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Be on the wave or under it™

The News – 02/28/03

In this Issue:

Recommended Reading

I realize this is the only newsletter you’ll ever need, but if you want more in-depth detail, check out:

Stan Hustad’s
The Coaching Connection

Management Signature's
The Express Read

Falsely Rejected Spam Irks Marketers

Recently, America Online announced that its proprietary spam filtering system is blocking an astounding 780 million spam emails a day – an estimated 22 email messages per day per user. That’s a whole lot of marketing messages that will never reach their targets.

Many legitimate, opt-in marketers are complaining about the AOL spam-reporting system because it allows a user to register a spam complaint by clicking a “Report Spam” button. AOL members are doing this up to 4.1 million times a day. Some marketers figure that many of these spam reports flag email messages that the users actually requested.

It’s common in the permission marketing business to have users complain that they never requested an email. I know one marketer, for example, who took a call from an irate man who demanded to know where the marketer had gotten his email address from. The marketer promised to find out, and later faxed the man the form that the man had used to sign up for the newsletter in question. Ultimately, the marketer did get an email from the complainer apologizing, and saying it had slipped his mind. And he eventually even sold the guy some products.

So some AOL users may just forget that they have given their permission to be marketed to. And others could just be too lazy to unsubscribe in the normal way. Push the spam button, and the problem goes away. This just underscores a truism about email marketing: If the recipient thinks your message is spam, it is, regardless of what you think.

Of course, these are just some of the problems legitimate permission-based marketers must face. Another problem is ineffective spam filters. According to Assurance Systems, ISP spam filters block an average of 15 percent of legitimate email marketing messages because those messages fit their spam profiles. I have this same problem with this newsletter. Several times when I’ve sent it out, my own email provider, who runs Spam Assassin, which tags, but does not delete spam, has identified it as spam.

The highest block rates the Assurance Systems found in their latest quarterly study are:


It’s no surprise that all these false rejections can actually interfere with communications that are desired by users.

I recently started an email list for a networking group I belong to. I got a couple of emailed complaints from one member who said he wasn’t getting the list messages. I had signed him up twice before we finally figured out that MSN (Microsoft Network – you know, the stinking butterfly) was thoughtfully deleting the “Welcome to the list” message – which he needed to reply to in order to get on the list. He had to put the list email address on his “white list” and I had to sign him up a third time before he could finally join. I wasted an hour or so of my time, and more of his. Now multiply that little support drama by thousands or millions, and just think of the lost productivity!

It’s a really sad fact that most spam filters typically assign lots of spam points to several ordinary and considerate email techniques, such as including an unsubscribe line or stating why a user is getting the message (“You are receiving this email because you signed up for it.”) Check out the Spam Assassin rules sometime and you’ll marvel that anyone ever gets any unfiltered email.

Unfortunately, it will probably take the heavy hand of the law to make a real dent in spam, but I’m not going to hold my breath. In a welcome ruling against spammer MonsterHut, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lottie E. Wilkins permanently enjoined MonsterHut from misrepresenting their email marketing lists as “opt-in.” (Interestingly, MonsterHut has moved on, abandoning their Web site. If you go there now, you see a list of places to find anti-spam software.) I guess rulings like this are a start, but since spam comes from all over the world, it would take a monstrous, coordinated, worldwide legal effort to rid the world of this scourge. So don’t you hold your breath, either.

Briefly Noted

  • Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: Last issue I debuted SNS Begware, an opportunity for you, gentle reader, to express your appreciation by tipping your server via PayPal. See the sidebar for more info. Total in the kitty so far: $0.00.

    I’ve reworked the Opinion section, adding a Prediction Tracking page to track the various predictions I’ve made, and also added a Stuff I Said page with some quotes of things I said a decade or so ago on the Net.

    I repurposed and adapted an article about the wireless service known as Short Messaging Service (SMS) for the Reside newsletter. It’s entitled, Wherever they go, there you are and it points out how marketers can use – carefully – this new way to contact their customers.

