Technology

NetNewsWire and RSS Recommendations

NetNewsWire is my RSS reader of choice because it’s no fuss, simple to use, and available for Mac and iOS. In this post I will outline what RSS feeds I currently subscribe to, in no particular order.

This post doesn’t intend to teach you how to use NetNewsWire or what RSS feeds are, there are plenty of resources on the internet to explain what to do better than I can.

Wherever you see rss below, right click then copy, then paste it into a new feed in NetNewsWire.

Art and Museums

WordPress Related

  • Every WordPress blog has an RSS feed.
  • There is a plugin called Simple History which will track changes made on your WordPress website. This is particularly useful in a setup where multiple users are editing pages. Simple History will create an RSS feed that I find invaluable.
  • Uptime Robot is a tool to monitor unplanned downtime on your website, there is a free version. Apart from sending you alerts via email, you can receive them through an RSS feed.

Cartoons

  • Adam and Andy is a particularly good LGBTQ cartoon [website / rss]

The following cartoons are ones I subscribe to from an RSS feed created from GoComics via ComicsRSS, find the cartoon you love.

  • Andy Capp [rss]
  • Brewster rockit [rss]
  • Fred Basset [rss]
  • Garfield [rss]
  • Hagar [rss]
  • Peanuts [rss]
  • Tarzan [rss]
  • View Business [rss]

Comics

Food

LGBTQ

News

Technology

Weather

YouTube

I subscribe to a number of YouTube channels.

To change a YouTube channel to an RSS feed, do the following:

  1. Part of your URL will be https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=
  2. Go to the YouTube channel you want to subscribe to.
  3. Click on “More about this channel”
  4. Click on Share Channel
  5. Click on Copy Channel ID
  6. Place the Channel ID at the end of the URL in step 1 so it will look like https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCE1hSTtarnNASCXEpFw0jRQ
  7. Paste into a new feed into NetNewsWire

Summary

The above RSS feeds reflect my hobbies and interests, I hope you find something here of interest to you.

2024-04-23T04:46:53+00:0023 April 2024|Technology|

Amazon AI Failures

I notice some Tech media today is reporting the lazy use of AI when placing products on Amazon, there are some very “amusing” failures.

Couple of the articles I have seen are as follows:

Why would anyone buy from sellers who can’t even get the title of their products right and don’t check the AI output once they are online? Also, I’m quite surprised that Amazon doesn’t have a review process that catches these out.

It appears some have been taken down but I found one just prior to writing this article.

Amazon Strange Product Title

Also, I noticed this following product which hasn’t got the best title in the world but the price is CAD $13,000.19. That is a ridiculous price for a plastic toilet brush. So, when I posted it to social media some say it could be related to money laundering, well, I’m not sure about that but it does look suspicious. Over a month ago I wrote to Amazon about the product but they still haven’t done anything to correct it, not sure whether they are lazy or don’t care. Today I posted a question on the product, maybe that will raise some attention to it. If they reply I will post an update here.

Amazon Loo Brush

It’s always best to take extra care when ordering products on Amazon, it’s like going to an open air market, most people will be great but there are always going to be bad actors. I generally ignore the reviews, I don’t know whether they are fake or legitimate. For some products it is better to pay more and go to the store. Amazon Canada is often more expensive than other outlets including stores anyway.

2024-01-12T22:04:42+00:0012 January 2024|Technology|

Too Many Marketing Emails

I made the mistake of providing my email address to a store and I won’t be doing that again. Some respect a consumers privacy and the law but some don’t, and once a bad actor has your details it’s difficult to get rid of them.

The Shoe Company aka DSW

I just went in to buy a pair of shoes, I did get what I want and the product was good. However, I mistakenly provided them my email address. Before I even got to the car across the street I had received a cheesy marketing email from them so I unsubscribed.

I had thought that was the end of it but they kept emailing me, I unsubscribed every time. So, one day I just had enough and sent them an stern email. I also blacklisted their domain and IP address, so even if they responded I would never receive it.

