Why the “Unsubscribe” link’s my new best friend

Are newsletters the face of TMI –too much information?

I must have subscribed to more than I could have handled over the past decade. I’m pretty certain that I was tricked into some of them, too. The odd thing is I love newsletters, and weekly digests. But there comes a time when I just can’t cope with the torrent of the ‘This Just In’ and ‘Today’s Top Stories.’ There’s another problem with e-newsletters. Many have begun to abuse/misuse the opt-in. They often send me duplicates (maybe it’s a glitch), or something that’s a thinly veiled sales pitch.

So over the past week I’ve probably hit the unsubscribe button about two dozen times. For those e-newsletter services that have been slow to purge me from their databases, I’ve happily created a filter to make that happen, and skip my inbox.

Have you had a similar experience, or is it just me? I admit I’ve become ruthless about keeping my inbox to no more than 10 messages deep.

So, to look at it from the opposite end, here’s what this might mean to us communicators. It’s about time we stopped trying to fight clutter with clutter. Let’s start fighting clutter with relevance. This means:

  • Clean up your database. Do some serious database hygiene; purge, segment, and double-checking who’s on our lists. Maybe some people in the database have changed jobs, move laterally, or just use the provided email address for ‘junk’ mail –or when forced to subscribe to something just to get a discount.
  • Stop automating every newsletter to the point that we just fill up the next scheduled one with ‘stuff’ because we don’t like to break the cycle.  (We might be doing our audience a huge favor by giving them a breather!)
  • Write better stories. This is hard because it requires some real storytelling, rather than a lead paragraph, followed by 4 bullet points, snuggling up to a cool stock-photo image.
  • Link to relevance. Point the story and newsletter to something more satisfying than the bland web site. Too many e-newsletter stories that promise ‘more information’ are nothing but traffic drivers. Someone in Corporate wanted to see a spike in page hits, perhaps…
  • Use analytics. Track how many ‘opens’  are engaged audiences. Maybe many of the recipients are stashing your newsletter (and dozens of others)  to be read over the weekend. Which might explain why some never get beyond one click. Maybe that group could become a secondary segment for less frequent mailings, or a different shorter version.

If all your content manager is doing is copying and pasting story leads from other sources, and sending it off to every week, it may be time to kill it.

Or it could be dead on arrival.

One thought on “Why the “Unsubscribe” link’s my new best friend

  1. Angelo,
    How refreshing to hear a communications professional discuss relevance in e-marketing and database management. Anything measurable is going to be difficult to reduce or eliminate, particularly at companies where top level executives see more value in those measurements than they do in the less tangible measures of consumer perception and public sentiment. If they are not ready to reduce or even eliminate some e-marketing tactics, the issue of relevance must be addressed or risk having the few who actually read e-newsletters tune out like the rest.


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