Email is still the #1 marketing and communication channel

The “death of email” fad is over a decade old. It is wrong. Email is still key to marketing and communications (marcom).

“Death of email” supposes people move to other platforms. The “other platforms” part isn’t wrong. Social media platforms barely existed a decade ago, and now they are widely used. The “move” part is what’s wrong.

Email is effective

Email’s first strength: it reaches more people than any other platform.

If you search on this, two facts emerge:

  • Email is by far the #1 tool, measured by percent of people using it.
  • The pandemic has significantly increased email utilization.

Effective email communications should be a marcom starting point.

Other platforms

Email’s other strength: it’s a single platform.

Think about social media: some are on Facebook, some are on Twitter, some are on Instagram, some are on other platforms. Effective marcom on social media requires you to cross-post to several platforms. That’s a chore!

Other platforms can be secondary

For all important communications, email should be primary. That means what you need to communicate, or a link to this information, must be in an email. Other platforms must be secondary.

Want to also convey information over Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.? Go for it! Just be consistent and thorough with what you do. If a social media platform’s users become satisfied with communications over it, they may pay less attention to emails.

Exceptions

Targeted or non-important communications? Do what makes most sense. A geofenced communication to find prospects may make sense exclusively on social media.

What about communities that are simply part of a social-media platform, such as Facebook groups? In that case, using social media as the primary or even exclusive communications tools could make sense.

Finally, your organization may have a practice of using selected platforms for communications. For communicating with affiliates, exclusive use of the selected platforms could be fine. This assumes enough of your affiliates are willing to watch for information on that platform.

Summary

Email is the dominant communication platform. Allegations of change have been hoaxes.

For typical marketing and communications, email-first should be the rule. If it’s important, it must be in an email. Other platforms are generally best for complementing emails.

Android is better than iPhone

UPDATE (the next day): I scored each of the 17 reasons why Android is better than iPhone (and four areas where iPhone is better), and the net score tells me to keep the iPhone.

I don’t understand why people like the iPhone so much. After 10 days, I am unimpressed. I wrote about my experience at iPhone is inferior to Android.

I’ve switched back to my Pixel 4 XL. If I don’t miss the iPhone in a couple of days, I’ll return it.

Google files: easy to overshare!

Do you want the whole world to see your shared Google files? It’s easy to make this mistake. You can avoid by only sharing with people who have Google accounts. Here’s how.

When viewing a Google file, on the top right is a Share button. Click on it to open the Share with others dialog. That is where you share your file.

In this dialog, if you use the Get shareable link feature, you made a link that anyone can use to see your file:

Share with others dialog with link sharing enabled

Anyone with that link can see this file!

Oh, you only emailed that link just to one trusted friend? What if his email is hacked? What if he shares the link, even accidentally? Suppose the link ends up where Google’s search engine can see it? The file will be in Google’s public search!

Fixing this is easy. In the Share with others dialog, click the Anyone with the link… dropdown, select OFF, then click Done.

Another way to over-share is when you add people. Let me be clear: it’s more secure to add people instead of sharing a view link. When you add people, the person you shared with gets a link to the document, but Google won’t allow viewing unless the person is signed in with the account you shared the link to. If the recipient shares the file’s link with someone else, that other person cannot view the document!

A catch: the people you share with must have Google accounts.

Watch this. It shows what happens when you share with someone without a Google account:

What happens when you share a Google file with someone who doesn’t have a Google account

Did you see this text: “Link sharing is ON. Anyone with the link can view” Don’t use that! If someone doesn’t have a Google account, then Google has no way to know if that person is who is viewing the file. Therefore, it sends the same kind of link mentioned above: it lets anyone view the file!

What does “Google account” mean? It is an account used to sign in to Google systems. The account name is the person’s email address. People with Gmail addresses already have a Google account. People with other email addresses may set up a Google account at https://accounts.google.com/SignUp.

How to avoid sending a view link: When you share to people who don’t have Google accounts, always select the Send an invitation option. With that, the recipient gets an invite to set up a Google account. Until that is done, the link won’t let the recipient view the file.

Samsung S7’s firmware-version eFuses

Recently, I discovered that with the Samsung S7, you can’t downgrade certain firmware versions.

These are firmware releases for Sprint’s branded Samsung S7, the SM-G930P (P means Sprint). Note the number in the yellow column:

List of Sprint S7 firmware versions (source)

In late November, I was on the QJ3 update (last three digits of firmware). Its number is 5.

I tried to switch to the SM-G930U firmware. That would make my S7 an unlocked phone, which should free it of Sprint-specific customizations.

At the time, the latest Sprint-compatible* SM-G930U firmware was G930UUEU4BQJ5. Note the 4! When I tried to install that, I got an error saying that the version I am trying to install is lower than the fused version. This was the error:

SW REV CHECK FAIL : [ABOOT]FUSED 5 > BINARY 4

Note that “ABOOT” means the Android bootloader. This is a small, critical piece of software that kicks off everything else when you start the phone. The yellow-highlighted number in the above picture is in fact the bootloader version!

