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Opted In vs. Engaging In May 7, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, digital strategy, marketing.
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I was having a chat this morning with Simon Chen, and those readers who’ve been with me a while know I can’t say enough good things about the man – even if he doesn’t get Twitter yet. One thing we were talking about was having a large email database vs. a smaller database that was actively engaged by your offering.

I was reminded of this while reading Doc Searl’s blog just now, him talking about a piece Chris Anderson (editor at Wired) wrote on recognising a real if untraceable cost that stems from subscription cards placed in magazines:

They fall out of magazines when you pick them up, forcing you to bend over to retrieve them and find a trash can in which to throw them away. This is a real negative cost that hurts our relationship with our readers, but because we can’t measure it directly, it’s an externality and thus mispriced at zero in the economics of the magazine industry.

I find it particularly ironic blogging about this given I’ve just started writing for a magazine which, like most other publications on the planet employs just such a method for adding subscribers. The example Chris gives above is admittedly minor, but flows on to a brilliant presentation from David Armano on micro-interactions.

In his presentation David argues brands have moved from dictating perception to being the sum of their interactions. In other words, you can no longer tell people how to perceive your work, you will be judged on actions and not words.

So what’s the follow on from subscription cards being removed from magazines? Do publishers and editors really think their offering is valid enough to drag people to a news stand once a month? Do they feel the caliber of their contributors (and I’m one of them) is great enough to make that happen?

For a lesson in micro-interactions outside of a marketing space, read this article from Fast Company on the future of TV shows and the branding around them. If there’s anyone who understands micro-interactions, its these guys.

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