Monday, January 11, 2010

Your Mailing List is Not a Place to Grieve

Because only CNN gets away with breaking the news about death. And even then it makes me want to sensor them so that I'm not constantly flooded with depressing news. It was my decision to sign up for CNN breaking news alerts to my phone or via twitter, though. I knew that they were a breaking news source-- and heck, that might include death. I was aware of what I was getting myself into.

Let's take another example of something that we all sign up for on the internet: newsletters with "valuable information" right to your inbox. We stumble upon a website, like what we see, or want that "free book chapter" (or something of the sort) and go ahead and sign up for the newsletter. Now we don't always know what we're getting ourselves into but we hope that the content we just signed up to receive will provide some semblance of value similar to what we already know about this website, business or individual.

Imagine you met someone in person working for an internet marketing company. You thought they might have some valuable content to share with you and they asked you for your email to add you to the mailing list. Sure, she seems genuine enough and you already got some great advice from her. So you sign up expecting to get e-newsletters related to internet marketing in some way. Over the course of two months you get a total of two emails completely unrelated to internet marketing: the first is a Happy Thanksgiving email; the second is subject: "he passed away :-("

What? Yes your internet marketing newsletter has sent you an email with an obituary of a close friend of hers that has died. Full with links to legacy pages and repeating text urging you to watch a video of said friend. You don't know this person.

What now? You find the unsubscribe link. Because only CNN gets away with breaking the news about the death of someone you don't know.

Just because you gather bundles of email addresses does not give you the right to write about whatever you please unless that's what your readers are expecting. Let this be a lesson in content you should not write about in your e-newsletter. Write about what you promise to deliver. Otherwise your subscribers will disappear.

Have you ever been surprised (in a bad way) by the content  you subscribed to? How often do you unsubscribe because the content you're sent doesn't match the content you were promised? Did you feel taken advantage of, naive, or just appalled?

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more. With more and more information coming my way (and I know I asked for it!) I have to be much more careful about who and what I let into my circle of information gathering. I want relevant, interesting, and helpful insights that I can act on today, or at least in the near future. Bottom line: Make it count if you want my email addy to stay on your subscribe list.

    To answer your question, I should unsubscribe more often and when the content consistently isn't what I feel I signed up for (except the likes of cnn of course .. haha ), I just feel "disappointed"