Even that wasn’t the end of the story, they used an outsourcing contractor to contact me with a “how are we doing” survey. So I blacklisted the domain and IP address of that company too, I never completed the survey of course. Hopefully, I will now never hear from the again.

What To Do At The Store

A store may ask you for your email address and/or phone number before they have even started the transaction, just say “no”. If they press for it then I would just say “its none of your business”. You don’t have to provide the information to buy anything unless of course you are registering a product for future support or a warranty. They may even ask for an email to send the receipt to, just ask for a hard copy. Of course, its always best to remain polite and smile, the check out staff are just doing the job they’ve been told to do and they might even do the same when shopping themselves. If it becomes too difficult then I would personally walk out the store without making a purchase.

Loyalty Cards

If you have a loyalty card with a store then there is some kind of private information they have obtained from you at some point. I noticed one store has actually done away with them and buying a sale item, or other items come to that, no longer requires that card. That store was Haggens in the US, I was pleasantly surprised by that move.

Your Email Account

If you do want to give out an email to stores, and go on their e-newsletter list, I would recommend not using your main account, create one specifically for mailing lists and subscriptions.  That way, it keeps the junk separate from your day to day personal or business communication.

Assuming you only want to deal with one email account, and depending on what type of email supplier you have, it is possible to filter your messages in some kind of way, such as redirect them to a folder. You might be able to do this at the server level at your web host or by creating a rule or filter within your email program. I found this on YouTube for Gmail accounts.

I made a mistake and I’m now going through the steps to take back control as many others can do.

2024-01-11T00:18:41+00:0011 January 2024|Customer Service, Technology|

2023 in Tech

It’s been quite an interesting year regarding technology and social media, so this is what has happened in my world.

Social Media

I have kept clear from social media somewhat this year, maybe because the world is in such a mess reading more about it makes me depressed. Also, the constant barrage of hearing about Trump depresses me too.

  • Twitter/X – It’s been over a year now since I left the platform and I don’t miss how toxic it’s become.  Mr Musk has certainly destroyed it further.
  • Facebook – I am still on there but don’t post frequently, only 5% of my friends actually use it now. I will delete my account there in the near future, there will be a minority of people who would keep in touch, probably can count them on one hand.
  • Instagram – I deleted all my posts and just view what other’s put up, mainly museums and art galleries. As Facebook, I will most likely delete my account in the near future.
  • Threads – I was on there for one day, pretty much says it all.
  • Mastodon – I am on this platform more frequently given its a non-profit and feels like a safe place. However, there is potential connectivity with the Meta’s Threads so I will have to monitor what happens when there is more information available. They have connected to Flipboard and followed a couple of entities there but not seen any posts come through.
  • Pixelfed – Also part of the “Fediverse” this is the new Instagram for me although I don’t post that often. Being a non-photographer doesn’t provide me with much impact.

China

Earlier in this year I found out China is blocking my website. Upon further investigation it looked as though they blocked it in some, but not all, areas of the country. I was advised it was because I used Google Analytics and placed YouTube videos in some of my posts. The Chinese firewall blocks Google. I also understand it also blocks the DuckDuckGo search engine. It’s interesting to note that my website is linked from Chinese search engines.

I received a notification from Google Search Console that iQiyi, the Chinese TV maker/platform, had asked Google to remove links to my review of Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty. The message suggested that they wanted to control all messaging about the program. I removed the content from my post even though the company didn’t have the courtesy to contact me directly or go through the usual DMCA rules about removing copyrighted material. Not sure why they wouldn’t want their programs promoted but it’s no big deal for me to distance myself from them, they certainly aren’t going to make friends with this attitude though.

If I have any more stress from China I may just drop all related reviews from this website and just stop doing all reviews. We’ll see how things go.

