Those of us who use the Internet to send marketing materials run the risk of sending unwanted emails – SPAM – to our distribution list. Sometimes it’s inadvertent – people sign up for all sorts of things they later decide they don’t want and often people sign up their friends or relatives without telling them. Sometimes it’s on purpose – plenty of companies send spam to anyone they’ve come into contact with and even harvest names and addresses for later use with no thought to whether their recipients actually want the materials.
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So for companies and individuals who are looking to build their brand online, it’s crucial to handle spam requests properly. Even though most distribution companies include a big fat “UNSUBSCRIBE” button on their mailings, lots of recipients of spam still hit “reply” and ask to be removed from the list. Many of these requests are civil. Some are not. If I shared the less friendly unsubscribe requests I’ve received they would curl your hair.
Different mail distribution companies (MyEmma, Listrak, Constant Contact, and their ilk) have systems and protocols for reducing spam but most of them rely on the honor system, requesting and requiring their clients to only send materials to addresses that have opted in. These requirements are not foolproof – a quick calculation of the volume of spam you receive proves this.
But the real key for marketers is to make the unsubscribe process as simple and friendly as possible. One of the easiest ways is to require nothing more from the unsubscriber than a mouse click – simply click one button and you’re done. A second way is to respond with a personal note, apologizing for the imposition and confirming the unsubscribe. In my experience, the later scenario can even result in a re-subscription request. Apparently people are so surprised to find that someone has actually read and processed their spam request that they give the sender a second chance.
That’s why I was so stunned to receive this response after I clicked on the “unsubscribe” button on a local university’s mailing. I have removed their identification to protect the ham-fisted but didn’t change anything else.
“If you do not wish to receive further fundraising communications from UNIVERSITY, please send your request by email to the following address: Development@UNIVERSITY or telephone the appropriate individual below. Please provide us with your name, phone number, and physical address, so that we may respect your wishes not to receive further fundraising communications. Only complete requests can be processed. You may receive additional communications while your request is processed.”
Can you believe it? Not only did they send unsolicited spam, but they’ve requested that I stop what I’m doing to call them or send them an email and provide all my contact information so they can respect my wishes.
I might understand this if it was a third-world scam phishing expedition trying to steal my data – a Nigerian oil bonanza or a fake bank application perhaps – but this was from one of Miami’s most prestigious universities.
Kinda makes you wonder what they teach in their marketing classes, huh?
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