Anne Holland

Gmail Watch Week 5: UPDATED

June 17th, 2004

Nothing tells Gmail users they’ve got email in their spam folders. Okay, this isn’t news — we reported in the June 3 MarketingSherpa (link below) — but nobody else seems to be as bothered about it as we are, so we’re going to repeat it here:

If you get an email that (rightly or wrongly) Gmail’s filters determine is spam, it goes to a spam folder. Unlike most other Web email systems, though, the interface doesn’t indicate you have messages in the spam folder or how many, the way Yahoo! (its main competitor so far) does.

Yahoo! recently took away the last incentives that would force a user to at least go into and clear the spam folder when it decided not to count spam email against the user’s total storage capacity and then boosted free users to 100MB. And, it clears out any spam and trash the user hasn’t already dumped, so email that gets routed to the spam folder will likely die unnoticed, and you won’t even get a bounce notice (until the user abandons the mailbox).

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

MarketingSherpa RSS Feed Launches (Plus, How to Add Our Headlines to Your Site)

June 17th, 2004

Thanks entirely to your ceaseless nudging emails (you all know who you are), I asked our Web Tech Christian Vanek to switch priorities this week to bring you an RSS-feed.

If you don’t know what an RSS-feed is, please keep reading…. However if you’re one of the RSS-cognoscenti, and you’d like to add our feed to your reader, here’s the XML URL you should cut and paste:

http://www.marketingsherpa.com/rss/msherpa_rss.rss

For RSS-newbies: if you click on the link above, all you’ll see is a blank screen. To make it work, you need to install a reader on your computer. It’s quick, it’s easy, and many readers are entirely complimentary.

There are close to 100 readers out there (which I find a little confusing.) Three of my favorites are at:

http://www.pluck.com

http://www.newsgator.com

http://reader.rocketinfo.com/desktop/

When you have a reader, it means every time you see a little “XML” or “RSS” or “Syndic8″ icon on a blog or news site you like, you can click on it and thereafter have that site’s hotlinked headlines sent automatically to a special reader in-box on your computer. Plus, there’s no junk email (yet anyway.)

You can also use handy tools to add RSS feeds to appear on your own Web site or intranet. So, you could add our headlines to your site very easily. One place that helps with that is http://www.feedroll.com

If you’d like more info about RSS in general and/or to see some screenshots what readers look like, you can check out the handy article our MarketingSherpa Editor wrote earlier this year:

http://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=2606

(Open access)

Thanks for your support (and your nudges.)

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

Gmail Watch Week 5: AdSense Users Get Invites

June 17th, 2004
Latest Gmail developments and concerns:

– Google has now invited its AdSense advertisers to try Gmail. That“s an additional minimum 60K more users into the system, which is still invitation-only, but indicates the company continues to expand the testing-user base slowly but surely. We just got our next round of invitations to hand out. Anybody want one?

– Google“s obviously not deduping its database to weed out people who get sent more than one invitation.

MarketingSherpa Publisher Anne Holland already has a Gmail account but just got invited by someone else to open one. “That“s dumb,” she said.

Another glitch: If you remember your user name but forget your password, Gmail can help you. If you forget your user name, you are SOL.

Now, combine that with a 9-month lifespan for dormant accounts, and you could be emailing to a dead account (but a live address) for 9 months.

There is a workaround — Gmail automatically puts the email address of everyone who accepts your invitations into your contact list (along with everyone to whom you“ve sent email from your Gmail address. That“s a bonus for whitelisting). So you just have to track down the person who sent you an invite to see what address they have for you. Not that Gmail will tell you.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

AOL Whitelisting Change (the real story)

June 16th, 2004

AOL announced earlier this month that bulk senders who want to stay on its whitelist would have to start using a program called SPF (for Sender Policy Framework) to authenticate the email they send.

(If you’re not the email tech guru at your company, you should know that SPF is, at its most basic, a line of code that gets published in your Domain Name Server information. ISPs can look up that code to verify that you really are who you say you are and not a spoofer, phisher or forger who doesn’t have authority to use that email address.)

