Pushy Email Marketing - The one thing that makes me hit unsubscribe almost every single time.

The One Thing That Makes Me Unsubscribe EVERY Time

I was digging the idea of getting to know a local businesswoman I’d heard about.

She’d spent time living outside of the U.S., and anyone brave enough to do that is instantly sophisticated & trendy to me. Aside: I’ve been out of the country a total of once, and was terrified the entire time.

My understanding was that she’d been pretty high up the org chart in a well-known tech company that I respect. Her website was polished.

We’d talked one time via email after being introduced by a third party. I could tell this was a lady who had her business affairs in order.

Love was in the air!

Okay, not really — but things had gotten off on a good foot. It seemed like a start to a new (amazing) business connection.

And then…*it* happened.

I noticed an email newsletter from some business I didn’t recognize.

“Hmm…” I thought. “Who the heck spammed me?”

See, here’s the thing: I don’t subscribe to many email newsletters. I prefer to follow people and businesses via social media if I’m interested. My inbox is reserved for a select few who I trust to send quality content.

Because to me, my inbox is SACRED.

(Seriously, I take better care of my inbox than anyone I know.)

When I opened the email up, there SHE was. A big obnoxious headshot of the same lady who I’d been sooo excited to get to know.

In that one split second, Mrs. Has-It-All had turned into just another slimy online marketer invading my space.

Please don’t be that person.

Technically, yes. In the United States you can add people to your email newsletter without their permission.

There is an unfortunately named law called the CAN-SPAM law. The CAN-SPAM law requires that you to:

  1. Have a way for people to opt-out of your mailings.
  2. Include a current mailing address in your newsletters.

But you *technically* don’t need their permission to encroach on their inbox the first time. You can send unsolicited emails.

But come on…

Is violating someone’s sacred inbox worth the association it leaves with your brand? Because I immediately label those businesses as annoying Spammy McSpammers who are most concerned about themselves.

Think it’s going to make people loyal to your brand? Or have them rush to buy your products?

Marketing and branding guru Seth Godin doesn’t think so either. Like Seth says in his blog, people today are trained to ignore unwanted and obvious marketing efforts.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t NOTICE them.

After all, it’s still a pain to have to open the email and find the itty-bitty “UNSUBSCRIBE” link that’s hidden in a pile of ‘blah-blah-blah’. Then to add insult to injury, you often have to jump through a couple weird hoops to fully unsubscribe.

It wastes a minimum of 60 precious seconds of my day, and I promise you:

I chant “I hate you” for all sixty of those tedious and unnecessary seconds I spend unsubscribing.

Is this the first impression you want someone to have of you, your business, and your brand?

There’s a better way!

Wouldn’t the polite thing be to ASK me first? Allow me to opt in…

It’s called permission marketing for a reason. Imagine how differently someone would view your brand.

The words respectful, courteous, and polite immediately come to mind.

The truth is, spam marketing happens. Sometimes the sender doesn’t know better, but more often the marketer doesn’t care or has a Texas size ego. But as a business owner, you can take a stand.

Just say “No” and build your list in a more courteous and organic way.

The good news is, there’s a completely missed opportunity here I need to point out. So, allow me to finish this post by asking you a really important question:

What cheeky Unsubscribe response can we leave?

Usually when you go through the unsubscribe process, it’ll ask you for the reason you’re unsubscribing.

I see this as a prime opportunity to get creative with your unsubscribe responses.

So I asked some friends to help me develop a few “choice” unsubscribe responses for these special occasions. (And why yes – they’re all tweetables! All you gotta do is click to share.)


1. “I’m sorry. I don’t let anyone send me emails regularly until at *least* the second date…<wink>” – Me (Lisa Burger)

2. “You had me at Unsubscribe!” – Colleen Conger from Digital Photo & Design


3. “Hey, thanks for subscribing me to your list without asking me first. I returned the favor by subscribing you to Mail Order Brides/Grooms. You should be getting your first shipment in the morning!” – Colleen Conger from Digital Photo & Design

4. “What’s the difference between you and that canned meat from Hawaii that everyone hates? Yeah, I’m not sure either.” – Me (Lisa Burger), again.


5. “Hey there. I’m being ruthless in eliminating emails and de-cluttering my inbox. It’s not personal and I’d love to support your business in other ways.” – Karen Jones from Heart Matters.

6. “It was nice to hear from you. I’ll take a look at your newsletter later, but I wanted to let you know that it’s customary to ask permission before adding someone to your email list.” – Gloria Miele from Optimal Development Coaching

To keep my inbox the way I like it, clean and empty, I did have to “open” her email for a split second. But that open metric doesn’t tell the whole story, because I sure didn’t waste any time reading it.

Instead I scrolled immediately to the bottom of email and found the link to unsubscribe. In keeping with my playful nature, I left unsubscribe response #1 in the “why are you unsubscribing?” form.

And then, I deleted the newsletter email completely.

I don’t need any bad mojo in my inbox.

The people and clients I want in my world value everyone’s time (and their inbox space). The peeps I want in my life are the kind who politely ask me in a separate email, “Hey Lisa, I have a newsletter where I write and share x, y, and z so it might be useful for you. If you’re interested, please sign up here.

And they’d also offer a couple alternative channels to stay in touch, like Facebook –  in case email wasn’t my thing. (Because it isn’t.)

So, adieu for now, Mrs Spammy McSpammer!

Still, I’m really curious about this subject.

How do YOU feel about email marketing?

Do you subscribe to a lot of newsletters, or do you keep it to a bare minimum?

And of course, if you have a fabulous semi-snarky unsubscribe response to add to the above best-of list…please don’t keep that to yourself! The world needs to hear your humorous insightful snark – so be sure to share that gem in the comments below!