    I’m featured in Manyworlds’ Thought Leader Showcase, which lists a few of the white papers I’ve done. I’ve also added their fancy icon to the StratVantage site.

    Finally, the CTOMentor wireless white paper, You Can Take It with You: Business Applications of Personal Wireless Devices, is available at ITPapers.

  • StratVantage Possible Takeover Target: Wow! You know you’ve really arrived when the M&A sharks are nipping around your ankles. Recently, a provocative email arrived at StratVantage Central:

Enclosed please find an announcement for a transaction recently completed by Kenan Aksoz of Aksoz and Company. 

 Due to the low interest rates and our extensive work in the industry, we have several buyers who are interested in acquiring a company like Stratvantage Consulting LLC

[ . . .] If you have considered divesting part or all of your interest in Stratvantage Consulting LLC. and would like to confidentially discuss the options available along with the market value of your company, please call Kenan Aksoz . . .

Imagine that! Several buyers are interested in my company! Well, they won’t get it without a fight! I’ll adopt a poison pill, or even a dead hand poison pill, and fight to the end!
Aksoz and Company

  • Rack Up Another Prediction Win: In a previous SNS, in the TrendSpot, and in articles for the TaylorHarkins and Reside newsletters, I predicted that increased Instant Messaging interoperability among cell phone carriers and Internet providers would finally boost US IM usage significantly. According to the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, US users sent 1 billion text messages last June, up from a measly 30 million in June 2001 and matching the number of IMs Europeans sent in December 2001. Is this a great country, or what?

  • Be Careful Responding to Job Postings: I recently got a notice from about a practice that is increasing: using false job postings to illegally collect personal information from unsuspecting job seekers. I’d heard about this before, but Monster is alarmed enough about the practice to send out a warning. They offer these tips for Internet job seekers:

    • Do not give your social security number, even if they suggest that it is for a "routine background check."

    • Do not provide credit card or bank numbers, or engage in any monetary transactions.

    • Do not provide any non-work related personal information (i.e. social security number, eye color, marital status etc.) over the phone or online.

    • Be cautious when dealing with contacts outside of your own country.

    • Read the article, "Protect Your Personal Info"here:

One final, humorous note: The warning was signed, Heather Abbey, Monster Seeker Support. Does she seek monsters, or is she a monstrous seeker? Either way, her mother must be so proud!

  • Good Gilder Questions: In a recent issue of futurist George Gilder’s Friday newsletter, he asks some good questions that perhaps your company should be asking in this time of economic malaise:

How many opportunities has your company bypassed, clearing the way for more nimble, entrepreneurial companies to cash in on the next wave of industry growth?

Has excessive customer focus prevented your company from creating new markets and finding new customers? Many great companies have focused intensely on customer need, and invested aggressively in new technologies, and still lost market leadership when confronted with disruptive changes in technology. When is it right not to listen to your customers?

When is it right to invest in developing lower-performance products?

How can you recognize and profit from new and emerging markets?

How will you spot the next breakthrough innovation that threatens your business?

Of course, Gilder is hyping his Storewidth conference as a way to answer these questions, but they’re good ones nonetheless.

  • Microsoft P2P SDK Beta: As mentioned in the last SNS, Microsoft has released its a beta of its Windows XP Peer-to-Peer Software Development Kit (SDK), further legitimizing the P2P marketplace that has been significantly boosted by IBM’s billion dollar investments in P2P technology and services. The SDK also includes improved support for the next generation Internet protocol, IPv6 (see the TrendSpot for more info). You can find out more about the P2P market by reading my white papers on the subject (here and here) or visiting the P2P4B2B directory.
    Internet News

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About The Author

Announcing CTOMentor, a New Service from StratVantage

Can’t Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

I’ve dubbed my Weblog entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at Let me know what you think.

Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.

In Memoriam

Gerald M. Ellsworth

March 14, 1928 - July 5, 2003

In Memoriam

Jane C. Ellsworth

July 20, 1928 - July 20, 2003