When is an Unsubscribe NOT an Unsubscribe?

When is an Unsubscribe NOT an Unsubscribe?

The answer is simple – NEVER!

People have many reasons why they might want to unsubscribe from marketing emails. Those reasons should be of no concern to a business. The fact is that if someone has requested to be unsubscribed then they should be, without exception, immediately unsubscribed.

Finger hovering over the words "Click Here to Unsubscribe"Once someone has chosen to unsubscribe, that person should remain unsubscribed for ever, unless they choose to re-subscribe. The onus to re-subscribe is entirely on the individual. A business is not allowed to invite somebody to re-subscribe. To do so constitutes breaking the law.

One Networking Group Thinks Differently

I used to receive a lot of marketing emails from one particular networking group. Not only did their emails come from a central HQ, but also from individual networking groups across the region. The volume was so great that I unsubscribed, but the emails continued to come. I again clicked unsubscribe, questioning myself as to whether I had completed the operation correctly first time. Still they continued.

I contacted the group’s head office and advised that their unsubscribe link was not working. These types of things can happen, by genuine mistakes / errors, so I wan’t perturbed at this poin. I pointed out to them that I no longer wished to receive their emails and was assured I would not.

Whilst the emails from the central HQ stopped, the individual networking groups continued to email me. This prompted me to email their Head of Marketing, wherein I explained the situation. Given my knowledge of the regulations concerned and my desire to help the group, I offered some training.3 cartoon men stood behind the word ExpertsI received no reply – not even a thank you for bringing it to his attention. The emails did, however, stop. At least for a while…

Invitation to Re-Subscribe

Imagine my astonishment when I received an email from one of the group’s Marketing Managers last week. It was headed “Invitation to Re-Subscribe to our Emails” and immediately grabbed my attention.

The email explained how they knew I had unsubscribed previously. However, they really wanted to be able to send me their fortnightly news updates, so invited me to re-subscribe!

I Had to Reply

Well of course I replied. I’m proud of my industry and I do what I can to protect it … and in turn, protect my clients. I politely explained how the email broke the law and could land the group in hot water with the regulator. I explained that I had unsubscribed for a reason and that should be respected. Finally, I asked that I not be contacted again.

The Phone Rang – What Happened Next Was Amazing!

Not unsurprisingly, I received a call shortly after sending my reply, from the person who had sent the email. Can you believe it – he argued the toss. According to him, he had “checked with those above him, who had confirmed he was okay to send the emails”. Note the plural – I wasn’t the only recipient of the invitation!

Information Commissioner's Office Logo

To cut a long story short, he continued to argue his case. After 15 minutes or so, I had had enough and simply said either take my advice or don’t. I then filed a report with the Information Commissioner’s Office. I was reluctant to do so, though felt I had to, so as to protect my industry.

The Moral of the Story – Unsubscribe Means Unsubscribe!

When somebody chooses not to receive your emails, their wishes must be respected without question or attempt to change their mind. Don’t try to woo them back with further emails, as to do so is against the law.

The fines associated with such rule breaking are large and sympathy for law-breakers is non-existent. That philosophy seems set to become even more rigid when GDPR arrives in 2018, when the fines increase too!

In simple terms, unsubscribe means unsubscribe. Act on such a request immediately and respect that person’s wishes. Not only will you be preserving that individual’s rights, you’ll be protecting your company!