of emails and newsletters, and thoughts on blogging

I was trying to find online the recently coined phrase for those emails that aren’t spam, but also are notes from friends, or business communiques either.  I couldn’t find the term but along the way found some interesting flotsam. 

I read about eyetracking studies that reveal how users read individual newsletters online. The study showed that the average time allocated to a newsletter after opening it was only 51 seconds. “Reading” is not even the right word, since participants fully read only 19% of newsletters. The predominant user behavior was scanning. Often, users didn’t even scan the entire newsletter: 35% of the time, participants only skimmed a small part of the newsletter or glanced at the content. These are alarming for the marketing folks who spend days or weeks compiling these communications.  More interesting perhaps, is the actual images the researchers published of eyetracking heat maps, below images of a reader’s eye pattern on a newsletter and website, respectively. 

newsletter_heatmap         eyetracking_corporate_site_about_us

Also in my never-ending quest for fun marketing words, I found Linkrot: What happens when links go bad over time, either because a Web site has shut down or a site has stopped supporting a unique landing page provided in an email promotion. 

Finally, I learned about three types of email users, as defined by Nathan Black. Type A users delete everything fairly quickly and never hit their mailbox-size ceiling, so administrators generally don’t need to worry much about them. The two other types store messages for future use, either because the messages contain some business value (Type B) or because they answer a question that will probably come up again (Type C). Type B users are fairly organized; they use some kind of folder structure to make it easy to locate items, filing messages by project name, for example. Their mailboxes might grow steadily, but they seldom contain nonbusiness mail. Type C users are disorganized. Their Inboxes may have 1000 or more items, including daily newsletters from a year or two ago, and their mailboxes grow rapidly. Type C users appear to comprise only about 10 percent of the population. 

Or by another taxonomy classification developed by pendanticist of WebmasterWorld, I must determine if I’m a magpie (one who files their messages carefully), an ostrich (feeling so overwhelmed by information that I ignore new messages) or a squirrel (amassing huge amounts of email, refusing to get rid of old messages just in case they might need them.  

I’m mostly a Type B Magpie with squirrelly tendencies, but it’s quite time consuming, the manual purge as thing are deemed obsolete. 

Published in: on October 23, 2007 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

In living color…of leprechauns and peacocks

I stumbled on a phase in Wikipedia the other day– peacock terms which are essentially fluff words padded into entries there which “merely show off the subject of the article without imparting real information. ‘Peacock terms’ are named because of the mating sequence of the male peacock which shows all of its coloured feathers whilst trying to court with a female. This is because of the analogy about showing everything, but not telling anything.”

I remember being unleashed in college with a Roget’s Thesaurus in hand, trying to pump up the volume of my theme papers with more fanciful verbiage. Sometime I did actually unearth some ideas that splintered off my original concepts by the process of association that words bring, with their lovely nuances of meaning revealing slightly different hues like an iridescent June bug in natural light. I probably learned a few, and also acquired a few word in my vocabulary that I’m still trying to pin down the meaning of. The years preceding college found me with my fellow honors English students in Mr. Paul and Mrs. whatshername-with-the-cats-eyes-glasses’ classes during 10th and 11th grades bolting down lists of 100 new vocabulary words each week.

If you stay alert, you can observe some pretty funny things. In South Florida, which I’ve called home for around three decades, I am still amused when a kindly Hispanic lady like the cleaning lady in our office building, old enough to be my mother, replies in return to my greeting, “you too, Mamma.” This is a peculiarity of the Cuban community, where Mamma, or Poppi, is an affectionate phrase and kids in their “tweens” use the term of endearment for each other with role-playing earnestness when they start going steady. I also had a silent chuckle just a minute ago, as I did some online bill paying, and then entered “water and sewer” in my Gmail address book. Upon saving the contact, Gmail then enthusiastically noted: “No messages from Water & Sewer. Send Water & Sewer a message!”  I think I’ll pass on an email dialog with Water & Sewer; I’ve already got an old  friend who routinely routes the occasional questionable bathroom humor email!

Published in: on October 15, 2007 at 6:05 pm  Leave a Comment