Industry publications began reporting that as an edict from AOL that bulk senders should start publishing their SPF records now or else get booted off the whitelist.

We asked AOL for the straight story. Here’s what Carl Hutzler, AOL’s anti-spam director told us:

“We are asking people already on our whitelist (and newcomers) to set-up SPF records to simply help the ‘management’ of the IP based whitelist. It has nothing to do with qualifying a person to be on our whitelist or negatively affecting their mail if they do not have SPF.

“SPF simply is a way to publish outbound mail server IP addresses, which is exactly what AOL needs to whitelist someone. Instead of a whitelisted organization having to update AOL every time an IP address changes (server gets shut down, returned on lease, etc.), if the organization uses SPF, they can maintain their own list of legit servers and AOL can query their SPF DNS record to get any updates (perhaps once a day or so).

“We do not have a timeframe for AOL to implement SPF on our inbound systems yet. End of summer is what we are targeting. But this has almost nothing to do with the whitelisting feature. We aim to begin using SPF in our whitelist update processes in the next month or so.”

You can get more information at AOL’s Postmaster page.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

Another Spam-Folder 'Whoops!'

June 15th, 2004

If even the anti-spammers can’t get their messages delivered to the right folder, what hope do the rest of us have?

Josh Carlson of InsuranceJournal.com sent us the following snippet after he got a cold call from Habeas, the haiku email-whitelisting service.

It was your typical sales call — sales rep tries to counter prospect’s utility and price objections — but the rep didn’t give up. She offered to email more information, which Josh agreed to accept. So far, so routine.

“Her email arrived a couple minutes later, landing in my spam box,” Josh said.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

Yahoo! Raises Email Stakes UPDATED

June 15th, 2004

Raquel Hirsch is one happy Yahoo! Mail Plus customer today, because she and every other paying Mail Plus customer saw email storage capacity shoot up to 2GB, as Yahoo! said it would do over a month ago.

Freebie users also got a boost in storage capacity, from 4MB to 100 MB. Not close to Gmail’s vaunted 1GB of space, but enough to keep Yahoo! addresses from turning sour in your database quite as fast due to overcapacity.

“Wow! I never have to delete an email again!” Raquel told us. “Is this a good thing???”

Yahoo is betting that it is with an array of special features that appear geared toward keeping their Mail Plus customers, who paid $20 and up a year for premium service, from fleeing to Gmail.

Other bennies for Mail Plus customers:

– No more skyscraper ads crowding the inbox. Between the left-hand menu and the right-hand ads, the email got squeezed.

– A cleaned-up interface that’s a little easier to navigate (not that there was any real problem with the old one).

– One price: $19.99. Previously, Mail Plus users had to pay more to get more storage (50MB and up).

– Email search (another Gmail benefit).

Mail Plus customers already had more storage and a larger message size than free-mail users. They can send and receive email from any POP3 email address and their outbound messages don’t carry the viral Yahoo! ads.

At least one catch has emerged for people who want to sign up for Yahoo!’s expanded free service, though.

Chris Richardson of WebProNews said in an article today that after he signed up for a free account, he could not access his email unless he agreed to install Yahoo!’s companion toolbar.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

FTC Says No to DNE Registry (for now)

June 15th, 2004

A national Do Not Email registry that doesn’t authenticate email senders would not only fail to stop unsolicited commercial email but could even trigger more spam to consumers, the Federal Trade Commission said today in a mandated report to Congress.

“Without effective authentication of email,” the report said, “any registry is doomed to fail. With authentication, better CAN-SPAM Act enforcement and better filtering by ISPs may even make a registry unnecessary.”

Spammers, the FTC said, “would most likely use a registry as a mechanism for verifying the validity of email addresses and, without authentication, the commission would be largely powerless to identify those responsible for misusing the registry,” the commission warned.

The worst-case scenario comes with children’s email addresses. Although legitimate marketers could use the registry to keep from sending inappropriate mail to children, pedophiles, which the commission called “the Internet’s most dangerous users,” could use the same information to target children.

