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Every day, millions of people in the world receive hundreds of marketing emails that, most of the time, are identified as spam in their mailboxes.  Direct email campaigns (or email blasts) are losing effectiveness each day.  CRM products like MS-CRM and third-party ‘campaigners’ have been providing significant improvements to their software so that the users can actually opt-in or out from a distribution list and receive only emails that they are interested in. 


 


This pattern is quite similar to the way RSS operates; you sign up for a feed and receive only the news about the topics you care about.  The growth of RSS feeds in the world as well as the many readers available nowadays makes RSS a very interesting prospect to deliver advertisement over the net.  However, unlike email, you cannot just simply send your feed to a specific customer, there is not such thing (yet) as an RSS address you can target. Therefore, how can the RSS channel be exploited by MS-CRM for marketing automation purposes?  


 


Here are some of my thoughts:


 



  • MS-CRM could let CRM customers create an email or a Web page link that allows users subscribe to a personalized RSS feed. If the user subscribes, the feed is created in MS-CRM and updated regularly with marketing automation (MA) content. It would be like creating RSS feeds (not just the content) on the fly.

 



  • Because is quite probable that the MS-CRM customer already has clients subscribed to RSS feeds, MS-CRM could target those clients using the existing feeds. This alternative seems quite challenging because there are dozens of ways in which RSS feeds can be generated; therefore the feeds would need to be standardized (or connected), somehow, to make them work in sync with MSCRM.

 



  • The user creates a campaign in MS-CRM and targets customers through RSS; MS-CRM contacts a ‘centralized’ database of RSS feeds and queries for the users being targeted by the campaign; if the user has relevant RSS feeds registered, MS-CRM could send MA information to the ‘centralized’ database which in turn will populate the feeds.  I really like this alternative because this centralized entity can also ‘regulate’ the use of the feeds avoiding potential spam issues. Efforts have already been performed by some players to build this centralized entity of feeds, for example www.feedburner.com. Having those ‘centralized’ entities available makes the idea of a global RSS address not so distant.  

These solutions are indeed imperfect and impose privacy, social and commercial issues that must be dealt with, but I find them to be a good starting point to brainstorm about the MA-RSS topic.  


 


I would really like to hear opinions from our readers about this topic so please feel free to share your thoughts.


 


By the way, if you are interested in other usages of RSS within MS-CRM don’t miss to check the “MS-CRM 3.0 RSS connector”, see: http://blogs.msdn.com/mikemill/archive/2006/03/24/560334.aspx


 


Humberto Lezama Guadarrama

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