The Time Has Come for Push E-Mail

Imagine you buy an issue of Time magazine this week and leave it on the coffee table after you read whatever interests you.

The next week you pick up that same issue off your coffee table, and all the stories, editorials and information have changed to the latest news once you open the magazine. This would go on indefinitely, until you toss the issue. This is not fiction, but a possible reality in the current e-mail environment.

The idea of personalized news and information delivered to your doorstep or inbox is what push e-mail technology is all about. Automated content delivery to your inbox, without the transmission of an actual e-mail message, is the solution to the exponential growth in the number of e-mail messages that need to be delivered.

The number of e-mail messages transmitted will rise. This problem is considered not only obvious, but inescapable. For all the time spent preparing for this escalation in the volume of e-mail, little time has been spent considering options to avoid this situation.

Think of that newspaper delivered to your doorstep as a form of push technology. When you want to read the paper, you open your door and grab the paper. Push technology came and went. The March 1997 edition of Wired magazine devoted its cover story to push technology: “Kiss Your Browser Good-bye.” Perhaps optimistic or ahead of its time, push technology never became rooted in the Internet user’s everyday online experience. At the time, e-mail was purely a text environment and did not represent a channel available to push technologies.

E-mail clients have evolved into an avenue that not only is viable, but uniquely suited for push technologies. An e-mail client is the software an individual uses to read and respond to e-mail messages. Outlook, Lotus Notes and Hotmail are all considered e-mail clients.

As we move ahead, all e-mail clients will be HTML-enabled. Everyone will be able to see graphics and clickable images inside an e-mail message. This plays the most critical role in the reduction of e-mails that need to be transmitted. Identical to how images are served on a Web site, images are served within an HTML e-mail message. Every time an individual opens an HTML e-mail message, images are pulled from a specific server somewhere.

Imagine this: You sign up on to receive the daily HTML e-mail newsletter. While signing up, the site informs you that you will not be receiving a daily e-mail message, but rather the initial e-mail newsletter you receive will update automatically at 7 p.m. nightly. To see the news of the day, simply reopen the original e-mail after 7 p.m. every day, and the new information will be served, or pushed, to you. Of course, if the e-mail was accidentally erased, the site would allow that user to sign up for the newsletter again.

This would reduce’s need to send e-mail by at least 75 percent.

Basically, the same way that Internet users use bookmarks for Web sites, they could use bookmarked e-mail updates. Instead of users looking for new messages in their inboxes, they would reopen messages based on when they are scheduled to update. Information would be delivered automatically on a scheduled basis, without requiring new e-mail messages to be sent. E-mail users could have folders marked “daily” for newsletters that updated every day. Or they could have a folder marked “weekly deals” for all the special offers they get that are refreshed weekly. The limitless possibilities create a new way to use your e-mail inboxes while reducing the number of messages received.

Changing the images or information served into an HTML message is as simple as changing an image on a Web site.

Information delivery with push technology follows a similar process, except that your inbox serves as your doorstep. When you open an HTML e-mail message, the newspaper delivery boy knows you are ready for the next delivery, and the information is delivered automatically.

Marketers are paying exorbitant rates to get e-mail messages delivered, Internet service providers are carrying the freight as the conduit for these messages and individuals are complaining about flooded inboxes. Push e-mail would drastically reduce the need to transmit e-mail. Catalogers, newsletter publishers, e-tailers or just about any other marketer that sends ongoing e-mail communications to its customers or subscribers would benefit.

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