Tue, July 13, 2010
I don’t think I’m the only one who’s begrudgingly relinquished my email address in order to access some content or buy stuff from some website only to receive a steady stream of unwanted emails from said website or its ‘carefully selected partners’. I know there’s probably a box to tick if you don’t not want to not have emails not sent to you, but they’re easy to miss and can be tricky to interpret, especially when all you want to do is get your stuff.
So when these emails start arriving, perhaps a few iterations are mildly interesting, then they just get plain annoying – deleted instantly on their arrival. I’m not talking about spam emails, everyone receives the odd email from Nigerian businessmen or ‘pharmaceutical’ retailers, but on the whole, email clients are getting pretty good at stopping spam getting though to our inboxes.
This brings me to the point of this particular rant: all email clients have a ‘Mark as Spam’ button which will prevent any emails from a particular sender/domain or with certain keywords in the subject/body from getting through in the future. Smashing. Quick, easy, one click.
So, how about a ‘Unsubscribe Me’ button which would send a message back to the sender saying wants to stop receiving this email, please remove this address from your database - or even better it could remove it automagically.
I think I’m right in saying that any bulk emails sent must contain an unsubscribe link, but this is often obscure and the destinations of these links aren’t consistent: some ask for your email again, some a password (chances are you haven’t a clue what this is), some you need to read more riddles and tick new boxes. It’s just messy and off-putting.
I don’t think an unsubscribe standard is the biggest leap of faith – technologically speaking anyway. I’d say all this requires is a common API which all email marketing providers and email clients alike adopt. Perhaps the marketers wouldn’t be too keen, as it’d make it too easy for people to stop receiving their guff but in the end, isn’t the consumer always right? User privacy is a big deal and I suspect online agencies would do all they can to appease consumers.
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