Copyright © 2006 Jim Edwards
The end of the free ride for email marketing looms on the horizon.
The days of building up or buying a big email list and freely using it to market and sell online are numbered like the dinosaurs heading for an ice age cold snap.
The technical and time costs of dealing with email traffic (primarily driven by rampant illegal spam) will soon break the back of both Internet service providers (ISPs) and online email services.
Major online players like AOL and MSN are currently wrestling with two solutions to the problem, but I personally think the almighty dollar will win out in the end.
The two solutions proposed to stem the tide of commercial spam once and for all revolve around either “white listing” email senders or charging a “toll” (typically .25-1 cent per email message) to allow email through.
Currently, ISPs and email providers can either maintain their own white lists, as in the case of AOL, or the can share one.
In the “old” days, companies could (and still do) subscribe to “black lists” (like SpamHaus.org) which exclude email senders based on reports of spamming and other factors.
Though the “black list” method rates the least accurate, it’s currently the most popular simply because it requires the least effort by companies trying to block spam.
However, as spammers get smarter, black listing has proven an ineffective spam deterrent and ISPs must get proactive if they hope to survive.
However, an inherent weakness in the “white list” system makes charging for commercial email inevitable.
Since white listing requires effort on the part of the ISP or email provider (they must ultimately pay real people to manage the list), this means additional cost.
Unlike a relatively inexpensive subscription to a “black list service” which gets implemented automatically by software filters, white listing requires people to do work which carries a real world cost.
Bottom line: most ISPs and email services will not be able to create, maintain or implement a white list for very long without charging.
Yet, consumers tired of the avalanche of spam are demanding effective protection by those they pay for Internet and email access.
Thus, any service hoping to survive long-term must adopt a hybrid of both the white list and “toll booth” approaches.
This means not only evaluating the legitimacy of every commercial email sender’s methods, but also charging them for the email they send through a particular service or network. It’s inevitable.
Now, the cry that immediately goes up at this point sounds like this, “What about the “little guys” who can’t afford to pay the fee or the family newsletters that aren’t commercial? What about them?”
In a perfect world, their email would go through.
In the real world, their email will get lost even more frequently in the future than it does now in the existing tangle of email filters and inconsistent white and black listing.
The hope of survival and prosperity for the “little guy” lies squarely in the hands of blogging and RSS feeds.
Since blogging and rss feeds enable consumers to subscribe directly to information using an RSS “reader,” they completely bypass the need to send email.
This eliminates the “middle man” of an email provider and puts control over what content gets received squarely in the hands of the consumer.
Though this technology has existed for several years now, awareness by mainstream consumers of what RSS feeds are and how to subscribe to them has been relatively slow.
The biggest contributor to the slow adoption in the mainstream has been the absence of a universally distributed RSS “reader” on every computer (similar to how Outlook or Outlook Express on every Windows PC helped make email universally understood).
But that should also change shortly as more RSS readers get included in Web browsers and email programs in the near future.
So while the “big guys” will push their messages to consumers by paying what will surely amount to an ever- increasing “toll” to get their emails through, the “little guys” will “pull” consumers to them with subscriptions to blogs and RSS feeds.
Whether it happens this year, next year, or the year after – make no mistake – the email “toll booth” is coming for commercial emailers and newsletter publishers.
So, if you depend on sending email for your company’s profits, either get ready, plan, and budget for the new tolls, or start making arrangements to distribute your content via blogs and RSS feeds, because the market will shortly force you to make a choice.
About the author:
Jim Edwards is a syndicated newspaper columnist and co-author of an amazing program that teaches you how to use free articles to quickly drive thousands of targeted visitors to your website, affiliate links, or blogs… without spending a dime on advertising! Click Here: https://www.turnwordsintotraffic.com