There has been a debate going on; if we have RSS why do we need e-mail lists?
I have a theory why. An RSS feed is relatively impersonal. If you read a column in the newspaper requesting that you perform a community service do you really feel compelled to do so? What about if your mayor sent you a personally addressed letter in the mail?
A few weeks ago Shoemoney sent out a mass e-mail to a lot of people who posted on his blog in the past. He reminded people that he had his first webmasterradio.fm show coming up and asked everyone to link to it. The next day I saw several prominent blogs linking to that story. Traditionally, blogging news is staggered by hours or days. Sending out an e-mail is a way to jump ahead of that curve.
If you run a blog or a content site which has hundreds or thousands of RSS subscribers there are still plenty of reasons to collect e-mail addresses. When a member of one of my sites needed financial help with a kidney, I blasted an e-mail to over 10,000 people. Besides helping that member raise money it also reminded people that subscribed months ago we still exist, and even more it sent a clear message of legitimacy to the audience.
You fanatical readers are going to pay close attention to your RSS feed. For a blogger like me, I watch my subscriptions often. To the casual user, or someone who has been focused on something else, e-mail has some very good uses.
Should you send every single RSS post out as an e-mail? Of course not! The less messages you send, the more effective they will be. Unlike spam, your audience should be thrilled to get a message from you, making its call to action even more powerful.
So why don’t I collect e-mail at WebPublishingBlog.com? I do, indirectly, by keeping track of who has contacted me or purchased a book.