Lately, I’ve been trying hard to clean up my email inbox, to sort the wanted from the unwanted. I’m sick of being bombarded by emails from companies I once purchased from, companies I may one day purchase from, and tragically, companies I will never ever purchase from. Everyone is trying to sell me something. And, largely, I’m not buying it.

Sandwiched between all these sales messages are my personal emails; the email I really want to receive and read.

For the few instances where I am super dialed-in to the message, I welcome the uninvited intrusion of a merchant email. However, for the most part, I view the emails as just that, an uninvited intrusion. Timing is the critical. When 1-800-Contacts emails me near the end of the last prescription I purchased, I pay attention. When a retailer emails me every week after I bought my dad waterproof fishing gloves for Christmas, I get really irritated.

At one time, I evidently authorized to receive merchant emails. But, in many cases this authorization was a forgotten “opt-out” rather than a desired “opt-in”.

Unsubscribing is a real pain in the keister. The Unsubscribe link is generally an itty-bitty link buried at the bottom of emails. Sometimes, it is even disguised as “email preferences”. When I’m dealing with a legitimate business the unsubscription process is a hassle at best. It shouldn’t have to come to this!

My loyalty as a customer is earned. It’s an unfortunate downward brand enthusiasm spiral to go from the high of a purchase to annoyed disdain following months of email spam.

Four Practical Recommendations:
Format: Allow for customers to subscribe to receive updates in the format they prefer: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, or email. Rather than just email, as it is common today, have all options available in the path to purchase. If it were up to me, in most cases, I’d select Twitter. Retailers and charities should be able to construct a tweet to grab attention. And if they don’t, I can ignore it much more easily than I can an email.

Message: Allow for customers to select what types of communication they want to receive. For instance, I’m not interested in product updates, but I do care about sales. As a typical Gen X-er, I am suspicious of contests and would rather avoid them.

Frequency: When a customer selects to receive emails, also allow them to select the frequency of those emails. As it is today, most systems don’t allow you to down-grade the subscription to a lesser frequency until one is trying to unsubscribe all together. At that point, it may likely be to late to retain the customer. For the establishments that I use exclusively for gifts, it may be enough if they email me their holiday specials once a year.

Personal Data: When companies track shopping and purchase behavior, understand customers trade that knowledge for a deal, and/or more customized information. It is really irksome when personal information is collected and a company fails to better my experience as a shopper in any perceivable way.

There is a better way for a company to sell me what I want, how I want it and when I want it, especially when they collect personal data about my shopping and buying behavior. The last impression I have with your brand shouldn’t be clicking “unsubscribe”.


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