Other Tech

  • Microsoft Outlook – I am disappointed with what Microsoft have done with New Outlook. It’s been 3 years since they been working on this and functionality is more advanced with other email programs. I’ve tried Apple Mail and it’s really slow, there are many issues with Mozilla Thunderbird too so those aren’t really doable for me.
  • Tap Forms 5 – This is a database software for Mac that I do most of my work in, I created my own CRM in it. This is now my vital tool of choice.
  • Cloud – I stopped using Microsoft OneDrive and now use either external drives or iCloud.  I found OneDrive fairly hit and miss to use.
  • Computer – I have a souped up 2017 iMac and I know I will have to replace it at some point. With Apple’s current offerings I’m not sure what I would get, either way it would cost me an arm and a leg. The 2023 iMac is very disappointing at only 24″ so this wouldn’t be worth it. I guess we’ll see what happens in the future.
  • Adobe – Although the software is expensive I am pleased with the progress the company is making. I tried out their Generative Fill/AI tools in Photoshop, they appear hit and miss right now. I have used it to clean up old photos with either extremely impressive or very poor results. I look forward to see how this feature develops.
  • AI – Aside from Adobe above, I have played with other online AI tools. They are quite amusing but don’t have a real need for them right now. I have made several moves to protect my assets, in particular this website, from text and pictures being utilized by these companies.
  • Joplin – This is now my notes program of choice, been using it a while and it suits me perfectly. Apple Notes and Microsoft One Note are really slow to sync.
  • Apple Calendar – This is ok for my needs, the New Outlook one has too many issues, Thunderbird Calendar is unusable.

Web Site Security

For my client websites more of my time is taken up with security issues. The constant barrage is tiring. December has been a fairly quiet month though.

For my website, I have blocked Russia and Belarus so I don’t have any security issues at all. For the reasons stated above I have also blocked China.

News and RSS

Meta has blocked news links on their site, this is a good explainer from the BBC. As I discovered, non-news websites can be blocked, Facebook and Instagram have never been to bright with their “algorithms”. This is obviously another reason to keep off Meta entities but my main source of news has always been via RSS feeds and more so during 2023.

2023-12-24T18:24:16+00:0024 December 2023|Social Media, Technology|

YouTube Ruins YouTube

On the OpenSource forums and social media platforms I belong to there is a lot of discussion about YouTube being stricter on the use of AdBlockers.

What Is An AdBlocker?

Many people use AdBlockers online not only because they block many intrusive adverts but also because:

  1. Improve the speed of web pages showing up in a browser rather than waiting for the adverts to appear.
  2. Improve privacy as adverts can come with third-party trackers that may collect data you don’t want others to have.
  3. Protect users from malware.

What Data Does YouTube, aka Google, collect from me?

This is easy to find out from the Apple App Store:

YouTube Data Collected

It’s very scary how much data is collected from users. Note that Meta and Twitter also harvests the same amount of information from its users. I would recommend double checking before installing these apps and ensure, using tools on your smartphone, they cannot track you.

YouTube Strategy Regarding AdBlockers

Lately, users have been receiving the message below. They are being given three warnings, if they don’t disable their AdBlocker/s they won’t be able to play any more videos. This policy is in their terms and conditions, it’s just now they are enforcing it in a very strict manner. This is partly achieved using cookies so the technology they are able to do this is not really ground breaking.

YouTube AdBlock Message

Looking at various articles around the internet I notice these perspectives on this strategy.

  1. “SEO Experts” and “advertisers” like this strategy as it will force YouTube users to watch the adverts and buy their products.
  2. This is just a way of YouTube to make more money out of users through their extremely expensive and unreasonably priced “premium” subscription. The content on there is not worth the subscription price.
  3. AdBlocker’s mean “content creators” don’t get paid, however, many now include in-video affiliate advertising as they have adapted over time. Some users have Patreon accounts to make money and offer additional content. Also, some people suggest money hasn’t gone to content creators since 2012 from YouTube.
  4. There is so much trash and illegal content on YouTube that, along with the adverts, will force viewers off the platform.
  5. Users don’t want adverts especially when they appear several times during the video they are trying to watch.
  6. YouTube aka Google are so rich they could limit their advertising including those which interrupt a video.
  7. I don’t have any AdBlockers but still receive their message, YouTube can’t even get this right and don’t get back to users when the issue is reported.

