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Welcome Committee: From Russia with Love

During last New Year’s Eve celebration our friend Erica organized games to fill the time between dinner and midnight.  One of the games involved an exchange of redundant objects.  We had to bring something that we do not need.  Others did the same.  At the end of the evening we all got rid of our old object and went home with an old object from someone else.  Somebody brought an energy efficient spaghetti cooker and we inherited it.  The mode of operation is simple:  put spaghetti in the tall tube; add boiling water; cover with the “heat retaining” lid; wait for the spaghetti to cook; drain; serve.  After three attempts, I understood why the other person wanted to get rid of that object: it does not work.  But we found a better use to it.  Our son has been asking for an aquarium like the one his grandfather has.  We decided to start him on a low maintenance Siamese fighting fish, commercially known as Betta fish in North America.  The acrylic transparent tube makes it for a perfect fish tank.  His new friend was greeted by a welcome committee.  From Russia with Love, Miss Moneypenny?



Tux Lawyer

Last week I interviewed for a summer student position at a local law firm.  I was surprised when the interviewers gave me their business cards on … Tux!  Despite the friendly presence of the Linux mascot, I did not get a law summer job.  The search continues…



Feedback to a B2B email marketer

A few weeks ago I was tasked with the evaluation of a service for a business.  The service is a fairly recent kind of technical service that my client needed. The specific service I am writing about is provided by a large, public corporation.  I will keep the kind of service and the specific tool being evaluated anonymous because I don’t want to offend specific sensibilities and because the following advice is general for all B2B marketers.  As is often the case with B2B services, the corporation’s website offered a limited free trial in exchange for contact information.  I filled in my contact details (well, my email address. I don’t like to be interrupted so I do not volunteer phone or physical addresses at this point), and went about the free trial.  The trial proved conclusive and in my report to my client contrasting the different competing services I specifically recommended this one.  My assignment was over and I went back to my current full time occupation as a law student.

Today I received a promotional email from that corporation.  It was obviously related to the service I have test-driven and as such I expected this marketing email as part of the bargain: test drive the service in exchange for the contact information and the permission to send promotional emails.  However, when I saw this specific email, I immediately went for the jugular and hit the unsubscribe link, effectively withdrawing that permission.  The corporation has killed what could have become an ongoing conversation.  Here is why, an excerpt from my email to the responsible marketing manager:

(1) Give me an option to subscribe to plain TEXT messages.  HTML is not welcome here.  If the choice is between HTML mail or no mail, I will rather choose no mail.

(2) There are many reasons for my preference not to receive HTML mails.  The most important is that I do not like my every step to be tracked.  It is even more horrifying to me how the tracking is implemented in this specific email message.  Why do you put my name, email, company, phone, and title in the tracking URL?  If I wanted this obscure third-party outfit hiding behind the domain name [REDACTED] to know my contact information, I would have volunteered it myself.  I find the way tracking is implemented in this email inconsiderate and leading to spam.

(3) Another reason to prefer TEXT over HTML is bandwidth.  You can’t know, when sending out the email, if I am reading it on cheap wired bandwidth or on extremely expensive roaming cellular bandwidth or anything in between.  Please be respectful of my bandwidth and limit your messages’ weight — trim away the fat that is HTML and deliver substance only.

(4) And another reason to prefer TEXT over HTML is speed-reading.  It is scientifically measured that a user reading all emails in the same font and on the same background reads faster and absorbs more substance than a user faced with formatting choices of the sender.  There is a certain degree of personal preference here, but it is also scientifically measured that some fonts are more readable than others, specifically fixed width fonts.  Save the cost of having your email styled, it is a waste of your resources as well as of reader’s time.

(5) Last but not least, with a count of over 30 URLs and zero sentences, what you have dumped on me is information overload.  Don’t expect any response to that.  The more quantity is crammed into a single message, the less relevant it becomes.  At some point the threshold of spam is reached.  This is what happened in this case, both technically (my email service provider’s spam filter was triggered) and humanly: there was no value to me in an email that is only a list of badly obfuscated links. Hence I unsubscribed.

I hope this feedback is helpful to you in structuring your future marketing activities.  As far as I am concerned, I am unsubscribed from this particular B2B marketer’s emails.  He has killed the conversation.  I am still of the opinion that the corporation’s service is competitive, and I will still recommend it to other clients with similar needs.  But there was no value added whatsoever by the B2B marketer and he or she should be worried if the CEO finds out.  Add value or be trimmed!