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Suppressing email addresses: it's good for everyone

Every sender, big or small, should have the ability to suppress sending to any particular email address. They must, absolutely, be able to stop sending mail to anyone for any reason. Not only is this a legal requirement in every jursidiction that has laws about email marketing, it’s just good business sense.
What happens when marketers fail to be able to suppress email addresses? At some point they’re going to mail someone who gets annoyed enough with them to make it public that they are too incompetent to run an email program.
This happened to the folks over at spamfighter.com recently. They have been spamming Neil Schwartzman (spamfighter, Executive director of CAUCE North America, Director of Standards and Certification at ReturnPath) since somewhere in 2007. Yes, really, 2007. Neil has asked them politely to stop spamming him. He’s explained he’s not actually using their software. They appear to be incapable of running a suppression list, despite telling him 3 times that they have removed his address.
Showing much more restraint than I would have with a sender who couldn’t stop sending me email, Neil gave them years to fix their process before blogging about his experiences. Instead of fixing their broken process they instead responded to his blog post insisting their mail wasn’t spam because they weren’t sending Viagra mail or 3rd party offers.
We can argue about the definition of opt-in, we can argue about whether registration is permission, we can argue about a lot of things, but when the recipients says “stop sending me email” and a sender says “we’ll stop sending you email” and then fails to actually stop sending email I think the recipient is fully justified in calling the email spam. Sorry spamfighter.com, your process is broken and your inability to fix it 2 years after the brokenness was brought to your attention does not give anyone a good impression.
Every email sender should have the ability to stop sending mail to recipients. If that’s not currently possible with your technology, it should be a very high development priority.

3 comments

  1. Huey says

    Yes. I agree 100% with everything you’ve said here.
    However, there is a caveat: suppose that you know, as a professional, that there is a domain somewhere that you know, with the knowledge borne of knowing, that you most assuredly don’t want your customers sending any mail to whatsoever. Hypothetically, let’s suppose that this domain is called “whew.com”, or perhaps “rhyolite.com”. Now, being a competent email marketer, you block your sending systems from sending amy messages whatsoever to those domains, and add them to your global flag lists such that any sender who uploads email addresses that include those domains are automagically pointed out to your operations staff, AS WELL as automagically precluding you from mailing to them.
    What happens next is a potential minor PR disaster, as the frothing nutbar who owns that domain — that domain that you already know you have no earthly business sending any marketing mail to whatsoever — complains publicly and loudly that you are ‘listwashing’ and ‘operating a global suppression list’ in order to prevent even the appearance of any impropriety, never mind that doing so is a) the law, b) a good idea even if in weren’t the law, and c) really the domain owner’s damn fault for being such an obstinate crank in the first place.
    The irony here is that I’ve seen the obstinate cranks both complain about commercial email even when it is solicited AND insist that allowing a spam to go through was a far more heinous transgression than allowing a non-spam to be filtered, and yet, when that very same crank signs up for email notifications from his bank, and can’t get them, he’s surprised by this?

  2. Mark Ferguson says

    Aside from Huey being an idiot, whew.com should never be on any list so it is a great tool to cull spammers from a pool of affiliates. I have suggested that to a lot of companies that hire their email sending out to third parties. I have even offered to create a whew,com email address and redirect it to a specified email address to them. They could monitor their email address and term their spammers.
    Of course Huey is an idiot and believes his own press. Who ever said solicited email is spam? My personal view is that unless it is “unsolicited” it is not spam no matter the content or who it is from.
    Huey, get your facts straight before you open your mouth or type or you can point out anywhere where I ever said solicited email is spam.
    “Demanding everything might mean you get nothing”
    “Expect nothing, never be disappointed”
    “Intelligence is the ability to learn”
    “Reality is constant and is only altered by your perception”

  3. Huey says

    I disagree. Granted, it’s WTTW’s blog, but I think the deliverability industry has, by and large, failed to include the perspective of the insane appliance mover, and I think that can be an important diversion, like the coverup of the secret anti-terrorist gun that Gerald Ford accidentally killed Elvis with, or perhaps Man Tampons.

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