My e-mail inbox was so cluttered with newsletters, white papers, and marketing fluff that e-mail management—separating the real e-mail from the chaff—was an onerous, time-consuming chore. Last night, in a flash of brilliance, I realized I could streamline my e-mail management by simply unsubscribing from unwanted mailing lists. I attacked my inbox like Sherman through Georgia.
In most instances, unsubscribing only required me to click on an unsubscribe link. But sometimes I had to look long and hard to find that link. It was always at the bottom of the message. Sometimes it was below and even smaller than the small-print disclaimers and legal gibberish. But a few organizations made unsubscribing confusing, complicated, and time consuming.
Thank You for What?
Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I’d successfully unsubscribed. For example, at TMCnet, after clicking “Remove me from all of the eNewsletter and third party e-mails,” I got this message: “Thank you for subscribing to the freshest communications and technology Industry eNews.”
Unending Circuit City
Among the most annoying unsubscribes was Circuit City. The instructions on the unsubscribe page were unclear. At the top of the page, I was asked to “enter the email address you’d like to update.” I didn’t want to update it; I wanted to delete it. I was then offered the option of getting fewer e-mails (“only receive 1-2 e-mails per week”). Only after scrolling down to the bottom of the page, did I get to the “unsubscribe” button.
Circuit City was relentless. After clicking “unsubscribe,” I got a screen confirming my unsubscribe and offering me the opportunity to get its marketing materials via RSS! (“Don’t want the email but still want the deal?”)
Turning that offer down did not lessen Circuit City’s ardor. It sent an e-mail confirmation that once again offered me a chance to sign up for its RSS feed. But the last straw was a P.S. asking me to complete a short survey about why I was unsubscribing! (Circuit City do not darken my e-mail box again!)
It was complicated and time-consuming to unsubscribe from The Democratic Party’s e-mail updates. The unsubscribe page also had a large “Contribute” button and “Get Updates” field, which would re-subscribe me. (What part of opting out didn’t they get?) Even worse, after I entered my e-mail address to unsubscribe, a screen message asked me to enter a four-digit confirmation code that would be e-mailed to me in a few minutes. They don’t make it easy for you to become an unDemocrat!
Winnowing down my e-mails by unsubscribing was incredibly satisfying—like finally cleaning out the junk drawer. And the efforts bore fruit—a lean inbox this morning. I appreciate the ease with which most organizations let me unsubscribe. No hard feelings, and I’m open to doing business with you in the future. As for those that made unsubscribing difficult, there’s a lingering bad taste that will make it harder for me to reengage.
While I unsubscribed to lots of lists, I was also surprised by the number of newsletters and e-mails I wanted to continue receiving. Many organizations, I realized, provide useful and timely information that I welcome.
— Marilynne Rudick (guest blogger)