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Finishing the First Round

This is a response to John's last and final article regarding the "Death of e-Mail Debate".

It seems John has had enough of our little battle and to tell you the truth, in a way, I've had enough as well ... just probably not in a manner you would expect. But more on that in the next article ...

Anyway, I hope that John still changes his mind and contributes to the debate again, especially because of the changes it's facing.

And now to my responses to John's article ...

"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."

Actually, the title of that article was changed by the editor. I agreed with the change, but I however do not think that RSS will save e-mail. It is simply not designed to do so --- but it definitely will add to the content delivery mechanics in many ways most cannot imagine today.

I'm sorry if my articles sounded as if I am again RSS, because I'm not. If I were than I wouldn't be publishing in RSS, would I?

But more on this in some of the future articles ...

"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."

I wouldn't agree with John's statements here.

1) I am not looking at the kind of e-mail marketing done by large corporations. The e-mail marketing I'm talking about is being conducted here, in Slovenia, all the time, some even by me.

I don't think this is a "corporation VS entrepreneur" issue. It is however a content delivery and communicational issue and as such it touches everyone marketing in the modern world.

Yes, e-mail has some problems, but no business can turn away from it without risking powerful content delivery, communication and marketing disadvantages. E-mail simply is one of the most important media of the present.

E-mail in itself is not bad, but unfortunately most of its uses are, due to irresponsible and uneducated marketing. That however does not mean that e-mail is bad.

2) WebProNews actually, contrary to what John is saying, has no problem with RSS, which you can see for yourself if you browse their web site and their educational articles on RSS.

"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."

I disagree. Many of the e-mail deployment service providers offer advanced e-mail capabilities, but they of course do come at a small fee.

It all comes down to what you are ready to invest in your business. Every small business running a profitable operation can afford some of the better e-mail systems tailored to small publishers.

The problem is that most small publishers really don't want to spend any money on such services, at least not in the US. In the end we'll all have to realize that making something requires investing something. And yes, I have to realize that as well ...

Furthermore, when I talk of personalization I do not mean only personalization by name, but other advanced things we can do with e-mail today, such as choosing what content we wish to receive from a publisher (this is more of a customization issue, but still), etc.

What I'm talking about is making use of one of the most important benefits the Internet has to offer --- tailoring the information feed to our own needs ... and the publishers' capability to personalize communication in such a way that it becomes more effective marketing wise.

"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."

John definitely got this right. Content is still king, as is sending your content (and receiving) only to people that want it. In the end the only real benefit we can provide to our subscribers as publishers is the content we offer them ...

But, if you want to see how personalization really works for the benefit of the subscriber, go to and subscribe to their newsletter ...

"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."

Again I disagree.You do not need very expensive technology for advanced personalization. In effect that is the least of your worries.

It's far more difficult preparing the various pieces of content for personalization and making personalization actually work than it is getting the technology puzzle together ...

"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."

This is probably one of the largest points of difference between me and John ... and probably the reason why we shouldn't have started this debate in the first place.

I focus (my content and everything I do) on the small and mid-sized businesses, but not on the home-based businesses and people trying to make a living on the Internet.

John on the other hand focuses on home-based business and helping individuals succeed.

From my point of view both of our approaches are valid, but we each focus on our different target audiences.

Perhaps the terminology above is wrong and it might be better saying that I focus on groups of people building a company and John focuses on individuals trying to better their lives through the Internet and trying to build small individual home businesses to quit their jobs.

Again, both of our approaches are valid, but they are respectively targeted at the people we serve.

John, please correct me if I'm wrong ...

"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."

I do agree.

"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."

This issue perhaps even better paints the differences between our target audiences.

When I speak of e-mail publishing and marketing I think about all the target audiences a company should focus on, including your employees, business partners, sales reps, etc.

When you communicate with these you naturally do not want everyone to see your communication. You want to send your messages only to the people that qualify.

For instance, a company I'm consulting in Slovenia uses different e-zines to separately communicate with their prospects, customers and sales reps.

John on the other hand is speaking only about mass e-mail communications targeted mostly at a company's prospects and customers.

On the other hand I do admit to giving RSS and its future development less credit than it deserves. You see, during this debate I perhaps took a wrong approach and mixed together content warehousing and content delivery. RSS is only the medium of delivery, what we do with the content in order to deliver it in a targeted manner we must do before actually delivering it --- RSS is not a part of that puzzle ...

More on this in some of the future articles ...

"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 wouldn't agree with this statement, but that's not the actual point here. I am not writing about the future of marketing in a general sense, but about what companies can do to better market themselves.

"So, having said that, my participation in this debate is over. I see no point in continuing 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."

John, thank you for participating in the debate. I do hope you will take the time to read some of the forthcoming articles and will yet decide to partake in the debate again.

I wish you all the success.

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