through RSS Channels and received with branded RSS Readers (such as Private Mail Reader and Feed Demon).
E-mail communications used to be a very efficient way to deliver information to your prospects and customers. This was working well until we got spammers – thousands of unethical people trashing your inboxes with annoying junk offers without any permission on your part. Nobody really wanted these products, ISP customers were irritated with email-boxes full of irrelevant content, to say the least.
Big and small ISP companies (Internet Service Providers) responded by developing anti-spam filters and society at large was forced to work out a set of anti-spam laws regulating the use of e-mails.
So legitimate internet marketers had to accommodate themselves to these unpleasant changes by implementing various forms of opt-in verifications. In other words, now the customers have to confirm in some way that they give you permission to send them e-mails.
And you inevitably loose a percentage of your customers who for some reasons doesn’t want to go through the opt-in process.
Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Anti-spam filters are now so tight, that they easily throw in the bulk folder even legitimate e-mails. How it could happen? Well, you may accidentally use some of the “bad words” – such as “free”, “buy”, “purchase”, etc (there are hundreds of “spam words” and the list grows every day). You know very well what happen to the bulk folder emails – they are as good as trash. Chances that recipient will ever read bulk emails are slim to none.
You also loose some of your readers when you try to enhance their experience by sending emails in html format (which would allow you to add colors, and pictures to your email, use different fonts, etc).
You might want to go even further and insert audio or video streams into your emails to give your readers the opportunity to better comprehend the featured topic.
You might want to do other neat things….
Well, don’t bother. Sorry to disappoint you, but your efforts will be in vain. Major ISPs consider html to be the format for commercial emails and as such it triggers spam filters almost automatically.
Some analytic companies estimate that you can easily fail to reach as much as 70% of your customers in the nearest future. According to Doubleclick, one of the e-mail delivery leaders, the average rate of opened e-mails in 4th Quarter of 2004 declined 11.4% from Q4 2003, and is now only 32.6%.
Very bright picture, isn’t it?
Luckily, there is a solution, and it comes in a form of RSS technology (Really Simple Syndication).
To put it simply, RSS Feeds are the streams of information presented in xml format. This syndication allows webmasters to find the feeds of interest written by other authors and easily place them on their own web sites (with authors permission, of course). The Big Benefit is that this information is automatically updated every time when the particular RSS feed is updated.
In case of RSS aggregators, readers simply subscribe to the feeds and read them through web-based user interfaces (one of the popular RSS aggregators, for example, is My Yahoo – find the RSS Feeds of your choices, add them to your My Yahoo page – and you will receive the update on what is new on these feeds and will be able to read it in user-friendly format (you don’t have to learn xml). Each time you go to MY Yahoo you will be informed which of these feeds were updated in the last 3 days.
And finally, there is a third option – RSS Readers. It gives readers the ability not to worry about the information of their choice being blocked by ISP anti-spam filters. They can simply download RSS Feed Reader and enjoy the benefits of private media-rich environment from your computer!
You don’t have to go to any websites to get these data and you’re not forced to receive this information, you decide where and when to receive it. (Whereas with e-mails you’re facing the fact that anybody could send them to your mailing address).
There are a many good RSS readers out there. Some are free, other offer free trial. The most well-known is FeedDemon (has free trial), then goes SharpReader, NewsCrawler, Awasu, PMR etc.