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The Death of eMail Debate: My Final Comments

John Botscharow decided to end the debate from his end in one last swing. In the article below he raises some fine points with which I do agree, and some that I think should be clarified somewhat better. Do read it, and then proceed to my comments in the next article ...

The Death of eMail Debate: My Final Comments

by John Botscharow [web site]

Rather than continue the exchange ad infinitum, I am going to make some final comments to summarize my own views on this discussion and then move on to other topics. Rok and I could continue this discussion from now to the Second Coming and neither of us will convert the other because of some fundamental differences I will explain below.

First of all, as the title of one of Rok's articles which was published in WebProNews, so clearly states, he is working on the premise that email marketing can and should be "saved." I am of the opinion that email marketing cannot be saved, nor should it be. I see nothing all so special about email marketing that makes saving it all that important.

I think that the reason we disagree is that we have two very different definitions of what constitutes email marketing. Rok is looking at the kind of email marketing done by large corporations or corporate wanna-bees. People like ClickZ. the various iEntry newsletters, or the big "bulk" mailing services like PostMasterDirect. BTW, WebProNews is an iEntry newsletter and so they have a vested interest in disparaging any competition to their kind of email marketing.

These companies have huge budgets and in-house programmers that allow them to utilize technology in their email sending not readily available to the small independent entrepreneur. One of Rok's complaints about RSS is a lack of personalization. However, if you use a basic list server (either a script on your own server or one of the third-party services commonly used by the small independent publishers), the only customization you can do is name and email address. Heck, any spammer with a good harvester can get that information from your web site, I get a ton of spam that has my name and email address in it. but I never signed up for their list.

So, basic RSS feeds do not allow you to put the recipient's name in it. So what? I don't know about you, but I'd rather receive information I wanted without my name on it, than information I have no interest in with my name.

When I did my newsletter via email, the script I used to send (provided by my web host) allowed for personalization of name and email address in the message. But that made little difference in the click-thrus or the sales I made. I think Rok overemphasizes the importance of doodads like personalization. Unless you have the wherewithal to afford the very sophistacted and expensive technology that allows for you to personalize the content in your email messages, then this point is worthless.

Also, this technology requires a lot more technical ability than even the average RSS aggregator. Most publishers are not programmers, nor do they have one on staff. I doubt if most entrepreneur publishers could even afford to hire a programmer to set this up for them.

I used to have a script I bought a few years that cost me about $50 which was designed to automate my personal email tasks and personalize the content in those automatic responses I gave uo in the program because you had to have more techical skills to set up and run the program than I, or most independent publishers, had or have or ever want to have.

The best way for small entrepreneur publishers to personalize their newsletters is by developing very focused niches and providing content targeted to that niche. We cannot and should not be everything to everyone. Independent publishers need to focus their content and focus it very tightly. If we provide tightly focuses high quality original content, our reader will not care whether we put their names in our newsletters. The only time we need to worry about including their names is in private communications.

Another of his objections is a lack of advanced metrics. Here again the reason for this complaint has to do with his basic assumption of what email marketing is. I certainly would hope that those people who pay the kind of money that the big corporate mailing houses charge are getting advanced metrics. But the basic list servers used by small independent publishers do not provide those kinds of metrics. Actually, the service I use now for my newsletter, which is RSS-based, provides better metrics than most of the services used by independent email publishers.

Another issue that Rok raises is that anyone can subscribe to an RSS feed. Well, last time I looked very few free email newsletters had any restrictions on who subscribed to their lists either. I have no idea what email lists he had in mind when he made that comment. All the lists I belong to or have ever belonged to, and that has included ClickZ, a number of iEntry newsletters, and several lists maintained by PostMasterDirect, none of them have ever restricted me from subscribing to their lists as long as provided them with an email address and my name. So I do not see the problem here.

To sum all this up, the reason Rok and I do not agree on the future of email marketing is that we have a very different understanding of email marketing. Rok sees small independent publishers and marketers as insignificant and of little consequence in the future of marketing. He feels that the future of marketing will be determined by the large corporate entities like those listed above.

I see those corporate entities as the problem with marketin g, not the solution. To me, the people who will determine the future of marketing on the Internet are the small independents. They are the ones who will provide the high-quality content that people are looking for, they are the ones who will be the driving force behind the technological advances in marketing.

So, having said that, my participation in this debate is over. I see no point in continiuing this discussion. We are arguing from two different basic paradigms and neither of us will change any time soon. I wish Rok well preaching to the dinosaurs. And I will continue preaching to the ourtcasts. Only time will tell which of us is right.

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