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The John Botscharow Interview #5: The E-mail Customization Myth In-Depth

Rok: Why a myth? For instance, at the business daily Finance (I'm the internet manager there) we publish approximately 80 articles per day. But, if you're only interested in what a specific author writes or are interested only in articles on a specific topic or company, you can customize e-mail delivery (and web site content as well) to only get an e-mail notification when the article that suits your preferences is published. It's not push, because our users need to turn this service on, if they want to use it, and they can turn it off whenever they like to.

John: Rok, you are talking about an enterprise business, which has programming and financial resources that the publishers I target just do not have. With those kinds of resources, almost anything is possible. But these type of publications, in terms of the total number of publishers online, represent a small minority. The majority of people who already are or who want to publish online are very small operations - what we in the USA call mom-and-pop operations. Some have a real office, but a lot of them work from home.

I suspect you will shrug then off because you will equate them with those people doing what is euphemistically called "network marketing." These publishers are a part of who I target, but only a part. There are many of these mom-and-operations who would benefit greatly from direct-to-desktop marketing and publishing.

But, for many reasons, including but not limited to, the negatives about email, they avoid the Internet like the plague. They are afraid of the "evils" of the Internet. They feel they do not have the skills to take their businesses online.

And, if we are talking about email marketing, then they should be afraid. But email marketing is not the only delivery option. And using RSS does not require a lot of skills these people do not already have, if they use a system like Quikonnex.

As far as reading whatever content they want, my readers already have that option. As I said earlier, all of the articles I post in my channels are categorized. You only need to click the link in the categories menu that you want. If that is not enough specialization, you can use the search option to search all my articles by key words.

The advantage of doing it that way over what you are doing at Finance is that all the programming is already there for you. There is no additional expense involved. There is also no special skills needed, other than the ability to create a category name and decide which category is most appropriate for any given article.

All of these are well within the abilities and resources of a mom-and-pop business.

To me, it is these mom-and-pop businesses, not enterprises like Finance, that have the most to gain from taking their businesses online. They will have access to new markets and new ideas. IMHO, it is these mom-and-pop businesses, working from home, that will shape our economy in the years to come. As I have said in another context, the Internet is the greatest tool for freedom in human history. It has the potential to be the greatest tool for economic freedom as well, if we use it for that.

But we need to fight to keep the Internet from being dominated by the big corporations of the world. Whether you see it as such, or anyone else reading this sees it, the battle over spam was not about individual protection or any of the other hype used to justify all the so-called anti-spam measures. It was over who would control email, and most especially email advertising. All the anti-spam movement has done is give the big corporations control over email. They wanted to remove the one tool which they thought was allowing the small mom-and-pop businesses to viably compete in the marketplace.

Every anti-spam measure I have seen put in place in the last five years have done nothing to stop spam - the real spam. All it has done is drive away existing mom-and-pop competition and keep new mom-and-pop business from coming online.

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