On YouTube there is the “My Ad Center” feature in which you are supposed to be able to indicate your advertising preferences relating to subjects and brands you don’t want to receive adverts about. However, in my experience, this is broken. I tell YouTube I don’t want to receive adverts on a certain subject but I appear to see more of them, same with brands. I suspect this is just a tool which creates the perception that they care about the users, a placebo, but has the reverse effect since it doesn’t work.

Is Google To Be Trusted?

I would say no. I’ve seen a trend from quite a large community of people, especially security and privacy experts, to “De-Google” their devices and computers. There are plenty of high quality alternatives around today regarding all Google products. For a YouTube alternative consider the more professional platform Vimeo or the federated universe platforms such as TILvids.

For me, Google is one of the worst spam supporting ISPs. Most of the spam emails I receive comes from Gmail accounts that someone can all too easily set up. Microsoft is another one of these spam ISPs as well. Neither of these companies do enough to protect their users, this is contrary to the adverts they play time and time again on the television.

Summary

YouTube, like other platforms such as Twitter, have become too big for their boots that it is difficult for users to leave them. The amount of useful accounts on the platform are few and far between. Everybody has something to sell us no matter where we go and it’s becoming tougher to avoid; we get it on the TV, radio, newspapers, through our letter box, email, telephone, social media and more. Personally, they are a waste of my time and unlike what these companies want us to believe, they aren’t helpful or life enhancing and more than ever I am careful about companies siphoning off my personal data.

2023-10-19T03:52:44+00:0019 October 2023|Social Media, Technology|

Outlook vs Apple Mail vs Thunderbird

I’ve not been happy with Microsoft Outlook for some time now and have been looking for a potential replacement but don’t want to spend beyond what I’m already paying out. This is what an ideal candidate would look like:

  • Simple to use
  • Pleasant interface
  • In-software local folders to pull messages off the server
  • Rules
  • Links with Apple Contacts
  • Categories (or Tags)
  • In-software calendar

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft has been working on a “New Outlook” for 3+ years now, that and the “legacy” versions are available. The New version is clearly a long way off from being finished…still. I was forced to reboot into New, found out that it was rubbish, and then went back to Legacy losing emails, rules and other functionality. I was less than impressed. Legacy was useable before that happened. Rather than lose more data I’m sticking on New.

Current observances re New

  1. HTML emails didn’t load the graphics properly in Legacy but in New, this is improved.
  2. You cannot add or subtract column headings in email.
  3. “All Accounts” is not an accurate summary of what appears in other accounts, still need to scroll down all email addresses or set them as favourite.
  4. Categories for non-Outlook dot com accounts do not show in the email view as they did in Legacy.
  5. No rules for non-outlook dot com accounts
  6. Contacts you had on the desktop rather than Outlook dot com don’t show categories properly. I’m getting the feeling Microsoft want you to upload your contacts into the online version of Outlook but I don’t want to do that.
  7. You are “locked out” of viewing emails with digital signatures after you’ve opened them once, no such issue in Legacy, Thunderbird or Apple Mail.
  8. “My Day” doesn’t show items entered in Microsoft To-Do (they said it’s supposed to, but maybe its coming later).
  9. Doesn’t work well with an iCloud account.
  10. For every email attachment, an empty text file is received as well.
  11. There is some wording in the program that refers to Windows rather than Mac infrastructure.
  12. UX/UI is improved but that is useless if so many features don’t work.

I’ve tried funnelling this feedback through to Microsoft but nothing ever improves, I guess it might take them another 3 years to fix this stuff.