On the S7, Samsung has eFuses that indicate the bootloader version. When enough eFuses are tripped for bootloader version 5, I can’t install bootloader version 4. When an eFuse trips, the circuit permanently changes. I can’t un-set these eFuses.

Samsung’s eFuses became notorious in the custom ROM community a few years ago. Samsung’s Knox security would trip a warranty fuse if you installed unauthorized firmware. You can’t reset the warranty fuse. Warranty fuse-tripped phones work fine, but there are anecdotal reports of Samsung refusing warranty service due to tripped warranty fuses.

This firmware change didn’t trip the Knox warranty fuse. It’s because all US-market Samsung S7 phones are hardware-identical: the only difference between Sprint, AT&T, unlocked, etc. S7s are the software! All Samsung- or carrier-issued firmware types, intended for the US market, are Samsung-authorized on any Samsung S7.

Back to the story: When you install firmware on Android phones, you are installing four pieces of software: the bootloader, modem (handles the cell network communications), Android core software, and carrier- and region-specific Android customizations. It turns out this version lockout doesn’t stop you from installing older modem software. Due to my determination, I managed to install older SM-G930U (unlocked) modem software. I was still on current-version SM-G930P (Sprint-branded) for everything else. Because of that version mismatch, I got security warnings:

Samsung S7 security warning, for when part of your firmware has a version mismatch

The phone still worked fine.

Why didn’t I just get the newer firmware and be done with it? No download site had QJ3 despite it being out for a few weeks!

About a week later, I could download the correct firmware. I installed it, and everything went back to a happy state. I’ve since installed two more over-the-air updates from Sprint with no problems.

*I don’t understand why an “unlocked” phone has carrier-specific variants! Isn’t unlocked supposed to mean “not carrier-specific”? Here are SM-G930U variants (source):

  • Bluegrass Cellular (LRA)
  • Nextech / C-Spire (ACG)
  • Sprint (cdma) (SPR)
  • Tracfone (TFN)
  • USA (TMK)
  • USA (USC)
  • USA (AT&T) (ATT)
  • USA (T-Mobile) (TMB)
  • USA (Verizon) (VZW)
  • Unknown (AIO)
  • Unknown (BST)
  • Unknown (XAA)
  • Unknown (XAS)
  • Virgin Mobile USA (VMU)

Moto X Pure Edition (2015) + Sprint = no roam?

I have the Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2105). It’s a great value, it’s unlocked, and it works on all major cell networks.

The phone worked great until this weekend. I went to Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, TX for a campout with my Cub Scout pack. (I am Cubmaster.)

Glen Rose is in the middle of a large Sprint coverage gap, but at least there’s voice roaming:
Sprint in Glen Rose, TX
(from Sprint’s Coverage Check page)

And here’s the data coverage, which is “off-network roaming”:
Sprint data in Glen Rose, TX(from Sprint’s Coverage Check page)

The data roaming is only in theory. When I crossed into the roaming zone (westbound US 67 east of Glen Rose), I only had voice, no data.

Later that night, perplexed at the lack of data, I reviewed my phone’s roam settings. In the settings, I hit More under Wireless & networks, then Cellular networks. Here’s the dialog (notice the empty signal indicator to the left of the battery indicator):
Moto X cellular network settings

Below is what you see when tapping on System select:
Moto X system select

I changed this from the default Automatic to Home only. Predictably, the roam network disappeared. Changing back to Automatic, the roam network was still gone! Power cycling the phone had no effect.

What?

The Preferred network type dialog had no effect. Here’s its default setting:
Moto X preferred network type

None of the other settings had any effect. I also tried toggling the Data roaming slider, but it had no effect. That makes sense because the phone detected no network anyway.

Somehow I got this alternate settings screen. I do not remember how I got that. Regardless, it had no effect. Here it is:
Moto X available networks

Sometimes I got a version of this that had two Extended Network selections:
Moto X available networks (two Extended Network selections)

Clicking on any Extended Network selection on either version of this settings screen had the same effect. You first see this for a while:
Moto X registering on extended network

Then you see this:
Moto X cannot connect

I also explored the Search networks and Choose automatically settings, but neither had any effect. The presence of Extended Network at the bottom makes it look like the phone in fact saw a network.

Ultimately, I got no cell access for the weekend. When we went home, I got an avalanche of text messages between Glen Rose and Cleburne. (They were alerts from an unprecedented IT outage at my employer.)

Did I need to update my phone’s preferred roaming list (PRL). I think no. First, if my PRL was bad, I wouldn’t have gotten any roaming as I traveled to Glen Rose. With the current PRL, I should have at least had voice the entire weekend. Second, I activated this phone just 13 days prior to the trip. Since the phone is unlocked and carrier agnostic, it would have to update its PRL upon activation. Even if an old PRL was buried in the phone, the lack of Sprint access at Glen Rose is not new, so a very old PRL ought to work fine.

What do I do? Is the Moto X unable to reliably roam if Sprint is my network? Have Motorola or Sprint acknowledged a bug?