One of the challenges of my job is to separate my personal feelings and experiences related to email marketing and spam from my advice to clients. I am here to make your delivery better, not to make everyone use email marketing the way that makes me the most comfortable.
That being said, I get a lot of spam across my various email addresses. If I have an extra few minutes I’ll sometimes send complaints, but more and more it is too hard, too complicated and / or the ISPs do not care anyway. In the last 2 weeks I’ve had 3 experiences with unexpected / unwanted email (aka: spam) where I did take action.
- Bank of America.
- Xign Corporation.
Bank of America
I would never have chosen to be a BoA customer, but they bought out MBNA a while ago and I ended up as a customer of theirs. I’m not happy with them, but there is inertia and a very high (unused!) credit limit involved. Bank of America decided that all their customers needed to receive emails when a new bill is prepared. Fair enough, a lot of people probably like this. I do not, and am slightly annoyed that I am receiving sensitive financial information by email when I did not request it, but it should be a simple issue to unsubscribe, right? Not so much, no.
The email I received says:
If you want to stop receiving e-Bill summaries via email, follow these steps:
- Sign in to Online Banking.
- Click the Bill Pay & e-Bills tab.
- Select Automatic Payments.
- Locate the payee for which you would like to cancel e-Bill summaries through email.
- Select Add/Edit/View.
- Remove the check mark from the box that reads I would like to receive e-Bill summaries via email. You will continue to receive e-Bills in your Online Banking Service.
I log in to follow the instructions but get stopped at step 5. BoA requires that I provide them with at checking account number and routing information in order to proceed. When I call the bank the phone folks are very helpful, but still, I should not have to call my bank in order to stop receiving email I never signed up for in the first place.
Moral of the story: Do not sign up customers for email and then prevent them from easily unsubscribing.
They have managed to find an email address belonging to me. I’m not sure how as it is not published anywhere and I do not think I have had any contact with Neolane. They keep sending me notifications for webinars. I noticed that at the bottom of the email there was a copyright belonging to a company I have interacted with in the past. I contact someone I know over at that company and ask him if he knows how I signed up for this list. A flurry of emails later and he tells me that Neolane is a partner and is mailing to their own list and they will probably contact me. My contact also comments that his clicks and opens have been decreasing recently and he’s not been able to figure out why, but this may help explain it.
Moral of the story: Affiliates and partners mailing your content or even links to your site may cause you delivery problems.
Xign is an online billing and payment processor. They handle billing for one of our Abacus customers. I did sign up at the Xign website, but only because that was the only way to invoice the customer. I have received the occasional email from Xign about web outages and maintenance windows. I did not really want them, but could see how they were relevant to my registration on the website.
Last week, however, JPMorgan Xign decides to send me a blatant advertisement for their services, touting how much more efficient I will be if I just use their online invoicing system. I contacted their ESP and pointed out that while I had registered at the Xign website I was not a customer and really did not want this kind of email. I also suggested that the ESP might want to check the permission status of this list. The ESP responded quickly saying that no, really, this was not permission and they would have a chat with their customer before any other emails went out.
Moral of the story: Just because someone registers at your website does not mean they are your customer.
For the most part, these are exceptional examples. They are certainly not examples of companies blatantly and unrepentantly spamming. They are, however, examples of poorly implemented marketing or bad decisions made by the sender.
How well do you know your email marketing program? Could you be tripped up by similar issues?