Apple (Mac) Mail

This is a very decent program. Nice UX/UI. Local (On My Mac) folders. Links with Apple Contacts well.

Observances:

  1. Painfully slow connectivity to IMAP servers. I notice many others have this issue. Makes the program unusable.
  2. Doesn’t integrate well with Apple Calendars or Reminders, Outlook does this better. Sharing a calendar with other Apple family members works ok but meeting invites to others don’t work, branding especially sucks. Calendar invites go through the Apple server and arrive from no-reply @ email dot apple dot com. There is little room for branding or customisation of these invites.
  3. They don’t have categories.
  4. Rules under settings work well
  5. The iPhone/iPad version of Mail is much better.

Thunderbird

They have just released version 115 and it is much improved. It still has a clunky interface but that may be part of its charm, not for me. It has local folders, an in-built calendar, and access to Apple Contacts. IMAP server connectivity is the fastest out of both Outlook and Apple.

Observances:

  1. No folder displaying all emails from every account. However, it does have favourite folders which is helpful.
  2. I love how you can assign a custom sound when an email arrives.
  3. Can’t really get email and calendar to work well together and the recipient receives an ugly meeting invite. I can’t include an attachment, only a web link. I sent 2 calendar invites to my Yahoo account, the second one took about 30 minutes to arrive, it did include [yes – maybe – no] and that updated the calendar but there are two ics files attached which is a little confusing – the text I sent with the invite never arrived. The layout of the calendar invite workflow is better than Apple Calendar, the only downside is the UX/UI. Since I send quite a few meeting invites this solution doesn’t work for me.
  4. The program uses Mac Contacts which is helpful.
  5. UX/UI is improved but could be much better, much better. The calendar is still pretty bad.
  6. I like my emails displayed in a list and you can turn on/off column heading, which is great compared with New Outlook.
  7. When I last tried out Thunderbird newsgroups they don’t work very well but I can’t find these in version 115.

Summary

None of the above programs really do what I want them to do. The one I will have to stick with is New Outlook because it acts as a more business program with an integrated Calendar, and the UI/UX is easier to work with than the other programs. Unfortunately, I don’t see any of the important features I need on their In Development List so I expect I am screwed.

2023-07-19T23:35:25+00:0019 July 2023|Technology|

New Outlook for Mac

This is a quick summary of my experiences with New Outlook for Mac and, quite frankly, it’s really extremely disappointing.

Background

I wasn’t sure what release I was on. I was using the older version and one day I opened it up as usual and it just said “Next time you open the application it will go straight into New Outlook for Mac”. I really like to plan for these things so I had to drop everything I was doing and go into backup mode. Backing up took me about 1 hour.

The Good

  • The best thing about the updated version is the look and feel. It looks smooth and is a pleasant workspace to spend time in.
  • When I opened up the program it had deleted all “On My Computer” folders (I did have a backup though). Then a pop-up appeared to restore them, this took about 30 minutes and was moderately successful. See “The Bad” below for more information.

That is all the good I have.

The Bad

Sigh. Where do I begin?

  • I was disappointed to see that it didn’t migrate all my “On My Computer” files across, this was a bit of a nuisance but I did have a backup.
  • There are no Rules, none, anywhere. There was an item on the menu bar but nothing worked on any account. This function, at least for now, is useless.
  • I receive emails from universities that use embedded security certificates. I could open the email once but that is it. After that, the email was locked and unreadable.  No other action could be taken on the message such as delete, reply, forward, move etc.  I investigated further and could see those messages, without problem, in Thunderbird, webmail and iOS email applications. So, this just seems to be an Outlook issue.
  • There is no export feature, the items under the File menu were just greyed out no matter what part of the program I was in.
  • Moving a message actually copied it, so it was now in two places. This has never been the case with Outlook before, move meant move, now it means copy.

Every time I opened the program I found a new problem and barrier to getting my work done.

