Dear Marketers Who Emailed Me While I Was At Burning Man:
One of the benefits of going to Burning Man is that I can be totally offline for several days. And since there is no marketing or branding allowed, I get a break from the constant messaging that washes over me daily. But everything comes to an end. So I wasn't surprised when I finally turned my phone back on and got hundreds of emails in my inbox. What did surprise me was how many I wanted/needed to read. By my rough calculations, less than 2%. As in, two out of every hundred.
To remedy this, I went through and unsubscribed from all the unwanted emails I got in the five days I was offline. My process was simple:
1. I unsubscribed using the sender's built-in functionality if available, Google's "unsubscribe" button next to the sender address, or in the worst cases, a filter to auto-delete.
2. I then deleted all emails I'd ever gotten from that sender.
I got two interesting results. First, when I took all the senders that sent me unwanted email last week, and then deleted all the emails they'd ever sent me historically, the total was over 6,000.
The second, and more interesting, is that most of the marketers who sent me an email last week sent me over three emails every week. Movie ticket vendors, movie theaters I went to from the movie ticket vendors, hotel loyalty programs, individual hotels within those loyalty programs, political fundraisers and retailers. They all sent me at least three emails a week, every week, in some cases for years.
I know it's hard out there for a marketer. How can you be sure when your customer needs to hear from you? How do you know which offer will stick? Aren't you doing your customers a service by keeping them informed? Since this is a grey area, I think I can help clarify with this simple rule of thumb:
There isn't a human being alive who wants your marketing emails three times a week.
If I filled out a petition for you two years ago, I don't want a fundraising email from you three times a week, every week, for two years. If I signed up for your service three years ago and canceled, why are you contacting me every week since then? If I created an account but have never bought a single item from you, shouldn't you hold back until I at least buy something?
Yes, I can unsubscribe. And I just did. But there is a bigger question to be asked. Do you (talking to marketers here) like your customers? I know you like us to buy/click/donate/join, which means you like us liking you, but from an empathy perspective, do you care about us? Or are the pressures to perform screaming so loudly that you cannot hear the quieter voice that whispers "This is insane! Why are we flooding these poor people with so much marketing?"
I'm not saying there should be no marketing. I'm not even saying that if I canceled your service two years ago, you shouldn't contact me over 100 times (that would be once a week) until I unsubscribe. I am saying that if you are selling a product or a service and you send me three emails a week, you are spamming me. You do not care about my well-being and you do not care about building a relationship with me. You want me to give you my money or time, and you are being relentless about it. Maybe not hardcore spamming, which would get you blocked by ISPs. But your intentions are the same. You are a softscore spammer. And I'd like you to stop. Thanks.