Soaring Soapbox: I Can’t Unsubscribe

Soaring Worldwide creative director Adam Baggs is on his soapbox following a recent purge with the unsubscribe button.

I am having a bit of a purge – rather than just hitting delete I am taking the time to remove/unsubscribe myself from spurious and irrelevant newsletter and direct mailings. This includes the many promotional emails I receive from various organisations I have purchased goods from over the years. It is a tedious process but already my inbox is clearer and I have probably halved the number of emails I receive in any given day.

But one email managed to both annoy and humour me at the same time. Firstly there was no option to unsubscribe, an issue in its own right, so instead I sent a quick response to the sender “please unsubscribe”. My email was rejected by their server due to content – it was rejected as sales related spam! And this is where my mood started moving from frustration to humour. Their outgoing email is so badly written that their own server dislikes the content when included in a reply. Aside from the irritation it causes me and the inevitable likelihood I will never leave their database – should someone (unlikely as it is) actually be interested in the service they are offering, they will not be able to email the sender requesting further information!

Chances are high that you are reading this due to a link from either our social media or newsletter. If it is the latter you will find several opportunities to remove yourself from further communications should that be necessary. In the UK and many other countries it is in fact a legal requirement but I also think it is common courtesy. Recipients of any newsletter or digital communication should be someone you know, have worked with, met – at the very least you should be able to reasonably explain why they are on the list, why the communication is relevant to them etc. But let’s face it, accidents happen, databases age and a few people slip through the net that you probably should not be mailing. That’s not a problem as long as you do the decent thing and give them the opportunity to unsubscribe.

A newsletter or digital mailing should be just one part of a strategic communications plan, not something you rely on so heavily that you will lose customers if they miss out on your regular mailings. I for example unsubscribed from both John Lewis and Cotswold Outdoors this morning – not because I plan to stop using them but because I don’t need the constant reminders. They have both done such a great job in the past, offered great service and reach out to me often enough through other media and marketing activities that I don’t need their latest e-blast to remember them next time I need something they sell.

I do appreciate the psychology of the situation and the fact that retailers want me to see the offers on products I didn’t think I needed (or even knew existed) until they offered it half price in an email. However, this is where marketeers need to make a decision, too much, too generic, too often is as likely to make you switch off to a brand as great service and products will keep you coming back without constant reminders.

As for the idiots that sent me an email their own server rejects – maybe I should give them a call and offer to write it for them…