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    Back Issues, Weekly
    Week Ending: June 22, 1996
    June 22, 1996
    Email Risks
    Over the past two days, our corporate email box began to fill, slowly at first, with a series of increasingly frustrated sounding pieces of email. "Please unsubscribe me from this **#! list." "You're a(n) (pick your favorite expletive.)" and our personal favorite, "We have to fight back.". How did we earn this unpleasant stream of garbage?

    A company called GlobalBiz sent a realtively innocuous piece of promotional email late Wednesday. The idea was to attract visitors and potential members with a standard direct marketing pitch:

    We are happy to have you as a member and eager to let you know about your benefits. As you know, GlobalBIZ.com facilitates international business networking and marketing for companies and consultants around the world. The web site is located on the world wide web at http://www.globalbiz.com As a charter member you have your company and any information listed in our search engine for free during beta test period. As an additional benefit be sure to check out the site and take advantage of the free bulletin boards to post any information about your business, products and services and any info looking for reps or distributors.


    "GlobalBIZ.com offers U.S. domestic and international CEOs, corporate managers, marketing directors and other professionals unparalleled opportunities to communicate and network with each other and to direct communications to specific target markets and geographic locations," says Leah Woolford, president of GlobalBIZ.com. "Our Internet presence was borne out of our 15-year success as an international business-to-business marketing firm. We apply proven strategies for international marketing and business development to the Internet."

    snip----------blah, blah, blah---------->

    The promotional piece rambled on. We scanned it and trashed it, as we do with most poorly constructed direct marketing pieces, thinking "That's that".

    Well, Globalbiz.com made a teensy, tiny mistake that was about to haunt them and everyone on their list. Take a look at the address headers in the original email:

    Date: Wed, 19 Jun 1996 23:39:10 -0500
    From: Globalbiz Webmaster
    Organization: Globalbiz.com
    To: globalmembers@globalbiz.com
    Subject: Welcome to Globalbiz.com

    The mail address globalmembers@globalbiz.com is an "alias" for a longer list of addresses, probably stored somewhere on the Globalbiz.com mail server. By sending mail "To:" this list, Globalbiz.com was trying to courteously keep what was probably a very long list of email addresses off the top of their promotional mailing. These are the same good intentions that always seem to pave the road to hell.

    What happened next is a textbook mess for an online marketer. What would have been a normal complaint turned into a flurry of very negative email (and the opportunity to sully some reputations). A Webmaster complained about "being spammed" and asked to be removed from the list. She sent the mail to the originator of the Globalbiz.com note and "Cc:"'d globalmembers@globalbiz.com. Intentional or not, she turned the innocent mistake into a nightmare. Her complaint was echoed by two or three others, copying her format. Pretty soon, everyone on the list was on the receiving end of an avalanche of email.

    The net result? We guesstimate that hundreds of Globiz.com's potential customers had their email boxes fill with ugly, impolite email. The Globalbiz.com claim that they "facilitate international business networking and marketing" was in tatters in an important niche.

    The sad thing is that this could have been avoided very simply by making the address a "Bcc:". "Bcc:" stands for "Blind Courtesy Copy". The various recipients on the "Bcc:" list can not fill each others boxes with trash, they are simply provided with a copy of the original note.

    It's normal to receive some negative email from a promotional piece, no matter how well targeted. Globalbiz.com's problem was that they put this normal noise into an amplifier through ignorance of the tools that they were using.

    The moral of this case study? Know the results that you want and make sure that you use your tools correctly. A teensy, tiny little mistake cost this company a great deal of credibility, nearly unfixable PR problems and wasted the time of hundreds of members of its target market.

    A minor note: If you find yourself on the receiving end of this kind of mistake, be very careful about your response. Digital communications are somewhat unforgiving and your email may be seen by hundreds of other people on a list somewhere. Rudeness and arrogance in your reply may do more damage to your reputation than it does to the note's originators. We got lots of copies of mail that would probably have been framed differently if the senders had stopped to think that we might be reading it.

