“The opportunity with RSS is twofold,” Sewell said. “One is just out-and-out advertising as a matter of lead generation—driving traffic and acquiring new customers. At the same time, we're also doing a lot of work with RSS not just to collect new leads but for lead nurturing and lead management. For cultivating existing prospects, RSS can be just one more vehicle to help you stay in front of a community of interested prospects.”
Sewell is one to be taken seriously on the topic of lead nurturing. His company has built its business on helping b-to-b clients move leads down the sales funnel.
One b-to-b marketer that Connect Direct has helped is Cisco Systems, whose News@Cisco group not only distributes all its content via RSS but uses targeted RSS ads to reach new prospects as well.
In the first three months of experimenting with RSS ads, RSS subscriptions increased 160% for Cisco, Sewell said, along with similar increases in blog views and subscriptions to electronic newsletters. The key to making an RSS lead-nurturing campaign work is seeding syndicated content with additional calls to action, such as downloading related action, attending a webinar or subscribing to other feeds.
“As much as we can, we like [RSS-distributed] content to be the type of thing that would drive an additional response,” Sewell said. “Marketers are completely missing the opportunity if they are not aggressively promoting RSS and e-mail newsletters as subscription vehicles. Organic search results to a blog are great, but why not capture that person and generate repeat traffic.”
“I do think RSS could be relevant to b-to-b marketers; in fact, more relevant to their audiences than other feeds might be for consumers,” said Forrester's Katz. “B-to-b marketers could send product updates and announcements, staffing changes, etc.—all without inundating their customers and prospects and with 100% guaranteed delivery. But they do still need to inform their users about the best ways to use RSS.” M