Recommendations

New Outlook is clearly not in a fit state to be released right now. If I found these errors what atrocities are beneath the hood?  Thanks, Microsoft but no thanks.

Summary

Microsoft has been working on New Outlook including “On My Computer” for virtually 2 years now, maybe longer. Looking around and facing all these issues is just a waste of my time dealing with them. I wish they would just get their act together and tidy up these errors or missing features before releasing another version. How much longer?

Many users say Microsoft actually can’t be bothered with Mac users and puts them down the priority list. Whether or not this is true I don’t know but it certainly feels that way.

Maybe I need to just drop Outlook and use something like Thunderbird.

2023-05-05T22:28:25+00:005 May 2023|Technology|

SuiteCRM vs EspoCRM vs TapForms5

I was having issues with SuiteCRM so I decided to create my own CRM in TapForms but then I came across EspoCRM.

What Happened to SuiteCRM

This is a totally awesome Contact Relationship Manager (CRM) tool which is based on SugarCRM. They came out with version 8 and upon upgrading it obliterated my current version and all its data, luckily I had a backup. Then, I tried to do a fresh install but there didn’t appear to be any install php file, I notice in the forums this has stumped many other people. Maybe there is a different way of installing the application that me and other users aren’t getting.

It doesn’t matter really, I really appreciate the time I was on SuiteCRM but I decided to abandon it at this point.

Onto TapForms5

Since I already purchased TapForms, an amazing database for Mac, iPhone and iPad, made in Canada, I decided to create my own CRM in that tool. There are many advantages using my own database:

  • Encrypted
  • Very reasonably priced.
  • Ability to create other databases apart from a CRM, no limitations.
  • Has scripting ability but also easy enough to use if one doesn’t have those abilities.
  • Sync over multiple devices via iCloud or other cloud services.
  • View offline without an internet connection.
  • Design as I need it from scratch without the irrelevant structure of an off-the-shelf tool.
  • Later, sometime in the future, I might not have a hosting account which means an online CRM would be out of the equation.

I’m really happy with where I am with TapForms.

EspoCRM

Someone in the SuiteCRM forum, who also had similar issues to myself, wrote and recommended EspoCRM so I went ahead and tried it out.

Espo wouldn’t replace TapForms5 now but I see some advantages to using it:

  • It’s very light weight
  • Easy to install on your own hosting environment.
  • Its aesthetically pleasing to the eye, good UX/UI.
  • Easier to customize the fields.
  • Works well on multiple platforms, good responsive design, as long as you have an internet connection.

Summary

These would be my recommendations:

  1. If you don’t have a hosting account try and use a database like TapForms5
  2. SuiteCRM is powerful although slightly pretty complex, but it would be my second choice, if you understand how to install it.
  3. EspoCRM would be my third choice especially for ease of use.
2023-03-21T17:16:21+00:0021 March 2023|Technology|

Siteground Drops SpamExperts

My web host, Siteground, has recently dropped the well-known email spam-checking tool SpamExperts.

Background

Siteground is popular, I would say “advanced”, web hosting company. It is more expensive than some common old mass-market hosts like GoDaddy.

SpamExperts is a spam-checking web application that many web hosts subscribe to. Siteground has dropped SpamExperts and created its own solution.

Surprise Surprise

Dropping SpamExperts was kind of a surprise, one day it was there and the next it wasn’t. They said they sent a communication to admins but I certainly never received it. I would like to have known beforehand so I could have exported my white and blacklists from the application.

The change required an update of MX records and it just didn’t work out for me. A couple of Siteground reps were able to fix that for me, my email was back within three-quarters of a day.

SpamExperts

I’ve never liked SpamExperts. It is labour-intensive and too cumbersome for my needs. There were multiple clicks to get to the application and most of the functions within were irrelevant to me, I just needed to whitelist or blacklist, that is it.

The relationship between Siteground and SpamExperts appeared to be problematic with issues from time to time. I remember a year ago it was taking messages a day or more to appear in the application, so anything important going into quarantine I couldn’t get to for a long time.  It did improve over time but still wasn’t particularly happy with that process.

