Web/Tech

Ugly email in preview panes

MarketingSherpa talks about email today (only available through Aug 14, 2006):

SUMMARY

… if your readers use Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo, Mozilla Thunderbird (or a host of others), chances are your email templates need a redesign … as of yesterday. Why? Your email may look close to unreadable in more than 60% of their in-boxes.”

Aaahhh, those lovely html emails with beautiful images that don’t show up when images are blocked, or carefully layed out pages that don’t shrink to fit the preview pane. I can’t count the number I get from various advertisers of online products, office supplies, or software, that are like downloading a webpage that’s not set to fit in an email preview pane. Most of them just get boosted into the delete folder after they’re marked read.

The curious thing was that the email from Marketing Sherpa was set out in two columns – advertising and images on the left, and the content extending well past the right margin in my preview pane.

Hmm…well, it sounds like 74% of readers prefer their reading panes horizontal, under the message. I keep mine on vertical, on the right – 26% prefer that.

The article offers some help to deal with images and advertising. Worth a read if you get some time before the 14th.

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Marketing 2.0

I picked up a post from Jim McGee at Corante tonight that talks about how marketing is changing. It’s a good summary of some of the effects of ubiquitous computing and web 2.

    

The Elements of the New Marketing ReMix

   

The remix is from Place to Presence; from Promotion to Persuasion; from Positioning to Preference; from Price (static) to Price (dynamic); and from Product to Personalization.  These are the key elements of the new marketing remix.”

[update: I should have said that the clip above was from Sviokla’s Content.]

What really hit home for me was the discussion of promotion. It use to be in the marketer’s hands, but now, word of mouth marketing and the availabilty of online information is taking that power away.

I read somewhere once that doctors were having a time of it because patients come into the office only after researching their symptoms; and car dealers often knew less about the cars they sell than buyers coming onto the lot ( sorry, no links).

We live in interesting times.

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Truncated posts

Not to prolong the discussion about long vs short posts, but I bit the bullet last night and moved any short-post blogs to a separate folder. I may or may not keep up with them.

It won’t make a lot of difference, I guess. It’s just one reader leaving that got tired of having to bounce around to read someone’s thoughts every time the feed came up.

During a speed read through my feeds today, I did notice an interesting technique though, . It might be a compromise of sorts. The author (sorry, I forget who) provided a perspective with a link on something longer that they’d written. Somehow, once I’d read the ‘abstract’ and a sumary of his thoughts about the subject, I didn’t feel too bad about opening up a browser to read more. By that time I knew it could be worth more time and thought on my part.

I must find that blog again…..

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Communal wireless internet access?

Via SmallBizBlog we get the news from ITbusiness about a move to provide wireless access in Canadian cities. Bell Canada and Rogers Communication are working on such a deal right now.
 
That’s somewhat good news, I think. But the deal should be bigger and include other service providers too. Shaw and Telus come to mind in BC, for example.
 
What if all the access providers contributed a portion of our monthly fees to pay for sharing and maintaining the ‘pipes’, so to speak. We could choose a provider for service, price, logistics, or convenience at our main base, and from then on, have access to the internet. Period. The providers would have a chance then to win our hearts and business (hah).
 
I think the cell companies call it ‘roaming’. Overly expensive the way it works now, but it does work in a pinch. Certainly better than having a separate account for each and every location you might want to call from.
 
It’s fine for these large companies to set up additional proprietary networks, but if we want to really exploit the internet for all it’s worth, we can’t all be cloistered around our individual service providers for access. People move around to do business these days, and business and the internet are inextricably linked for most of us.
 
The ITbusiness article also notes a push for cities to provide free wireless access as a public utility. There’s been lots of arguing about this in the US as well. Free internet services may or may not be good idea, but somewhere, someone has to make enough money to keep the ‘pipes’ working. I’m not sure another tax (+GST) is the answer.
 
 
 
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Killing popups

Popup ads have to be the scourge of the internet. They interrupt our thinking, they break the flow of our actions, and, if we inadverently click on one, it wastes our time when we have to return to where we were. They steal our most valuable possessions: time and attention.

On a personal note, they also change my mood, and leave me with negative feelings about the original site I was on. Often, I won’t go back. But, I’m sure that’s nothing new.

I’ve even had the dern things popup occasionally while reading the Globe and Mail – under a paid subscription at that.

I sent the G&M a note and let them know how I felt one day. The response I got back was that they were sorry, but they have to generate revenue somehow. Guess my monthly fees don’t count in that equation. At least I know where I stand in the larger scheme of things.

Hmm..that reminds me. That G&M subscription is still active, and I haven’t been back for a couple of months. (note to self: cancel or give them one more chance)

Usually I make a mental note of the advertising company and how much they’ve pissed me off. That energy lasts for a while, but I probably forget about it over time. Perhaps there’s a better way.

Dan Gillmore has a short note about popup ads showing up in Firefox, and says:

“I’m going to create — and post — a list of the companies sponsoring these ads, and make a point of not shopping with them.”

Ya. A real list, not just a mental note. Writing things down tends to make them happen. Perhaps that’s a good reason for me to learn how to use del.icio.us , or to remember to tag some posts with ‘popup+spam’, or some other, more graphic term.

In the meantime I’ll start my list.

