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3/30/2006
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Turn RSS Into Really Simple Sales

SimpleFeed helps companies use RSS to nurture customer relationships and generate new revenue

Most people use Really Simple Syndication feeds as a way to get updates from their favorite blogs and Web sites. SimpleFeed takes the idea a step further and helps companies use RSS to nurture customer relationships and generate new revenue.

SimpleFeed CEO Mark Carlson and Alik Eliashberg, executive VP and CTO, were quick to commercialize RSS, launching the company's marketing service in January 2005--about the same time RSS began moving beyond being a toy for Web geeks and into the mass market. The company bills its service as being better than E-mail, Web sites, and even face-to-face meetings for communicating with clients.

SimpleFeed lets people select and subscribe to topics of interest--such as product updates and company news--from companies they do business with. SimpleFeed bills its service as a way to up-sell, cross-sell, and draw in new customers, all based on the premise that clients are more likely to buy if you give them what they want and cut out the noise.

The strategy is to offer services and features that make RSS feeds more effective and measurable. SimpleFeed provides analytics by publishing every feed through a URL that's unique to each client. This lets companies measure their subscribers, assess the content each one is viewing, and determine if they're choosing some RSS feeds over others.

SimpleFeed's plan is to expand beyond its wins with tech companies--Intuit and VMware are among its customers--and into industries such as E-commerce and financial services. "We're moving from a geek technology that only 12% of the world uses to where 40% of the world will start using RSS within the next few years," Carlson predicts.

In February, SimpleFeed introduced a security feature that adds user name and password requirements to RSS feeds, a prerequisite if financial companies are going to get on board. Another new feature makes it easy for a company to import content from a Web page directly into an RSS feed.

As businesses make greater use of RSS, SimpleFeed's challenge is to offer services and features that those businesses don't have the resources to manage themselves.

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