Email Newsletters And Reputation Maintenance
It always surprises me how companies which try to present an image of good email practices (i.e., don’t spam) let their standards slip so easily, and their reputations with it.
In June 2003 I signed up for Click2Asia, an online dating service for ethnic Asians (no I’m not Asian, but I figured living there for the past 17 years made me as eligible as anyone else, and besides, it was for a column. Well that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.) Anyway, for a while everything was fine — they would send out newsletters every so often, but the email address I gave them didn’t find its way onto spam lists. Until this week.
This week I’ve received two dodgy emails from Click2Asia with the subject line ‘A friend has referred you to Click2Asia!’ and suggesting ‘a friend of yours thinks that you might find true love on our site! Try a search, and see what comes up!’. These emails were sent to the very unique email address I gave when I signed up, so this can only be classified as spam: No one else has that address, I have already signed up as a member with that address — ergo it must come from within Click2Asia. Pretty poor state of affairs, if you ask me. I let one go as a possible error, but now getting another within three days convinces me these guys are not to be trusted.
Why a company would imperil its reputation by sending out spam beggars belief. It would appear to me to reflect how poorly these websites understand the public mood about spam, or how little they care.
Another gripe, while I’m on the subject: Email newsletters must be easier to unsubscribe from. Now that everyone has more than one email address (or uses disposable email addresses), no longer is it acceptable to throw up error messages which suggest that because the email came from a different email address than the original message, the unsubscription has failed. Failed unsubscribe messages must be handled manually if necessary or the user pointed to a website where they can remove themselves manually. The burden should not be on the user. A case in point: Audible.com. I tried to remove myself from their list this morning but despite following their instructions found my emails either prompting another error message or simply bouncing. Black mark for Audible and a good argument for a) not subscribing in future and b) using RSS feeds.