No Means No… Even in Email

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Ever tried to unsubscribe from an email newsletter? Of course. We all have. As someone who uses email marketing both for my company and my clients, I certainly don’t look forward to an unsubscribe, but there’s something much worse — being marked as spam. While a spam click certainly removes that person from my list, it can also do damage to my domain and my company’s reputation.

So that begs the question: why do so many email marketers do things that make me want to throw up my hands and just click that little spam button to get them out of my inbox?

Here’s a list of some things to avoid:

      • You like me, you must really like me! Just because I made travel reservations today or took out a credit card to get a deal with your company doesn’t mean I want a deluge of travel deals and product ads in my inbox. This stunt caused me to recently change my online travel site of choice. Signing me up because you can under the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t make your barrage welcome. Although it doesn’t meet the legal definition of spam, nonsense like this counts as spam to most of us. Better: send me one email and ask if I want more with an opt-IN, not an opt-OUT. And pre-checking the “please sign me up” box? Just no.
      • Don’t make me beg. For whatever reason, I’ve decided I don’t want your newsletter. So let me go easily. Many one-click sites ask me why I’m leaving after confirming I’m off the list, and I’ll sometimes take a minute to share feedback. However, if you make me do that as a part of the process to unsubscribe, you’ve just irritated me. You’re probably not going to like the feedback at that point. I should not be required to re-enter my email or tell you a story. Just a click should do the trick.
      • Fool me once… One newsletter I recently left had some very strange language that I had to read a couple of times to determine if I needed to check the box or uncheck the box to unsubscribe. Again, just no. I clicked unsubscribe. If you trick me into staying, my next step will be to assume you’re not managing your list, and I’ll happily give you the dreaded spam designation.
      • One click is plenty. Five is obnoxious. 20 makes me want to hit someone. I recently wanted to unsubscribe from a single newsletter. Turns out, that company has something like 20. When I clicked unsubscribe, I got a page with all of their newsletters that I had to individually uncheck in order to lose the one I wanted. Had I gotten that wrong, I would have not only removed the one, I would have gained the others. Spam times 20, and a pretty lousy customer experience.
      • Don’t make me your pen pal. If someone leaves my company, we forward their email for a period of time to make sure no important business-related information is missed. If there’s a subscription I have to respond to with “unsubscribe” in the subject, I can’t comply because it’s a forward. Guess what I do? I hit spam. There are far better ways to manage unsubscribe requests.

In the end, we’d all like every single missive we create to be eagerly anticipated, the simple fact is that the average subscriber receives an average of 416 commercial emails per month (according to Return Path). That’s a lot. Just because a customer doesn’t want emails from you doesn’t mean they won’t do business with you. In my case, I probably order something from Amazon — from dog food to cleaning supplies to electronics — at least once every week. I even have an Amazon credit card for the points — but I don’t receive a single email from them, and I’m fine with that. I know Amazon is there, it’s my go-to for anything I need to purchase, and they respect that relationship. If I started getting emails from Amazon every time I bought anything there — like most travel sites try to pull — I would probably have moved to another source by now.

In order to be effective, conversations — email or otherwise — must first be welcome. No means no, and it shouldn’t require inordinate effort on my part to get that message across.

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