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Email Unsubscribe Hell!

by David Brock on September 21st, 2016
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We all get too many unwanted and unsolicited emails.  Usually, they are pretty easy to handle.  If they have used an emailing system–for example those integrated into the common marketing automation tools like Marketo, Hubspot, Eloqua, or those in email automation tools like MailChimp, Constant Contact or others; one can easily unsubscribe from these emails and not hear from these companies again.

Professional marketers buying lists always scrub those lists against the unsubscribe, so they don’t inadvertently send an emails to someone that has already unsubscribed.

If a company isn’t using a marketing or email automation system, the practice, at least what I’ve found useful is to send a reply with an Unsubscribe in the subject line, or a simple request in the email body.

Any of these techniques have worked for me in the past, at least 99.99% of the time.

Over the past year, however, one company continues to ignore my requests to be taken off their mailing lists.  The most surprising thing is it’s a PR/Marketing company.  One would think since they are supposedly experts at marketing and engaging customers, prospects, or influencers, they would honor these requests and stop sending emails.

After all, if they are experts in marketing, they should know what bad practices are.  One would expect them to know the laws on unsolicited emails, SPAM, and opt out.

At first, I thought the refusal to honor my opt out, may have been unintentional.  I noticed one Account Executive would send me an email.  I’d send a polite, “I’m not interested in these communications, please take me off your lists for future mailings.”  But later, I’d get another email from a different Account Executive.

Hmm…perhaps they have different lists, and they don’t talk to each other.  I continued to ask to be removed.

But then, I’d get emails from the people I had requested not email me.

Perhaps, they were just over enthusiastic, or naive.  It’s easy to solve that, I sent notes to the CEO and COO saying, “I’m really not interested in the things your people are asking me to do.  Can you remove me from all your email lists and make sure I never hear from your company again?”

The first time I sent the note, I received no response.  I took that as a positive sign, they knew I didn’t want to hear from them, so they didn’t even bother with a “We’ve removed your name.”

But within 15 days, I get another email, from one of the people I had already asked to stop emailing.

Hmm….this is really unusual.  I sent the top executives another email saying, “I’ve requested multiple times to be removed from your distributions.  Can you please confirm that you have done so?”  That was about 6 days ago.

I never got a response, but imagine my surprise, getting yet another email from an Account Executive, from this same PR Agency this morning.  “We’d really like you to meet with our client at Dreamforce………..”

I’ve determined this can’t be accidental or just plain sloppiness.  It can’t be anything but malicious decisions on their part (and perhaps on the parts of their clients), to ignore these requests and to continue to harass me with emails.

After all, I’ve communicated a number of times, given them the benefit of the doubt a number of times, yet I still get these emails.

I wonder, how can so-called marketing professionals execute such bad practice?

Clearly, they don’t care.  Nothing I say or do will have an impact.  They will continue to do this bad and possibly illegal.  It’s unclear how the CAN-SPAM Act might treat these requests to meet with, interview, and promote the work of their clients.

The real issue however, is problematic for their clients.  One wonders, “Is this they way they want their brand and company to be represented, particularly to influencers?”

Do they want their agency to continually and purposefully ignore requests to stop sending mail.  Do they want to see their agency continue to try to coerce influencers to meet with their company executives when those people have repeatedly said, “I’m not interested, please stop contacting me.”

Again, here, there may be legal ramifications under CAN-SPAM that may impact these clients.  If the law applies in these cases, fines can be levied against both the agency and their clients.

I don’t think this is the way effective influencer marketing and engagement is supposed to work.  Am I missing something?

It’s ironic, as you can see, this has been a long pattern of simply horrible marketing practice and bad representation of their clients.  Last year, I wrote  CEO, Don’t Let Your Agency Destroy Your Brand.  I wrote it based on the interactions I’d had with this same agency a year ago (In truth, I’d been receiving similarly bad emails from others, this agency is just the most persistent.)

This agency represents the worst in marketing professionalism.  If I were a CMO or CEO, I would be very concerned about the practices demonstrated by this agency, because it also reflects on your company’s brand and reputation.

I won’t identify the company other than to say they are a large Agency based in Chicago.  I’m certain my experience is not unique–why would they single me out for these deplorable practices?  I am suggesting to my colleagues who are considered influencers to write about this as well.

Ironically, many of these emails have been trying to get me to meet with the top executives of their clients at Dreamforce.  I intend to meet with those organizations while I’m there.  But the conversations will not be about their companies, strategies, and so forth.  I intend to share my personal experience and frustration with the influence marketing programs undertaken on their behalf by this agency, in their names.  I’m going to ask, “Is this the way you want to engage customers, prospects, influencers?  Is this what your company stands for?”

It’s tragic that companies spend their money to be represented in this manner.

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