 
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Gadgets and glasses for boomers

Picked up an article in FutureWire that comments on a story from USA Today  .  It relates to something I’ve been thinking about over the last while (as I peer at my cell phone and pda through ever-stronger glasses each year). Here’s a clip of a clip that caught my eye:
“Deep social change can happen because cell phones are now in our pockets all the time. “We’re evolving from a world where the PC was the communications device to one where the cell phone or PDA is the center of gravity,” says Kim Polese, CEO of open-source software company SpikeSource. These gadgets will alter habits even more as they become the way people listen to music, get information, blog and pay for purchases at stores”

Yes, bring it on! I’m thirsting for the one device that will give me it all, at a reasonable price.

Still, is there an opportunity for some innovation here.  How about some sort of add-on for us oldsters that would simulate a larger viewing area on some of these gadgets. Perhaps an attachment for eyeglasses that provides a virtual screen?  As people age, their eyes aren’t what they use to be, and those small screens on cell phones and pdas become harder and harder to see. 

Remember, sooner or later all those young folks that are driving these trends will start getting older, and it sounds like the cohort behind them will be much smaller. We boomers are already there, and as much as we might like technology, all this miniaturization is starting to present some challenges.

But, that’s just my 2 cents for now. I may feel differently when I get stronger glasses next year.

 

Personal email from your local business??

I’ve shopped a lot at Staples in the past, because there is a local store that’s handy to the office and home. Recently I’ve started getting emails from them announcing store specials and savings.
 
Well, I thought that was great, but up until now I haven’t had a chance to click through the email links to the offers and see what was there.
 
I tried today. Sigh. What’s the first thing they want? My postal code! Sheesh, they don’t even know it’s me.
 
I would have thought that in this day and age it couldn’t be that difficult to target your ads a bit.  But I guess that escapes many marketers.
 
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So much, so fast, so well?…

Caught a Wired story via Ross Mayfield. It’s called “We are the web”, by Kevin Kelly .  Definitely worth a read!

The article provides an excellent history of the web, and some thoughts about what it means and where it’s going.  Here are a couple of quotes.

“How could we create so much, so fast, so well? In fewer than 4,000 days, we have encoded half a trillion versions of our collective story and put them in front of 1 billion people, or one-sixth of the world’s population. That remarkable achievement was not in anyone’s 10-year plan.”

Wow. What’s going to happen in the next 10 years with everyone creating and publishing their own content through blogs, ezines, ebooks, etc. Are we at some kind of tipping point? Or, will we approach one soon?

 The article has some interesting observations about that growth of content.

Later, Kelly talks about the future in an ‘all connected’ world and says:

“What will most surprise us is how dependent we will be on what the Machine knows – about us and about what we want to know. We already find it easier to Google something a second or third time rather than remember it ourselves.”

This touches on something that crossed my mind a couple of days ago. I’m already starting to google for sites, rather than use my bookmarks. I was also thinking about all the content I’ve collected and carefully stored on my hard drive – and never looked at again (but I might someday, right?). Couldn’t I just use one of the search engines to locate most of it again online. Do I really need 120GB of storage on my hard drive? Sure, engines like Copernic can help me sort through the stuff I’ve collected, but at some point I’ll have to archive and store it somewhere. Unneeded duplication?

I have to admit that I’m more comfortable having my ‘most important stuff’ on a personal machine for now. But I’m thinking hard about it. Is yesterday’s news worth the cost? At what point will I trust the infrastructure enough and believe it will be there when I need it?

 
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Prepared minds. I like that.

I love finding insightful articles. There is one today  From Knowledge Jolt with Jack on how breakthroughs happen .
 
Jack offers a review of Andrew Hargadon’s How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate , and this excerpt really hit home (clipped; bolding mine).
“Hargadon spends the first half of the book… to explain his thesis that breakthroughs happen via networks.  The biggest aspect of this is getting “prepared minds” to interact the right way to develop the next breakthrough.”
Prepared minds. I like that.
 
If you’re participating in the world around you and open to ideas, it’s amazing how things start to link up. If you live and work in a silo, it will never happen. Focus too much for too long and all that results is the same old, same old.
 
Blogs are good for preparing minds. So are all the various opportunities in every community to meet and interact with the people around you. Share what you can. Be interested. It will come back to you in spades.
 
At least that’s what I’m finding.
 
 
 
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Offers to change internet connections? Dontwannathinkaboutit.

I just got a call from Telus. Apparently they have a special deal for new high-speed internet subscribers and they offered it just to me. All I had to do was change over to @telus.
 
It was one of those calls that ring, and when you answer it, there is a dead space for a few seconds until someone on the other end realizes that you’ve answered the phone…you know what I mean?
 
Once I heard the initial pitch, I said that I had too much invested in the email address I have with my current provider. I didn’t want to change just now, but thanks for the offer.
 
Not to be put off by that lame excuse, the caller responded that if I change service now, I get free notification of up to 10 family members about my new email address. And as an aside she asked, “what do you use the internet for now?”  Like what’s the problem, eh? How much of an issue should it be?
 
I’m afraid I let her have it:
“personal email, banking, newsgroups, blogging, RSS feeds, newsletters, business contacts, purchasing software and books, browsing the news and technology sites, finding out about personal and business events, taking courses, looking for work, distributing work….I probably have my address in a thousand places and I’m just not prepared to change my coordinates for all of that right now, thank you very much”.
 
I’m calmer now and a bit embarassed.
 
I’m not really concerned about the marketing by Telus.  It’s good to know that there is some competition out there.  However, it’s scary just thinking about all the connections to one email address. I really should get a domain and a permanent address. My last change was 3 or 4 years ago, from @rogers to @shaw, and that was painful enough. I’ve got much more tied up in it now. I’ve got an @gmail address just recently, but that’s not going to cut it for business purposes.
 
Note to self: look into a domain.
 
 
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