Siteground and other hosts just feed suggestions into SpamExperts about enhancements but whether the company picks them up is another thing.

In-House Solution

Often it is easier to provide an in-house solution rather than be reliant on third parties and could be cheaper in the long run.

I don’t have to go to another website to handle spam now. This is what I generally do:

  • Site Tools > Email > Filters
    I filter suspect top-level domains (TLDs) to redirect to a junk folder or discard them before they reach my email. I use SpamHaus as a guide to block the worst TLDs.
  • Site Tools > Email > Spam Protection
    I have entered my most important email addresses (family, friends, vendors and clients) to Allow Senders to ensure they aren’t redirected to junk ie whitelisting them.

Summary

I am very happy with the solution they provided; simple, all in one place, and easier to manage.

2023-01-12T17:27:26+00:0012 January 2023|Technology|

Email Marketing Gone Wild

In recent years I’ve noticed that promotional marketing from companies has increased in frequency beyond what I can handle.

Most of the companies I sign up to receive emails from, I do so for a reason because I’m on the lookout for one of their products or new releases. However, bombarding my inbox with messages every day, or sometimes more frequently, is too much to handle, therefore I will unsubscribe. Then, I will often forget to visit their website for new releases I might want.

From the industry statistics provided by Constant Contact, it looks as though the click rate (percentage of consumers clicking on links in emails) has really decreased during the years. In the first line, All Industries, the click rate is only 1.11%! With all the messages being sent out, that average is tiny and I wonder whether if it’s actually worth putting a lot of resources into such an endeavour.  However, they must get some business, awareness or brand loyalty out of it. Brand loyalty is about keeping your current or potential customers aware that you exist and are there for them.

Having held an email marketing job during my career, I know that it can be a thankless task at first but I was more successful with it as time went along reaching a 50% click rate. It’s a juggle of providing a good subject line and concise text, with some graphics, in the body. What really helped, I found, was naming a very well-known person in the organization, like the CEO or head of the Board. However, that has dangers too as I receive messages from one company with a name in it I don’t recognize in which case I almost delete it thinking it’s from a dodgy person.

Some companies do it right, and I will use Marks and Spencer as an example. Their emails come about once a week, that is the perfect frequency for me. They even ask me whether I want to opt out of receiving messages about Mother’s or Father’s day. Many companies bombard customers with selling items around those days when, especially during COVID, many lost their parents, so this could be upsetting to many as they cannot celebrate this time of year for the first time in their lives.

I have noticed some companies I never receive email from anymore, apart from the usual system ones like a) thank you for your order, b) your order has been sent, c) your order is out for delivery and d) your order has arrived. Probably, social media is actually more popular.

So, this would be the right email balance for me:

  • One marketing email per week is enough.
  • Don’t post too much content in the email, be short and concise. I don’t have time to read through several paragraphs. That goes for news summaries, post a couple of lines about the item and link me to a website for more information. Don’t waste my time with irrelevant rubbish in the email.
  • Don’t mislead customers, for example, financial institutions will send a message “You Are Pre-Approved” – well, we know they aren’t real, they still have to go through a process and be rejected. Just offer the customers a deal.
  • Emails have very little security, no matter how secure a system you think they are. Don’t include people’s account numbers and don’t say how much they owe or the cost of the current bill. I only know one company that does that to me, which is BC Hydro, and I can go and find this out when I log in securely to their website.
  • Tailor your messages as much as possible, providing opt-outs for certain content, so that clients are not receiving unwanted information that might lead them to unsubscribe.
  • Don’t put a human’s name in the From field unless you are sure your customers know who they are.

Email marketing is something that companies should absolutely get right, it’s not just about the company’s success but also about customers’ sanity. Campaign Monitor has some great resources for email marketing campaigns.

2022-06-20T17:35:44+00:0020 June 2022|Technology|