Be on the wave or under it
The News – 02/28/03
Falsely Rejected Spam Irks Marketers
Recently, America Online announced
that its proprietary spam filtering system is blocking an astounding
780 million spam emails a day – an estimated 22 email messages
per day per user. That’s a whole lot of marketing messages that
will never reach their targets.
Many legitimate, opt-in marketers are complaining about the
AOL spam-reporting system because it allows a user to register
a spam complaint by clicking a “Report Spam” button. AOL members
are doing this up to 4.1 million times a day. Some marketers
figure that many of these spam reports flag email messages that
the users actually requested.
It’s common in the permission marketing business to have users
complain that they never requested an email. I know one marketer,
for example, who took a call from an irate man who demanded
to know where the marketer had gotten his email address from.
The marketer promised to find out, and later faxed the man the
form that the man had used to sign up for the newsletter in
question. Ultimately, the marketer did get an email from the
complainer apologizing, and saying it had slipped his mind.
And he eventually even sold the guy some products.
So some AOL users may just forget that they have given their
permission to be marketed to. And others could just be too lazy
to unsubscribe in the normal way. Push the spam button, and
the problem goes away. This just underscores a truism about
email marketing: If the recipient thinks your message is spam,
it is, regardless of what you think.
Of course, these are just some of the problems legitimate permission-based
marketers must face. Another problem is ineffective spam filters.
to Assurance Systems, ISP spam filters block an average of 15
percent of legitimate email marketing messages because those
messages fit their spam profiles. I have this same problem with
this newsletter. Several times when I’ve sent it out, my own
email provider, who runs Spam Assassin, which tags, but does
not delete spam, has identified it as spam.
The highest block rates the Assurance Systems found in their
latest quarterly study are:
It’s no surprise that all these false rejections can actually
interfere with communications that are desired by users.
I recently started an email list for a networking group I belong
to. I got a couple of emailed complaints from one member who
said he wasn’t getting the list messages. I had signed him up
twice before we finally figured out that MSN (Microsoft Network
– you know, the stinking butterfly) was thoughtfully deleting
the “Welcome to the list” message – which he needed to reply
to in order to get on the list. He had to put the list email
address on his “white list” and I had to sign him up a third
time before he could finally join. I wasted an hour or so of
my time, and more of his. Now multiply that little support drama
by thousands or millions, and just think of the lost productivity!
It’s a really sad fact that most spam filters typically assign
lots of spam points to several ordinary and considerate email
techniques, such as including an unsubscribe line or stating
why a user is getting the message (“You are receiving this email
because you signed up for it.”) Check out the Spam Assassin
sometime and you’ll marvel that anyone ever gets any unfiltered
Unfortunately, it will probably take the heavy hand of the
law to make a real dent in spam, but I’m not going to hold my
breath. In a welcome ruling against spammer MonsterHut, Manhattan
Supreme Court Justice Lottie E. Wilkins permanently enjoined
MonsterHut from misrepresenting their email marketing lists
as “opt-in.” (Interestingly, MonsterHut has moved on, abandoning
their Web site. If you go there
now, you see a list of places to find anti-spam software.) I
guess rulings like this are a start, but since spam comes from
all over the world, it would take a monstrous, coordinated,
worldwide legal effort to rid the world of this scourge. So
don’t you hold your breath, either.
- Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: Last
issue I debuted SNS Begware, an opportunity for you, gentle
reader, to express your appreciation by tipping your server
via PayPal. See the sidebar for more info. Total in the kitty
so far: $0.00.
I’ve reworked the Opinion
section, adding a Prediction
Tracking page to track the various predictions I’ve made,
and also added a Stuff
I Said page with some quotes of things I said a decade
or so ago on the Net.
I repurposed and adapted an article about the wireless service
known as Short Messaging Service (SMS) for the Reside newsletter.
It’s entitled, Wherever
they go, there you are and it points out how marketers
can use – carefully – this new way to contact their customers.
