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What if your email address could demand respect?

Cell Phone email preview - they call that a solution.

Do I really want to have the "review" my email before I download?

Cingular's mobile phone implementation of OZ's email client is getting some good reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. One feature that is expressly noted, is the ability to review the message before download. And, it's noted as though I should appreciate this functionality? One step forward, two back on that one. I guess OZ's design is as good as it gets when it comes to controlling undesirable content in the wireless world.

Google - Just what are you worth?

Another chapter in the book of; Consumer Value Exploitation.

Google has made a very lucrative practice (to the tune of a few million $$$ a day) of collecting data on you. A complex puzzle - Not really. Each time you use a Google service (Web search, GoogleMaps, gMail, and now Google Wifi (yes they're getting into the ISP business) they complete another portion of your life puzzle. Today they're coming clean (or airing their dirt - depending on your point of view) with an update to their privacy policy saying their not sure just how long they'll keep your data hanging around or how their affiliate companies will use that data.

The Big Moo is not just a Purple Cow

My friends at Conference Calls Unlimited have been gracious enough to share with me a copy of the Big Moo. What a wonderful read!

I must admit, Seth Godin, and this time "and company", have done it again. This book is a fabulous collection of the "What-it-takes" to make "things" happen. Not only is the book informative, inspiring, and oh so relevent, it's also downright fun to read.

If all of this were not enough, The Big Moo was written and distributed all in the name of making something very worthwhile "happen".

The value of consumer attention.

Consumers, in many cases, feel helpless that their personal value (and space) is being exploited, so they have learned to ignore the inbound.

Permission Marketing introduced fabulous insight and was my first of many exposures to Seth Godin. In my opinion, the problem with interruption marketing today is that the total cost of advertising is being determined by the cost of production and cost of contact. There is no real value given to the consumer's attention. This is similar to calculations that involve the use of "free", but extremely valuable, natural resources.

Lowering the price of gas

There is an email that, on regular occasion, walks the Internet suggesting we select the largest American oil company and boycott it at the pumps. Here is a sample of the email: http://www.breakthechain.org/exclusives/exxon.html

The basics of its argument is: If we boycott (Exxon for example) we would force prices down, not through lowering our consumption (because the author suggests we can do this without "hurting" ourselves) but through the creation of a price war. My initial reaction is this; Based on the popularity of this message, and its circulation, I am concerned that there is a large portion of the population buying this argument.

Even "The Man" can't control his spam problem.

This was too funny to ignore:

From News Week: Oct. 10, 2005 issue: Perspectives:
"Hey Bill, just thought I would make sure we were on for golf on Friday. Please respond to confirm."
An anonymous text message to Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, one of about 100 he received when his demo of the new Windows Mobile-powered Palm Treo revealed the number of the phone he was using. The phone is now being kept off because it won't stop buzzing.

When will they learn? It's not the content, or volume; It is simply a lack of respect. Additionally, even charging a penny per message would not solve this problem. As you can imagine just how many people around the globe would be willing to annoy Bill Gates for a penny per pop!

Why do spammers spam?

Ah, the multi-million dollar question. They do it because they make money, big money, and they don't care about those who don't want their message. Let's look at a quick example:

First, keep in mind that in the direct mail marketing game, a response rate of 1% to .5% is not uncommon (this means 1 in every 100 to 200 persons contacted might become a customer.)

Now, let's look at email and spam - A spammer dodges virtually the entire cost of postage, so if there are no significant delivery costs what limits their volume? Nothing really. So, what is the result of the increased volume? If a spammer sends out 10 million messages (not unusual) and only gets a .0001% response, (that's 1,000 times worse than our postal mail example) they find 1000 new customers. Of course, aside from new customers they've annoyed 9,990,000 users. But, why should they care.

Anti-spam vs. Email Security

Spam, viruses, phishing attacks and spyware are all very different animals, however, the term "spam" has become all encompassing. Additionally, customers simply want all email threats protected via a single solution. This is to be expected as customers are continually being burdened by the cost to protect their digital space. With that said, consumers are also looking for the best value. Anti-spam applications should be selected on their ability to control spam (undesirable messages) as well as potentially damaging email threats, like viruses, spyware and phishing attacks.

While it is possible to load a variety of software on your computer (or mail server,) it is a service or stand-alone appliance that will better protect you against threats. It will instead clean your email before it is delivered to you. This will free up resources (PC and network) and ensure threats are removed before they reach your computer or mail server. Terms such as, email gateway, email firewall or email appliance are typical for the solution you should be considering.

The suite to control spam

It's become apparent that multiple technologies are required to manage the spam problem (at least until users demand to step outside the box and take real control - but more on this later.) So, if you'd like to learn more read on, if you would like to simple get a PC Magazine Editors' Choice Anti-Spam suite scroll to the bottom and look for the link to Vanquish.

Moving on - "The Anti-Spam Suite," is a consolidation of multiple technologies working in concert. The goal being, to work with your email habits to learn continuously what your preferences. No rules to adjust, nothing to set, just us it. While this sounds like a no brainer, most anti-spam products don't learn automatically and they don't learn based on your message content. For a quick example - any product that does not monitor your outbound mail has no idea what your message content looks like, so how can it make inteligent decisions on your inbound messages? (Notice - Some anti-spam systems actually route your messages to humans for review and approval. What do you think about that for privacy?)

Managing spam

Spam is annoying, extremely time consuming and sometimes dangerous. Because the term "spam" has become all-inclusive, it has made the description of the situation a bit more complex than it should be. The all-inclusive term should be "email security". Anyway, we'll start with "spam".

The many ways to manage spam.

You'll notice I use the word "manage" in place of "stop." Let's not kid ourselves, "stop" is a strong word. Let's look at some of the common techniques to "manage" the problem of spam:

Never give out your email address: This works great, if you want to live under a rock!

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