Sunday, January 5, 2014

Declutter your Email Inbox: Is it time to Unsubscribe?

One of my new year resolutions is to take control over my Gmail inbox.  I have multiple email addresses aggregated in this central account to make it more convenient and efficient to manage my emails.  I like the Gmail tabs that automatically sort my email into Primary, Social, and Promotions.  It helps me beeline directly to my Primary emails first.   There are additional filters I can use to further organize emails that I do not need to read right away.  However, I still have hundreds of emails showing up daily.  That is the reason why I decided to start my “unsubscribe” process.  I’m on day 4 and it is not easy.

I’ve encountered many companies who make it a simple one-click process to unsubscribe and others who do not.   I find that curious as the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.  [The acronym CAN-SPAM stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-solicited Pornography and Marketing.]

 The CAN-SPAM Act came to mind recently when I read the headline about Jeffrey Killbride, one of the first spammers to be convicted and sent to prison under this act.  Killbride escaped recently from the minimum security prison in Lompoc, California.  He was on the loose for just over 24 hours.  According to Computerworld, he turned himself in on December 28th. 


Killbride and his partner, James Schaffer, were convicted of two CAN-SPAM violations in 2007.  Killbride received a 72-month sentence and Schaffer 63 months.  In addition they had to pay fines and forfeit the $1.1 million in ill-gotten gains.  Hefty consequences for the former spammers.



According to the FTC website, one of the main requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act includes “honor opt-out requests promptly.” The requirement specifically states honoring the request within 10 business days.  

I’m surprised at how many companies actually take the 10 business days to complete your opt-out request.  Many are major brands, including Best Buy, L.L. Bean, Office Depot and Coach.  If you look at the bottom of the Best Buy emails, you will be blinded by a sea of “legalese” before you find the unsubscribe link.

Some companies actually require you to enter your email address before unsubscribing.  I cringe when that happens.  I have to go back to the email, click on the “to” field to see which email address they had sent it to, and then go back to their form, type it in and then submit.  That’s a tedious process. This happened probably 1 in 10 times during the past 4 days while unsubscribing.

Other companies require you to “manage your preferences” and require you to read instructions to know whether you check or uncheck the select boxes to unsubscribe.  Some companies require you to check the box to unsubscribe, while others require you to uncheck the box to unsubscribe.  This is another hassle that came up frequently during my unsubscribing process.

Luckily, there are many companies that do an excellent job with a simple 1-click process.  A new browser window or tab opens up to reveal that the unsubscribe request has been successful.  I love this feature!  SafeUnsubscribe” is a feature from ConstantConnect that helps you unsubscribe instantly, without sending you a confirmation email that you have been unsubscribed.  

Retail giants Amazon and Target get an A+ for ease of opting out.  This efficiency reminds me why I will continue to be a loyal customer.  I don’t need an email to remind me to shop with these mega brands. I frequently purchase from them without solicitation. I don’t need an ad or promotion code to cause me to impulse buy. I do plenty of that on my own.

I’m including a few screenshots below to show what does and does not enchant customers during the Unsubscribe process.  Perhaps retailers believe if you unsubscribe you won’t purchase from them in the future?  Perhaps that is why they make it tedious to opt-out?  Who knows.  I would suggest that you make note of the difference in the brands that allow simple unsubscribe versus multi-step unsubscribe.  Is it time for you to declutter your inbox?


Enchants:
Amazon Prime - immediately unsubscribes
Target immediately unsubscribes

Amazon Local - immediately unsubscribes


Does Not Enchant:
BestBuy legalese - how long does it take you to find the unsubscribe link?




















Office Depot 10 days to opt out

Best Buy takes up to 10 Days to opt out












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