Ignoring opt-outs


One of the marketing solutions to the spam problem is just to have recipients opt out.

We think that commercial e-mail should always — and I emphasize always — provide for a way for the consumer to say: “I don’t want to hear from you again. One bite of the apple is enough. Having heard from you, I don’t want you to send me email again.” So we think that the approach of allowing a single message, and then an opt-out, makes the most sense. Bob Weitzen, DMA President, 2003

The problem with this approach is that some companies ignore the opt out from consumers. Even in the face of the CAN SPAM act, they still find ways to send mail to people who opted out.

Today’s example is from Microsoft. They sent out a mail this morning  to an address that was not given to Microsoft and has not received mail here since 2011.

Subject: We miss you! Re-subscribe to receive the latest tech news from Microsoft

Dear Laura,
Did you know your current contact settings have cancelled all Microsoft email communications to your inbox? We’d like to encourage you to re-subscribe so you won’t miss out on any of our great content and resources to help you and your organization realize its full potential. Opt-in to receive the latest information from Microsoft — all it takes is one click. If the content you receive is not to your liking, you can opt back out at any time.

I’m hearing from other people, on Facebook and to our contact address, that they have received this email as well. This seems to be a widespread “re-engagement” campaign by Microsoft. Some folks I’ve talked to say that the address they’ve received the mail to has been unused for years. Others say the message came addressed to the wrong name.
Overall, this was an extremely poorly done campaign by Microsoft. They are sending mail to recipients who have specifically said that they don’t want mail from Microsoft. They are admitting that the recipients don’t want the mail. I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m really not. Consumer preferences just don’t matter to many marketers.
Edit: Consumerist article on Microsoft sending to opt-outs.

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  • Unfortunately marketers still avoiding email marketing best practices. Here at Brazil this kind of professional appears to be the majority among them. Sadly to say but it’s the truth.

  • Best Western Hotels just did the same to me. I booked a hotel in the Bahamas three days ago, through to US website. Ticked all of the “don’t contact me boxes” and this morning woke up to spam from BW UK about various UK hotels they want to promote.
    What’s interesting is that I booked on Friday evening Uk time and it is now 6am Monday morning. My address must have been automatically and deliberately sent over the weekend to the program that targets UK customers.
    I’m going to complain and if I don’t get redress cancel the hotel.

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