Opting customers in to new programs
Recently, I started getting “1 sale a day!” emails from buy.com. I’ve made purchases from Buy in the past and generally have been content to get emails from them. They’re not always relevant, but hey, it’s relatively non-intrustive marketing.
When they started this new program, they just started mailing: no warning, no introduction, nothing. So I decided to opt out of this mail.
Buy.com has a preference center, and while I was there, I opted out of all email marketing. Why? Because a company that is going to randomly add me to new (daily!) marketing lists is a company I don’t trust any more.
A lot of folks have complained about Amazon doing the same thing. Amazon started a daily deals program and opted in a lot of people without warning, without introduction and without permission.
I get why companies do this. It’s a lot easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. It lets them sell things to people who might never opt-in to that program. And in many areas of direct marketing, consumers have no rights to make the marketing stop. They have no tools to make the marketing stop.
Email is different from many direct marketing channels, though. Many consumers have the tools to make mail stop (filters, this is spam buttons, changing their email address completely) and they do take advantage of them.
Given a marketers job is to extract as much revenue from customers as possible, they can’t respect recipients. They have to treat them as money dispensing machines. But at least in email recipients have some ability to opt-out of the transactions.