Email Subscription Gray Tactics

There’s bad advice going around.

That’s my conclusion after seeing the same thing over and over and over again.

A lot of us who make it a point to meet people, share cards and share connections are suffering from the over-aggressive email marketers.

There are actual laws on the books to help prevent SPAM. This means we, as newsletter and content creators, should be EXTRA careful about ensuring only those people who actively, freely and willingly sign up for our newsletters receive that content.

And yet here we are in 2014. And my inbox is bursting with newsletters I never even considered. My email address has been abused and in some cases, my friendship and good will have been obliterated. 

One connection does not make for an open house.

I’m sure some people don’t notice when a Twitter friend “helpfully” adds them to a newsletter subscription list. So the offending marketer decides ALL friends would appreciate the same content.

But relationships are all about respect. If we stop respecting how others want to interact with us, then the relationship is doomed.

  • The offending ways I personally have been added to newsletter lists is both irritating and, in many cases, completely in violation of the terms of use of their newsletter distribution service.

  • I’ve given my business card at an event and been bombarded by newsletters completely unrelated to me or my business.

  • Twitter contacts ask me to sign up for the newsletter, but don’t wait for an answer before doing it for me.

  • One of the most recent offenders included this line at the end of the newsletter: “We are connected professional on LinkedIn.” SO MUCH WRONG with this, and not just the lazy grammar. Just because we are connected on LinkedIn doesn’t provide my permission.

It’s obvious when you see me as a lead, rather than as a connection.

The best parts of social media are the ways it allows us to connect, discuss and engage with various people. Those virtual relationships can become real and powerful. But if getting me on your email subscription list is more important than connecting with me in a real way, I’m not going to want to invest in understanding who you are.

I know I’m not alone in finding these behaviors annoying at best and damaging at worst. I DO subscribe willingly to those who provide content I think is valuable. And I understand the desire to increase an email subscriber base. It’s hard work to grow that list organically. We struggle with that all the time. But by focusing on content and inviting people to join us, we’re growing our list bit by bit by sometimes painful bit. That’s ok. The right people will find us.

And those aggressive email meanies can keep their tactics and their big, meaningless lists.

Image Credits: pandemia, Son of Groucho via Creative Commons

Jeannie Walters is the Chief Customer Experience Investigator™and founder of 360Connext, a global customer experience consulting firm. She was recently recognized on the Huffington Post as one of “The Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pros On Twitter.”  Tweet her at @jeanniecw.