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RSS and customer relationship management ( CRM )

Wondering if people have considered the potential impact RSS may have on customer relationship management ( CRM ) systems that include email newsletters and email alerts. A large law firm customer of lexBlog recently raised the question.

I’d love to get feedback from legal marketing professionals, other marketing & PR folks, lawyers and anyone else to see if they have considered the issue and possible solutions to this new challenge. If you have a blog, and think it’s an interesting question, post the issue and we’ll see what we come up with for thoughts and ideas. Read on to see the question framed.

Large law firms, and I am sure other corporations, rightfully pride themselves with their CRM systems and the accompanying email addresses of customers/prospective customers. By building this list of customers, law firms and corporations have a stable of executives, in house counsel (in the case of law firms) etc they keep mindshare with via email alerts, email newsletters and the like.

Law firms and companies familiar with blogs and their accompanying RSS love what they offer. Corporate marketing emails and email alerts, in addition to being obtrusive, were not getting through fire walls and spam filters. Now customers are able to get the info they want when they want it – that’s good customer service. In addition, the content now published on a blog, as opposed to being buried in data base driven Web sites, is getting indexed and optimized for search engines. So blogs and RSS are no doubt going to extend the reach of the company’s or law firm’s content and the people the firm will maintain mindshare with.

With law firms and corporations using RSS, customers may prefer RSS feeds to email. Thus the email addresses in the CRM system, for other than regular customers, may grow stale and the firm may not be aware of who is reading what. Of course it’s not a rip and replace right now. Corporations will retain email newsletters and email alerts to complement RSS but there may be the risk of natural erosion of a good email address data base.

I am aware of technology that will allow tracking the number of accesses to RSS feeds but not who is accessing. One could set up a free registration system collecting name, company, position held and email address before getting the RSS feed. But I have not seen that done and it would seem to fly in the face of Internet etiquette for RSS feeds.

Look forward to your thoughts.

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