Instead, the FTC called for creating “widespread adoption” of email authentication standards that both government and ISPs could use to ID spammers.

The FTC would first allow private industry to come up with authentication standards, but if that didn’t happen, it said, the government could step in.

View the FTC’s report (in PDF) here.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

Yahoo! Raises Email Stakes UPDATED

June 15th, 2004
Raquel Hirsch is one happy Yahoo! Mail Plus customer today, because she and every other paying Mail Plus customer saw email storage capacity shoot up to 2GB, as Yahoo! said it would do over a month ago.

Freebie users also got a boost in storage capacity, from 4MB to 100 MB. Not close to Gmail“s vaunted 1GB of space, but enough to keep Yahoo! addresses from turning sour in your database quite as fast due to overcapacity.

“Wow! I never have to delete an email again!” Raquel told us. “Is this a good thing???”

Yahoo is betting that it is with an array of special features that appear geared toward keeping their Mail Plus customers, who paid $20 and up a year for premium service, from fleeing to Gmail.

Other bennies for Mail Plus customers:

– No more skyscraper ads crowding the inbox. Between the left-hand menu and the right-hand ads, the email got squeezed.

– A cleaned-up interface that“s a little easier to navigate (not that there was any real problem with the old one).

– One price: $19.99. Previously, Mail Plus users had to pay more to get more storage (50MB and up).

– Email search (another Gmail benefit).

Mail Plus customers already had more storage and a larger message size than free-mail users. They can send and receive email from any POP3 email address and their outbound messages don“t carry the viral Yahoo! ads.

At least one catch has emerged for people who want to sign up for Yahoo!“s expanded free service, though.

Chris Richardson of WebProNews said in an article today that after he signed up for a free account, he could not access his email unless he agreed to install Yahoo!“s companion toolbar.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

5,000 Email Newsletters? Not Quite

June 14th, 2004

Well, not exactly. But close.

The number of online newsletters published in the U.S. and Canada apparently doubled from 2003 to 2004, although it isn’t clear if the number really grew or if somebody just found more to count. And less than half of those are online-only.

Whatever — the 2004 edition of the Oxbridge Directory of Newsletters lists 4,949 online newsletters being published in the U.S. and Canada, up from 2,500 in 2003.

“Online” includes any electronic transmission, whether Web, email or fax. The directory counted 1,600 of the 4,949 as being available only electronically, while the remaining 3,309 are also in print format.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

Weekend vs Weekday Response Patterns

June 10th, 2004

“Our paid search click conversion rates go down nights and weekends,” Marc Katz, CO CustomInk, told me when I interviewed him for this week’s Case Study (story below.) “Click volume goes down, but the proportion of orders to clicks also goes down.”

Marc also told me he normally gets about 20% of orders from consumers calling the phone number displayed prominently on the site. Here too there are definitely weekend patterns. He gets so few calls on Saturdays that “we only staff the line for three hours.” But then “Sundays are busier, and as the day wears on the line gets busier and busier so by Sunday evening it’s almost like a normal weekday.” So, he staffs phones for eight carefully chosen hours on Sundays.

Why does this matter to you?

When I ask most marketers about how they adjust their pay per click ad spending and/or their inbound call center hours for weekends, they tell me either “We don’t” or “We just shut down on weekends entirely.”

Hardly anyone, aside from the most sophisticated eretailers and catalogers, tweaks weekend schedules based on actual demonstrated customer use patterns. And, being b-to-b is no excuse for cutting call centers willy nilly on Sundays. Some of Marc’s customers are businesses.

However, one word of advice — don’t cut any paid search ads due to lower weekend conversion rates unless your metrics package is tracking whether those surfers wind up converting later. You may be cutting off your nose to spite your face. Weekend surfers may be researching purchases they intend to make from work the following week.

Got an interesting data of your own to share? Lemme know. aholland@marketingsherpa.com

Link to Case Study about CustomInk:

http://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=2731

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: