First off, let me state I’m a big fan of MarketingSherpa so no offence is intended toward the work they do. That being said, their latest report on RSS is all wrong.

One of the reasons they state for companies not to embrace RSS as a communications tool is it’s lack of market penetration. They state 91% of Americans use email vs. 4% (or so) that use RSS. Fair point. Remember 1991? How many people had even heard of email? I myself didn’t fully embrace email until about 1997 and then only grudgingly. Seemed clunky, I couldn’t make it look like I wanted it to and it was slow. It wasn’t until I started working full time and literally had to communicate via email that I finally got into a groove with it. Like every other communications tool in the history of the world there is an adoption curve to RSS that will have one of two possible outcomes: Mass adoption or abandonment in the face of a better alternative.

They say that a number of those people who do have RSS feeds coming into an aggregator don’t check their feeds daily, whereas email is checked regularly. Fair point. My rebuttal to this is the same as the above point on market penetration.

I’m not going to rebut the entire report point by point. Suffice it to say that I don’t believe it’s immensly important to track the number of subscribers to an RSS feed. Where’s the value in that? What I do think is important is that trackback technology be available on whatever feed is available. That way when a corporate announcement is published the publisher will be able to see, easily and quickly, where that message has been picked up and commented on. That’s the important measurement since that is going to play into brand and reputation management.