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What if no one came to your web site?

Web feeds, such as RSS (and e-mail before that), are part of a new wave of information integration—content that is part of your customer’s daily experience. Just as marketers have always depended on television and radio to slip their messages into a customer’s day, now Web feeds can do the same. More than ever, interactive content will come to your customer just as offline messages do today—you no longer have to wait for customers to come to your Web siteBut just as customers can choose your content, they can also cancel their subscription.
Because the customer can immediately cancel if unhappy, your marketing message must be far more subdued—the softest of soft sells. To reach busy, hard-to-reach people, you must make it easy for them to consume the content they want, when and where they want it. Sun’s Vice President of .Web Properties Curt Sasaki notes, “We may have zero people coming to sun.com [someday] because they subscribe. We want to make sure all of our content is subscribable.”
Because those customers use feed readers to closely control both what they see and when they see it, it’s challenging to know exactly which content they actually looked at. Depending on how technology advances, it might become harder yet. You might have heard of the concept called the Semantic Web, in which software can understand the meaning of content. Such software would allow customers to take in thousands of feeds and have the most relevant information extracted for viewing. It’s possible that you might not know whether your message was seen. You might even have to pay customers to read them.
Semantic software might put pressure on marketers in other ways. If your customers prefer messages that are “real”—rather than bombastic—a semantic filter might serve as a “hype meter,” eliminating anything a bit too “sales-y.” Google’s Eric Schmidt has spoken about developing a “truth detector” that discerns the honesty of politicians, so marketers might not be far behind.
So the short of it is that subscriptions mean that customers don’t have to visit your site to get your message—you can reach them just as you do with other media—but they have control at every moment. The marketers who provide messages that customers consider valuable will be given continuing permission to send those messages.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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