Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Ok, here's something I'm getting tired of seeing:
I get a marketing email from some company (that I've opted in to previously) and decide that I no longer want to receive the emails.
I click on the unsubscribe link and it asks me for my password. I have, of course, forgotten my password eons ago, so I click on "Forgot your Password?". Now I get a form asking me to provide the answer to some stock question they asked me lo those many eons ago. An answer that I've also forgotten, in no small part due to the fact that I wasn't about to give out my precious birthday information (or th like) for the goods they were going to give me back (the value on the goods was too low), so I had made up something.
All the while, I have an email address they could send me the information to. But they won't. So now I'm forced to have my email filtering software call this SPAM, which does neither me nor the company I'm subscribing to any good. They've mucked up my spam filter's ability to detect true spam, while thinking that I'm seeing their emails but just not getting interested in them. Most likely, they'll complain that I'm in the class of users that is overzealous about use of the "Mark As Spam" button. I'd send them an email explaining my situation but, of course, there's no way to do that on their form.
I'm seeing this increasingly often as sites try to tighten up their security, but I ask you, how secure does unsubscribe really need to be? If it's important, send me an unsubscribe confirmation email; if I don't get that, odds are I wasn't getting your email to begin with. Yahoo, I'm looking at you!
Another annoyance on this level is the inability to unsubscribe using a link rather than reply. I use different email addresses in the domain that I own each time I sign up for something so I can track who's selling my name to whom (you may be surprised, actually, at how rarely a name gets sold by a company that acquired it legitimately), all of which get funnelled back to a single account. I don't have 200 machines set up each with a different email account on it, so when I reply to unsubscribe I get a notice that my email address (the master address everything gets sent to) isn't on their list. Or WORSE, I get an email that my master address was successfully unsubscribed, leading me to believe that they didn't check, and now I've provided them with my master address to spam.
I read a few months back that as many as 1% of Internet users use a different (valid) email address each time they sign up for something. This may not sound like much, but clients that I work with (who are large companies) tend to have mailing lists that contain around 250K names. This means that almost 3000 people use my strategy. It's trivial to build an unsubscribe page, and I bet more people would use a link than would use reply even if they didn't use my strategy, so it's a good investment.
Yes, I know some of you are saying "why would I want to make unsubscriptions easier". Trust me when I say that this is a good thing for the business as well. Yes, your unsubscribes may go up, but so will your read rates. And do you think that someone who had to jump through a lot of hoops is likely to come back and register in the future? I wouldn't bet on it.
Anyway, leave a comment if you think I'm totally off base. See you next rant.