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The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

by John Botscharow [web site]

Let me start off by saying I agree with Rok's statement that a change from email marketing to some other technology for marketing does involve a change in consumer behavior. However, I disagree with his assessment that Internet consumers are as technophobic and resistant to change as he paints them. Here are a couple of facts that I will use to counter his statement:

A study by REALNetworks a few years ago said that 86% of web users are more likely to stay to watch a multimedia presentation than they are to read a long piece of text on a web site.

Every day I see ads for video email, talking email, all kinds of new forms of email. HTML email is the preferred format now as opposed to a few years ago. Flash email is becoming commonplace.

But there is a significant difference between the two facts although they both deal with media presentations. A visitor to a web site is in control, more or less, of what they see or hear or read. The consumer chooses to visit the web sites they visit. Marketers have to pull visitors to their sites. We cannot shove our sites in their faces.

That is not true with email. Email is push technology. With all the major email clients or web-based free email accounts that people use, you have to download the message in order to decide if you want to read it or delete it. A Flash email or a video email will start running the minute you click on it. And you are exposed to the content, no matter how offensive, the minute you click on it. Suggesting using subject lines as a criteria for deciding whether to open it or not is naive. Email marketers have gotten very good at using deceptive subject lines to trick you into opening their messages.

There has been an increase in the use of spam filters both at the ISP level and the personal OEM level which has helped, supposedly, reduce the amount of unwanted email. To believe that the real spammers have not already designed a number of ways around those filters is the height of naivete. The only way to truly get rid of the spam problem is to radically change the technology involved in email. But then it's not email anymore.

The filters may eliminate some of the unwanted email but they also too often filter wanted email There were two studies done on the effect of filters. One study stated that 17% of requested and wanted emails were filtered our. The other study put the figure at 38%.

The biggest selling point for other technology like RSS and modified versions of RSS is that this technology puts the consumer back in control of what they see and read. Since RSS feeds use some sort of software that the subscriber has to download and install, and the feed is direct to the consumer's computer, there is no chance of non-delivery.

Also, because the consumer decides which feeds he wants to receive, and he receives only the feeds he has requested, there is no chance of unwanted messages. So the subscriber is back in control of what they get. Not the marketer, not the spammer, not the ISPs or some filtering software.

Rok, do you really think consumers are going to say, "No, I do not want control of my information. I'd rather keep my email and put up with the porn, the drug dealers, the rip off artists. etc that I get in my email?" I think not.

One of the reasons for the slow acceptance of RSS feeds has been the software used to read them - the aggregators. Most of the more well-known ones are a bit difficult to install and to use. But that is changing. There are new ones on the market, like the Awasu from Quikonnex. which is the system I use for the Daily, that is very simple to install and to use. my 12 year-old daughter installed it on her computer and she learned to use it in about `0 minutes. Heidi is no geek, so I think it is safe to say that the average subscriber would have no problem with this system. And it is all completely free.

The nice thing about systems like Quikonnex is that the subscriber is in control. You pick what channels - content feeds = you want. You decide how often you want the software to update your feeds. You choose when to open the program and look at your messages. The subscriber is completely in charge.

IMHO, as consumers become more aware of what the alternatives to email are, and how easy they are to use, you will see more and more of them switching. Consumers want to be in charge and it is time that marketers came to grips with that reality. They are tired of having useless and unwanted information shoved in their faces and their inboxes.

To come back to my statement in the first paragraph. I think the major difference between Rok and myself on this subject is grounded in our philosophies of marketing as well as our understanding of human psychology. I've know Rok for a number of years now and we've had some very long and profound discussions. I consider him a very good friend but I have known for some time we will probably never see eye-to-eye on things. Rok is conservative, a traditionalist, and thinks that everyone else is too. Me, I am a radical, a thorn in the side of the establishment, and I think that people are more open to change, if presented to them properly.

Rok takes a more traditional approach to marketing. Rok would do well working for one of the prestigious marketing firms. Me, I'm a true guerrilla, not only in the sense that Jay Levinson uses the word, but more in the sense that Guy Kawaski uses the term. It is the guerrillas of the world that are in the forefront of the fight for changes. I would never be happy other than working for myself. I am never satisfied with the status quo. I believe there is always room for improvement.

The email marketing system is ineffective. It has become a liability rather than an asset for marketing. It is beyond repair. It needs to be replaced. IMHO, email marketing is dead. It just does not know it - yet.

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