To Unsubscribe, or Not to Unsubscribe

Hardly the question. Daily I find myself unsubscribing from a newsletter or mailing list that I never registered for. The reason is that I am actually five people.

No, no, no. Don’t misunderstand. My friends, co-workers and family have never witnessed more than one quirky, rather mild personality answering to “Larry.” More to the point, I receive redirected email from the accounts of four former marketing employees.

As the head of the marketing team at a small company, I have to sort through these various email requests and inquiries to make sure we don’t miss anything critical. Not the best use of my early morning, but I do mine the occasional gem – an invitation to speak, an insightful blog column, an advertising option we didn’t know existed – that was shipped to the wrong person. Mistakes happen.

The time suck for me is all the rest of the dreck that arrives. Here are a few of my less-than-favorite themes:

  • Companies that want to sell us “targeted” lists of contacts, but send them to the email accounts of individuals who are clearly no longer at our company (catch the irony there?).
  • Advertising emails sent out in bulk, so that I get five of the exact same messages! None of these hold interest, but I am forced to unsubscribe five times to make sure we’re out of their database.
  • Vendors that offer third-party papers and other marketing tips, and to unsubscribe, require that I know the former employee’s password so that I can log onto the vendor website to manually de-select the multiple options that will send me multiple emails on multiple topics.
  • Solicitations from individuals who either list no unsubscribe link at the end of the email or request me to send them a personal email with REMOVE in the subject line. How very 1997.

All said and done, I do feel like I am making incremental progress in cutting down the flow. I fully appreciate everyone who uses ConstantContact (we don’t), with it’s “SafeUnsubscribe” option. It’s a moment of transcendent joy when I spot that tiny blue link at the bottom of the email, click once, and never hear from them again.

As for the rest, those list brokers who hawk these derelict email addresses to inattentive advertisers, those fiends I would relegate to the 8th Circle of Hell as described in Dante’s Inferno. That’s the one reserved for fraud: panderers, seducers, flatterers, sorcerers, false prophets, liars and thieves. May 2015 see an end to these “False Prophets of Email!”

Unless that’s a trendy new band. With a moniker like that, I might just go see them.

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