Unsubscribing from an email list should, in theory, be a very simple task. I click a link and boom, I’m unsubscribed.

Lately, I’ve noticed a few sites handle unsubs in a way that really irks me. Back in the day, I signed up for some email thing at Wendy’s. The reason why escapes me at the moment, but they only send me things occasionly. As part of my push to rid my inbox of unnecessary stuff (been reading Power of Less), I decided that I no longer wanted to get emails from Wendy’s. I enjoy your salads, but don’t want your emails. At the bottom of the email, was an unsubscribe link. Here ’tis:

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I clicked on the link, and got taken to a web page. For most emails I receive, that one click is enough to get me off the list. Sometimes, my email address is shown and I can choose what types of communications I want to receive or which lists I want to be removed from. Wendy’s does none of that. They force me to manually enter my email address in twice. As always, click for a larger version.

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On one hand, it’s probably a good marketing move. When I saw that, I didn’t want to take the time to complete the form and thus I would remain on their list. Then I was annoyed enough to take screenshots and write a blog post.

What can higher ed learn from this? Sometimes people, be they prospective students, current students or alumni, want to be taken off an email list. We need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Sure, it stinks we can’t communicate with them any longer via email, but making the unsubscribe process simple and easy will hopefully allow them to leave with a positive feeling and, who knows, maybe come back and subscribe again.

uStream has launched a new private label live and stored video streaming service, which they call Watershed.

Watershed is a white-label video solution that gives you access to all of uStream’s features and tools, but with your own branding, both in the video as well as the page around the video. Watershed says they can also stream 16×9 and HD content.

They cite education as a potential use, saying:

For colleges and universities the possible ways to use Watershed are nearly endless. Broadcast class lectures and campus speakers both internally and externally…Conduct a live interview with admissions office personnel as part of an open house…Connect with alumni worldwide via on-campus speakers and events…Deliver live broadcasts of athletic games and coaches’ media interactions.

For online education organizations, Watershed can be used to broadcast live lectures and have students ask questions in real-time. In addition, by using Watershed all of the live broadcasts can be recorded for future viewing as well. And don’t forget about Watershed for admissions open houses and alumni events.

For organizations focused on training and teaching, Watershed can be used to deliver seminars, demonstrations, and customer support in real-time. Audiences can ask questions via text and instructors can adjust their broadcast in response to audience feedback.

Pricing for the new product seems straightforward. For under 1,000 viewer hours a month, you pay $1 per hour. The price goes down the more hours you use. If you stream 1,500 hours a month at $0.75 USD per viewer hour, you would pay $1,125 that month. You get 500GB of storage included. You also get access to their API, which is interesting. I would this would be useful if you did in fact want to stream something like a lecture and wanted to make starting up the stream as easy as possible.

Streaming events at uStream is free, but if you really want to have a stronger say over the look and feel of the presentation, Watershed may be for you.

I’ve had good experiences with the uStream platform, as I’ve blogged about here.

qrcodeThis week, Educause released a PDF article about QR Codes. What are these codes? Here’s a snip from the article:

QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that can contain any alphanumeric text and that often feature URLs that direct users to sites where they can learn about an object or place (a practice known as “mobile tagging”). Decoding software on tools such as camera phones interprets the codes, which are increasingly found in places such as product labels, billboards, and buildings, inviting passers-by to pull out their mobile phones and uncover the encoded information.

These codes, popular in Japan, allow users to use a device, most often their cell phone camera, at a QR Code and be given information, such as a URL to visit or some other information.

While the article deals with the pedagogical uses or these codes, I think there are many possible uses on the marketing side as well.

I think it will eventually be a great resource for prospective students. For example, lets say that tomorrow we send them a postcard telling them the due date for applications is coming up. On that postcard, you include text and a URL for your online application urging them to apply. It requires the user to enter in the address manually.

In the future, perhaps we will send students a postcard urging them to apply with a QR or other 2d barcode image on it. They point their phone or mobile device at it (or hold it up to the camera in their netbook) and they are instantly taken to your application. In fact, I’ve mocked up a sample to show you what that could look like. 2 caveats: I’m not a graphic designer in any sense and the picture is from Selwyn College in Cambridge.

QR Code Example

Click for a larger version.

If you’re tracking your conversions closely, you should know these URLs can contain all sorts of analytics data, so you would be able to get very reliable information about response rates, perhaps better then using other redirect techniques.

While the technology is ready for use today, you may not be at a point where it would make sense to introduce these types of codes. When I think about where mobile technology will be in two years, I think there will be demand for it. Today’s 14-year-olds will be starting their college searches before you know it.

Resources:
Online, free QR Code Generator
2D Sense, iPhone app that will read QR Codes
NeoReader