    June 21, 1996
    Advertising Law
    Bookmark The Advertising Law Internet Site. If you're like us, the legal parameters of advertising, though common sense at their roots, are new turf because the Web turns us into publishers. The Advertising Law Internet Site is a solid study of the fundamentals with access to a broad range of additional informative resources.

    June 20, 1996
    Graphics Tidbits
    • Take a look at the Background Generator. It has about 120 different background patterns (all donated) with the ability to "morph" the color scheme online. Nice tool.

    • We've been fans of Pixelsite for a long time now. The site allows you to develop custom buttons, banners and a wide variety of text graphics on line.

    • The Colors of Netscape is a solid description of the way that Netscape handles color and images.

    June 19, 1996
    Design Tidbits

    June 18, 1996
    The First Ws Stand for World Wide
    How big is the world? A quick browse through this site (and many others) would leave an uninformed guest with the opinion that the world stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific and everyone in the world speaks Americanized English. The Pilot (Your Guide To Cyberspace) manages to crack some of those Amero-centric assumptions with a guide to marketing and Web resources in both French and English.

    Michel Bauwens (a Belgian, we think) has assembled an amazing collections of pointers, tutorials and tips with a very real emphasis on practical techniques and hands-on advice. If you're working with a boss or client who just "doesn't get it", you might consider offering this site as a solid introduction to Web Marketing. There are few better examples of the globalisation of the economy than Bauwens' tour of the marketing universe.

    Every now and then, we become persuaded that we've seen it all. The Cybrarian Guide to Cyber Marketing (the Pilot's central offering) manages to focus exclusively on excellence while presenting a hierarchical tour of the arena. We found a number of gems that we'd missed including Poppe Tyson's delightful introduction to Marketing online. GIve The Cybrarian Guide to Cyber Marketing a whirl. We found that the more time we spent at the site, the more benefit we got.

    June 17, 1996
    Leave 'Em Laughing
    We get accused (sometimes rightly) of being a willing participant in the overall lack of humor in web marketing. It's terribly easy to lose sight of the fact that the Web is a medium for engaging your customer. Frivolous, even silly features may well go further as a traffic attractor and relationship binder than all of the serious well intentioned content that you can deliver.

    With that in mind, we point you to Mark's Apology Note Generator. The simple page has generated 36,000 apology notes (and we'd guess 10 times as many visitors) in a nine month span. Simple silly features can bring you traffic.

    June 16, 1996
    Advertising Effectiveness
    In what's becoming an ongoing feature, we've organized the advertising statistics for the various IBN sites for the past six weeks. They're presented in a large table (which is a bit easier to read if you print it out at 60% reduction and in a landscape format). As you might guess, the results are complex and not easy to interpret.

    For instance, a dramatic rise in visitors doesn't necessarily translate into a proportional increase in click rates. Interestingly, a dramatic decrease in visitors doesn't cause a corresponding decrease in the gross number of clicks.

    While we assumed that the traffic decrease associated with the Memorial Day Holiday in the United States would last about a week, it turns out that there are a series of seasonal events that span a three week period. They include the Holiday, various graduations, the beginning of the summer social season and so on. We began tracking the comings and goings of about 100 of our associates and their web usage.

    During this seasonal change, the web was treated much like an in basket. The trade and professional information accumulated in piles while work took a backseat to social obligation and holiday expeditions. It's just this past week that our traffic statistics took a move towards continued growth. Had we not been engaged in constant promotional efforts, we think it likely that our performance measures would have declined even further.

    Though we have solid indications that the content of an ad is directly related to click-through performance, we are less clear about the seasonal effects. It's also beginning to appear that there is a raw number of "views" of an ad (much like direct marketing) that influence the click rate.

    Since our traffic has certifiably begun its next growth phase, we expect click rates to mature over the next three or four weeks. We'll keep you posted.

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