Schwedelson’s Vision Not Shared

When I opened a recent issue of your publication and read Jay Schwedelson’s E-Mail Marketing column “The Time Has Come for Push E-Mail,” I was astounded to say the least.

It’s back to the future, but no future that interactive marketers or consumers want.

Jay diminished his credibility as an authority on e-mail marketing – a reputation he has built carefully through a dogged determination to present facts repeatedly based on 1999 data. As someone who has listened to Jay address novice user groups on numerous occasions and also has read his musings in this and other publications, I am astounded that he has stepped back even further – to the era of Pointcast – to divine the future of e-mail.

Pointcast was a failure, remember?

It wasn’t ahead of its time. It just didn’t work for customers or the companies whose data networks were swamped by its meaningless traffic.

E-mail “push” as he envisions it would be disastrous for users and marketers for many reasons. First, it just plain doesn’t work technically the way he perceives it. Subject lines are bound to the topic set at send. Open rates are often measured against those subject lines. User preferences change. Not all people read mail on the same e-mail client every day, and those clients have different presentation schemes. Users do not delete all their messages, so older messages end up all the way at the bottom, archived for some future use, but far below the fold. Yahoo and Hotmail have storage quotas. Hard

drives crash. Things are deleted, unsubscribed and subscribed over and over again. That’s normal.

What’s wrong with transmitting e-mail?

How else do users receive reminders or notifications of important news?

The reason people open their e-mail program is to see what is new. Having to click constantly on an old message to see whether it’s been updated is what makes the Web inferior to e-mail. You have to keep visiting Yahoo to get updated news, but e-mail can deliver it to you. That’s what people sign up for every day.

Who would pay for the charges of hosting this content? How would delivery be measured – on open?

How would bounces and dead accounts be defined?

Don’t feel sorry for the ISPs. E-mail is the reason why most people are on the Internet, and it is the first thing they check (96 percent, according to Forrester and others). They are looking for the catchy subject line and personalization of the message. They are not asking to click on the same message. They are asking for relevant, compelling content.

E-mail is already the best push technology there is. It’s mildly interruptive and up to date. It’s relevant, and most vendors can use URLs or other means to present dynamic content. Some vendors can even change content after a message has been sent.

If Jay is interested in push and in bookmarks, have him spend more time lecturing on the World Wide Web. If he is interested in messages that advertise the freshness of their data by the time and the subject line, have him rely on e-mail.

Dave Hendricks, executive vice president, CheetahMail Inc.

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