I just completed a second round of unsubscribing from various kinds of automated marketing emails. The number of subscriptions I had shocked me. Some I signed up for myself. Others were pure spam.
Since I blogged about email simplification last Friday, I thought I should mention a couple of new discoveries.
You might need more than two hours. I said the process of consolidating and cleaning up email lists takes a couple of hours, depending on the amount of junk you get. I may have underestimated that. Going through my email archives, and monitoring two more days of incoming emails, I realize I missed a lot. You might need up to four hours to get everything.
You probably can’t do a complete email simplification in one sitting. First, you’re bound to miss some junk email on the first go-around. If you regularly empty your inbox, you’ll need to watch messages for up to a month to catch them all because not all junk is daily. Some newsletters come every three days, weekly, twice a month, whatever. And some follow no discernible pattern.
Second, many companies send junk email from several different addresses—different business units, different products, etc. This practice makes it hard for you to opt out of all their marketing messages. And that brings me to the heart of this message.
Companies, please don’t make it difficult for people to tune out your marketing intrusions. If a consumer wants to stop hearing from you, shut up, already. Forcing us to hear your pitch doesn’t make us like you any more. Think about it. If I’m sitting at my laptop at two in the morning unsubscribing to your email newsletter, I’m already tired of hearing from you. Making me jump through hoops won’t endear you to me.
And it’s not the small, mom and pop operations that handcuff customers. Two of the worlds largest computer companies, a leading business consulting firm (that rhymes with “booze”), and a few hotels throw around more emotional guilt than a couple going through a bitter divorce. One company made me fill out three forms to get off its stupid list. Others forced me to log in just to drop out. I half expected to need a notary for the consulting company.
If you love a customer, let him go. The easiest, cheapest way to do that is to use one-click unsubscribe. A customer chained in your basement isn’t loyal or engaged.
Here's what business leaders can do:
- Sign up for all of your company's emails--the newsletters, the alerts, the promotions, everything.
- Read them every day for a month to see how valuable you find the stuff you're sending out.
- After that month, sort your inbox by From, find your company's emails, and note the volume of email you've sent yourself.
- Unsubscribe from each subscription.
If you're one of the good guys, this won't take too long.
If, however, you find yourself calling for your executive assistant to fix the email mess you've made, make your next call to your Chief Marketing Officer, and fix the mess you made in my inbox, too.
*UPDATE* Lumosity.com, the brain game site, encoded a little trick to prevent you from unsubscribing. The unsubscribe URL is malformed. It begins http://links..email.lumosity.com/..., which returns an error--and not a 404. If you look closely, you'll see two, not just one, period between "links" and "email." To successfully unsubscribe, click the unsubscribe link in their email, then edit the URL to remove one of the periods, hit enter, and you're done.
- How to Make People Hate Your Email Newsletter (blogs.constantcontact.com)
- Listen and Learn When Customers Unsubscribe from Your Email List (community.constantcontact.com)
- Unsubscribe Me You Bully: 4 Common Email Marketing Mistakes that Lead to Unsubscribes (futurelab.net)
- Unlistr Pro 1.2 Makes It Easier to Bulk Unsubscribe Junk Email (themactrack.com)
- Permission Marketing Reduces Junk Mail And Increases Content Marketing (pr.typepad.com)
- I'm a fan of Unsubscribe Now (abreese.wordpress.com)