I’m featured in Manyworlds’ Thought
Leader Showcase, which lists a few of the white papers
I’ve done. I’ve also added their fancy icon to the StratVantage
Finally, the CTOMentor wireless white paper, You Can Take
It with You: Business Applications of Personal Wireless Devices,
is available at ITPapers.
- StratVantage Possible Takeover Target:
Wow! You know you’ve really arrived when the M&A sharks
are nipping around your ankles. Recently, a provocative email
arrived at StratVantage Central:
Enclosed please find an announcement
for a transaction recently completed by Kenan Aksoz of Aksoz
Due to the low interest rates and
our extensive work in the industry, we have several buyers who
are interested in acquiring a company like Stratvantage Consulting
[ . . .] If you have considered divesting
part or all of your interest in Stratvantage Consulting LLC.
and would like to confidentially discuss the options available
along with the market value of your company, please call Kenan
Aksoz . . .
that! Several buyers are interested in my company! Well, they
won’t get it without a fight! I’ll adopt a poison
pill, or even a dead
hand poison pill, and fight to the end!
- Rack Up Another Prediction Win:
In a previous
SNS, in the TrendSpot,
and in articles for the TaylorHarkins
newsletters, I predicted that increased Instant Messaging interoperability
among cell phone carriers and Internet providers would finally
boost US IM usage significantly. According to the Cellular Telecommunications
& Internet Association, US users sent 1 billion text messages
last June, up from a measly 30 million in June 2001 and matching
the number of IMs Europeans sent in December 2001. Is this a
great country, or what?
- Be Careful Responding to Job Postings:
I recently got a notice from Monster.com about a practice that
is increasing: using false job postings to illegally collect
personal information from unsuspecting job seekers. I’d heard
about this before, but Monster is alarmed enough about the practice
to send out a warning. They offer these tips for Internet job
give your social security number, even if they suggest
that it is for a "routine background check."
not provide credit card or bank numbers, or engage in
any monetary transactions.
- Do not provide any non-work
related personal information (i.e. social security number,
eye color, marital status etc.) over the phone or online.
- Be cautious when dealing
with contacts outside of your own country.
- Read the article, "Protect
Your Personal Info"here: resume.monster.com/dosanddonts/personalinfo/
One final, humorous note: The warning was signed, Heather Abbey, Monster
Seeker Support. Does she seek monsters, or is she a monstrous
seeker? Either way, her mother must be so proud!
- Good Gilder Questions: In a recent
issue of futurist George Gilder’s Friday newsletter, he asks
some good questions that perhaps your company should be asking
in this time of economic malaise:
How many opportunities has your company
bypassed, clearing the way for more nimble, entrepreneurial
companies to cash in on the next wave of industry growth?
Has excessive customer focus prevented
your company from creating new markets and finding new customers?
Many great companies have focused intensely on customer need,
and invested aggressively in new technologies, and still lost
market leadership when confronted with disruptive changes in
technology. When is it right not to listen to your customers?
When is it right to invest in developing
How can you recognize and profit from
new and emerging markets?
How will you spot the next breakthrough
innovation that threatens your business?
Of course, Gilder is hyping his Storewidth
conference as a way to answer these questions, but they’re good
- Microsoft P2P SDK Beta: As mentioned
in the last
SNS, Microsoft has released its a beta of its Windows XP Peer-to-Peer
Software Development Kit (SDK), further legitimizing the P2P
marketplace that has been significantly boosted by IBM’s billion
in P2P technology and services. The SDK also includes improved
support for the next generation Internet protocol, IPv6 (see
for more info). You can find out more about the P2P market by
reading my white papers on the subject (here
or visiting the P2P4B2B
Return to Mike’s
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About The Author
a New Service from StratVantage
Can’t Get Enough of ME?
In the unlikely event
that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable
thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped
collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web
page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do,
you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows
you FTP access, and the free software from www.blogger.com.
This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts
to your Weblog.
I’ve dubbed my Weblog
entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at www.stratvantage.com/stratlets/.
Let me know what you think.
Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of
the latest emerging trends.
14, 1928 - July 5, 2003
Jane C. Ellsworth
20, 1928 - July 20, 2003