Books written by Ray Sullivan

Thursday, 28 November 2013

When Push Comes to Shove

I've fairly careful about what I subscribe to these days, if only to keep the junk email down to a manageable level.  I have a few sacrificial email accounts that I use when I'm really not sure I want to give out my main address and I'm generally selective anyway.  But inevitably most of the email I receive is junk, although it may come from sources I've provided my details to in the past.

Now I've noticed a bit of a trend starting up - it may have been around for years and maybe I never noticed, but I think this is recent.  When I open up my main emails account - bear in mind I'm on Windows 8 which is supposed to be pulling continuously, I notice that as soon as I start opening (or more likely deleting) the overnight emails certain emails start dropping in to my inbox.  At first I thought this could be a coincidence - or maybe my morning ablutions have become too predictable - but I've noticed that it's the same senders.  Groupon - who I generally delete without reading - seem to be the main culprits, but there are a few other tech orientated emails that also appear to drop in as soon as I start using my account.  I'm getting a whiff of Facebook and Amazon as well.

I can see the advantage of this for those trying to sell stuff.  If, when we wake up and browse our emails, we see an email drop in just as we start, before we lose our interest and start deleting everything that isn't actually important, then we may just read it.  It has a certain immediacy that the raft of spam that has built up overnight doesn't appear to have.  Wasted on me, as it happens, but I think marketers have written me off as a lost cause for years.

I don't know how this is being achieved - perhaps there's some collusion (for that read commercial agreement) between the sender and my email agent (Yahoo) or maybe there are cookies on my computer that detects when I start to interact with my email that sends a message out to Groupon HQ that Ray Sullivan is awake and interacting.  Cue klaxons, start bustle, send Sullivan the email offering pointless things he'll never buy - NOW.

But where will it all end?  Nobody in this commercial environment wants to be second in the sales race so I expect every man and his dog will be queuing up to jump on the band-wagon.  Then, when we get up in the morning our inboxes should be relatively clear - hooray - but as soon as we send the one email to aunt Mabel just brace - our collective inboxes will be hit with a deluge of spam that has been poised like the proverbial coiled spring all night just waiting, no- pleading - for us to wake up and open an email.  It's like the postman standing behind the gatepost with armfuls of letters, junk mail and parcels just waiting for the day we decide to open the front door to post a Christmas card (just the one from me this year, I'm afraid - the rest are e-cards).

And our response to a deluge of emails hitting us, spilling out of our inbox and into our cornflakes as we rush to get ready for work?  Mass delete on a grand scale.  Either that or we'll be too frightened to consider using email ever again.  Perhaps this is the Post Office having its revenge?  The sensible thing for marketers to do then would be to abandon the process and let their emails trickle in through the day and night, be seen in relative isolation and stand a chance of being opened and read.  Which is the only purpose they actually have.  But who will break ranks first?  That will be the question.  I'm guessing it won't be Groupon.

If you email me about this topic, or about any of my books, I will reply.  But if that reply drops in when you start using email, trust me, it's a coincidence.


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