Every now and then I get added to some mailing list. Sometimes it is intentional. Very often it is by accident, and a lot of the time I end up spending unregistering from a mailing list.
As with anyone, I’ve encountered some good ways to manage mailing lists, and some very, very bad ways on managing mailing lists for end users. So, since I’ve just been on the receiving end of a poor mailing list un-subscription flow, I’ve decided to vent about my poor experiences.
Stop emailing me so often!
I had a discourse server set up once for a small community - the idea was that we would all have a bit of a natter there once social media became too much - a little social media refuge when social media and life got a bit too much.
The discourse software was fantastic, but the problem I had with it was that it kept sending emails.
Emails about what got posted. Emails about what didn’t get posted. Emails about traffic. It was all one email, but it was constant, predictable, and relentless. It made me absolutely hate my forum due to the constant email spam.
Worst thing was, I couldn’t turn it off due to it being an inbuilt mechanism when there was less than a certain number of users (I think it was either 50 or 500 users total). Either number was too much - this was quite literally a handful of friends who wanted a little place to hang out. Unfortunately, and ironically - due to this practice designed to promote growth™️ - the forum died out within weeks.
Allow me to unsubscribe
Outside of my discourse forum thing, it’s quite surprising that there are mailing lists out there that don’t offer this in a form of a link right at the bottom of the email. I get that some marketing folks don’t want people to opt-out of your mailing list easily, but what happens is that the emails get marked as spam.
If you provide a poor experience universally (such as not being able to opt-out of your mailing list) then lots of readers will mark the email as spam, and next thing you know your marketing emails will never reach your recipients - old or new - because of the lack of options.
And that’s what happened to my discourse emails. They ended up being marked as spam - either automatically or enough users reported it to be junk. Thanks, discourse. Luckily, my domain wasn’t considered spam because otherwise I would’ve been royally screwed.
Don’t tell me where you got my email from
So, this story about this music label and their marketing shenanigans is what prompted me to write this blog post in the first place.
Some random mailing company for some music label/band was sending me email. I believe they must’ve got it from Bandcamp, but I have no idea of knowing for certain.
I scroll down on the email and see ”why did I get this?” and… yeah. Why did I get this email?
So, I click on this link, and I get this wonderfully unhelpful message:
You were subscribed to this list because:
You are receiving this email because you signed up to be alerted when we have a new release available for pre-order.
Thanks pal. Real helpful
Easy to subscribe, hard to unsubscribe
OK so clearly, I’m not really digging this email if I’ve clicked this link. There is a nice “Unsubscribe” button that I would like to believe that once I click it, it would unsubscribe me from the mailing list. Then once that’s clicked, a nice possibility is for that button to change to “Subscribe” so I can click that link in the future and subscribe if I have a change of mind.
I click the button and I’m greeted with a “We’re sorry to see you go, if you can just confirm your email address for us then we can really unsubscribe you”
Why???? I clicked this link. It even knows my email address as it’s auto filled it in, and wants me to quickly confirm that, yes, I really want to unsubscribe from this email.
So, I click “Unsubscribe” again. The page tells me I’ve really unsubscribed this time.
Surely that’s the end of it…
Send up a follow-up email on the unsubscribe begging to resubscribe
So yeah. I got another email, this time letting me know that yes, the email address has absolutely been removed and that whole “Sorry to see you go” but if I press the pretty “Subscribe” button I could be back in their mailing list again.
OK, this needs to be said. Nobody likes these follow-up emails. It’s borderline harassment at that point. If I discover I was on a mailing list and it’s been a while since I heard from them, I expect to be able to go back to the oldest email I have, go to the link about “Update subscription preferences” and re-tick the appropriate mailing list.
I do not need a follow up asking if I really wanted to subscribe.
Keep it somewhat personal
Like I mentioned at the top, I do get added to mailing lists, and sometimes I keep on being added to the mailing list. The Darcula Theme mailing list is one of those examples.
I get that mailing lists are designed to be aimed at a wide audience and designed to appeal to as many people to get the message out but having a somewhat curated email tailored to a specific audience does wonders.
Going back to the Darcula Theme, it is pretty much about the product Darcula Theme Pro and all the updates and new things going on with that project. I’m not personally that invested, but there is a part of me that finds it cool to be updated occasionally about the rumblings that goes on in that space.
Use less words
I do feel like I’m the pot calling the kettle black for this given my verbosity on this website alone and my personal inability to shut up, but yeah - less words is nice.
People will argue that this is the age of Twitter where everything must be boiled down to 140 (280?) characters and I understand the feeling there, but that’s not my issue.
For me, a lot of the times when I check my email, I’m just giving it a quick glance so I can figure out what to ignore, what to come back to later, and what to act now.
Drowning me in nothing but words right out of the gate makes my brain go ”… no. I’m not doing this today. I’m not entertaining this email”.
I’m not looking for the news or any heavy reading in my inbox - that can be for later as a call to action for me to click on and read on your site. My inbox is really for (in priority order):
- Simple but urgent requests
- Complicated yet urgent requests
- Simple requests that can wait a while
- Complicated requests that can wait a while
- Probably rubbish
If your email doesn’t meet the first 4, then it’s number 5. If it’s too wordy, that means I’ll be itching to unsubscribe so I can leave my inbox for the first 4 types of emails. Polite, brief emails get to stay although they may not get a full read.