But like all marketing efforts, building and distributing an email newsletter takes time and effort that is becoming more stretched in a competitive environment.
That time and effort could go to better use if the process of sending out emails was entirely automated.
RSS to email makes it possible to do so.
Some people have said that RSS is old technology. Yes, it’s true that RSS readers are old technology and rarely used anymore by consumers. They were typically software programs that collected feeds from various sources and compiled them into one fairly easy to read package.
Basic website technology and social media have replaced those readers. They have the ability to aggregate content from various sources more efficiently and with the added benefit of social interaction in response to the content.
Sometimes they use RSS feeds from other sources to collect information It means the technology that used to send content to readers and can also send it to websites, social media sites and even email newsletters.
Building the RSS Template
Most quality content management systems have an RSS tool built into them and can easily grab content for distribution.
For those that don’t, the following code shows a simple RSS template.
<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″ ?>
<title>My Home Page</title>
<description>Content for my email newsletter.</description>
<title>My Headline 1</title>
<description>This is typically the first paragraph of an article.</description>
<title>My Headline 2</title>
<description>This is typically the first paragraph of another article.</description>
Note that the channel represents two articles, both enclosed in the item tag. Each has a headline within the title tag. Each also has a link within the link tag.
Within a content management system, the code on the template will pull those articles out of the database and display them on a Web page.
An email marketing provider with the ability to capture an RSS feed will reach out to the page on a scheduled basis to capture the content, push it into the newsletter and distribute the newsletter, again on a scheduled basis.
RSS to Email Providers
Many vendors provide RSS to email marketing services. Some of them offer free options that either have ads on the emails or limit the number of subscribers or number of emails that go out each month.
The largest is MailChimp, which also is one of the largest providers of all email services. It has a starter plan that is free for up to 12,000 emails or 2,000 subscribers. This one works best with weekly distribution.
Blogtrottr has a free plan that is ad supported, a second plan that costs about $4.36 a month for up to 250 subscribers and a plan with unlimited subscribers at $7.64 a month.
AWeber is $19 a month for unlimited emails and up to 500 subscribers, which may work best for any lists that need daily and highly targeted distribution.
Campaign Monitor offers a $9 a month plan for up to 500 subscribers and 2,500 emails. Like MailChimp, this one is suited for weekly distribution.
Companies with a marketing staff may have the time to craft manually built email marketing campaigns. Small businesses don’t have that luxury.
Marketing experts will point out that automating the entire email process with RSS will not be as effective as building the campaign from scratch.
That may be true, but analysis of many campaigns show that automatic emails can have similar open and click rates as manually built emails.
Even if the numbers are slightly lower than a manual campaign, the savings in time and money will often be worth any minor reduction in performance rates.
Benefits of A/B Campaigns
It may be beneficial to conduct A/B campaigns (if time permits) by sending an automated email to one group of subscribers, a second manually built email to the other half and comparing any differences in performance.
It’s important to keep in mind that any A/B campaign requires at least 100 subscribers for each email to get valid results. Like any survey or poll, the results will have a margin of error.
Some RSS to email campaigns are known to have open rates above 40 percent and click rates between 10 and 20 percent or nearly twice as high as most industry averages.
These emails have virtually no graphics, just content. They provide an important lesson about email marketing. Content that subscribers value matters more than labor-intensive designs.