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The John Botscharow Interview #11: Making People Jump Through Hoops Using E-mail?

Rok: Yes, asking someone to give you his e-mail address is making him jump through "some" hoops, but wouldn't you say that's sort of different? I mean, when you ask someone for their e-mail address, you're asking them for something they are already using every day. But when you ask them to totally switch their communicational system and habits (or just add to them) to communicate JUST with you and a great minority of publishers, isn't that something completely different? You're definitely not making it easy for people to contact you, even with legitimate communication ...

John: Rok, let me answer you by using an analogy: giving up smoking, something I have tried to do for years now but have never been able to do. Tobacco is an addiction, a very powerful one. For someone like me, who has been a two-pack-a-day smoker for well over 40 years, quitting is a very painful and difficult process. I know because I have gone through it several times in the last ten years.

I have lots of incentives to quit. I know it is bad for my health and bad for my kids' health to be around me because I smoke. The main reason I do not quit is because there is no viable alternative to smoking, nothing that satisfies my needs as does smoking. (For this discussion, what those needs are and whether they are real needs or needs created by my addiction are not relevant). Because I accept them as real, we will treat them as real.

When the anti-smoking movement started in earnest a number of years ago, very few smokers took the risks of smoking as real. They took the same attitude toward quitting smoking that your question is taking about quitting email. There were far more smokers in the world then there were non-smokers. Smoking was not being banned in public places. Matter of fact, any business that banned smoking tended to lose business, but these people were taking a stand and in the long run they are being hailed as pioneers rather than crackpots.

For a smoker like me, I resented having to go to places I used to love to visit, only to find that I was "not welcome" any more because I am a smoker. At first, I refused to go there any more, but, as more and more places joined in the ban against smoking, I came to realize I would have to make some adjustments. This became especially necessary when I became a father. My kids love going to McDonald's, but McDonald's is smoke-free. I am not the kind of father who would deprive his kids of the pleasure of going to McDonald's just because I can't smoke in the restaurant.

Yes, today there are only a small number of web sites that are Q-enabled as opposed to those who still use email. But does that make them wrong? Not in my opinion. I see myself and the others analagous to those businesses who were among the first to ban smoking.

Email is dangerous! You can argue that if you wish, but there is so much hard evidence to support my claim, you'd lose that argument. The number of virus attacks is on the increase, not decrease. These viruses are spread mostly via email. So are the trojans that are used to create the denial of service attacks that have shut down so many vital servers. So are the worms that attack and try to control our computers. So is the pornography that so many people find extremely objectionable. So are the millions of spam messages sent every day.

If every person who truly wanted to put an end to all that quit using email and switched to direct-to-desktop messaging, QMTP, for instance, all this crap would stop in a reasonable amount of time. And the argument that the average person online is afraid to try something new is a bunch of crap. Every time Windows comes out with an upgrade, the vast majority of Windows users run out to get it. Or every time there is a newer version of your favorite program, don't you try to get it as soon as possible?

To use an even more powerful analogy, although it is not about something online: don't we all wish we could afford a brand new car with all the comforts and gadgets? People want the latest technology and QMTP offers that. We who promote it just have to do a better job of convincing people of that fact.

But the main reason I use and promote QMTP is that it is the safest way to communicate one-on-one. And direct-to-desktop publishing using Q is the safest, easiest and most effective way to communicate one-to-many. Remember, marketing is communication and you want to do it in a way that is safe and effective. For me, that means Q.

The problem in getting people to see the real value in switching from email to Q is that all of us who do business online are email addicts. Some of us have seen the truth of that and are now in recovery. The rest are in denial. For more in-depth discussion of email addiction, see my articles here.

One more thing just occurred to me. Perhaps we do make it a bit harder to subscribe to out newsletters. One reason for that is we want to make sure that the people who subscribe to our newsletters are really interested in what we have to offer. We want readers not just bodies on a list. Email marketers are only interested in how many email addresses they can collect, not in whether these people are really interested in what the publisher has to offer. By making it so easy to sign up for an email newsletter, you are encouraging a lot of the bad behavior that has tainted the value of email newsletters.

Talking about hoops, email publishers tend to have a tendency to make it hard for people to unsubscribe. Is that because they know how little they are doing to keep their readers? To unsubscribe from any kind of RSS feed, Q or otherwise, all it takes is one click in your RSS reader to delete the feed.

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