The Joy of Hitting Unsubscribe
I’m a marketer. Be it from the PR side or the journalism side (as I play both at times), I am ever fascinated by how companies promote. Back in the 90s, the option was direct mail (lots of postcards and shiny brochures). Then came the Internet. I remember doing my first online newsletter in about 2003 through a service called Campaigner. I sent out news and samples of my recent photography work to emails I had gathered from everyone I knew. Once I hit the send button, magic happened. That one newsletter landed in the inbox of hundreds of people at the same time. I literally felt butterflies knowing that for one split second, hundreds of people were thinking of me and seeing my images. Here is my most recent newsletter .
Campaigner gave me immediate stats and I could compulsively hit refresh to know moment-by-moment how many people opened it and who clicked on any of the links. Without fail, those newsletters always resulted in at least a few calls and one or two jobs. That justified the 10 hours it took to assemble all the images and links into those early, clunky emailing services.
Sending promotions by newsletter was novel in the early to mid 2000s. People were excited by colorful emailed advertisements and my stats were consistently around a 30% open rate, which is high for these type promotions. I also saved a lot of cost in printing and postage of all those postcards. Clients liked to see the newsletters too, as it was a way to show their work (I always linked to their site and credited the creatives who hired me), which created good will and gave me credibility for working with big names.
As I traveled through my days, I signed up for other people’s newsletters occasionally, but more often than not, they signed me up after receiving my business card or after I bought something and they collected my email. And so, without intending to do it, I found myself inundated with newsletters. Everyone from Macy’s and Banana Republic (who sends A LOT of promos) to The Four Seasons and Harper’s Bazaar was emailing me. I would wake to 40 or so newsletters daily. Just in the time I’ve written this piece, I hear the ding of four more newsletters (RetailMeNot, Tory Burch, dot429 and Imagekind).
My habit became to roll over first thing in the morning and delete them all off my iPhone. Gasp – I know as a marketer, I hate to hear that my beloved newsletter went directly to the trash along with Nordstrom and Samy’s Camera emails. The joke became that I was just checking my spam because how I began to perceive all those solicitations as unwanted. Truth be told, I am interested in most the companies who are sending me their newsletter, however I don’t have the time to read all that content nor the interest to shop (which is mostly what they want you to do) at that moment.
Recently I have started to take a different approach. Instead of routinely hitting delete to the same newsletters, I have begun to unsubscribe. Typically that option is buried in the bottom right side of the promotion and by law, they have to allow you to opt out of the mailing. All the big promotional services have an unsubscribe button. While I experience a tiny pang of guilt knowing that some marketing person will receive all those unsubscribes with a sinking feeling, I also know I’m regaining control of my inbox. It takes time to delete all those unwanted messages and much like the magazines that stack up on my coffee table, they start to feel like dreadful homework.
And so I’m becoming more discriminating with what I decide to receive. And I’m trying to actually read the newsletters I choose to keep. I’m also learning that when people unsubscribe to my newsletter (which I hope you don’t!!) that it’s not personal. It may just be an indication that they too are inundated and deciding to clean house.
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