Monday, November 15, 2010

Mailing Lists: DO NOT WANT

Last week, I received a mass email from someone whose blog I'd followed. The email itself was fairly harmless--a reminder about something going on at the blog. But I'd never opted in to receive an email. Automatically questions arose. Will there be more emails from this person? Will my email address be added to a larger list and used as spam chop-suey? Will the other people cc'd (oh yes, not bcc'd) on the email mine the email list and add my name to spam lists? And where could I opt out? And why, for the love of kittens, why was it necessary to do this?

Email as a communication tool to augment blogging isn't bad in itself. It's the fact that I hadn't given permission for my email to be used this way. Granted--granted!--my email address is listed over there ------> in the sidebar for all to see and use. However, if you should take my address and use it for your mailing list, you would be a spammer.

When I got the email, I tweeted about it. Several people gave me advice on how to handle it. I felt that it required kid gloves because this is social media, after all, and I generally don't like to alienate my bloggy friends. Tawna Fenske suggested saying nothing in reply, but blocking the emailer from further attempts. Still another fellow tweeter suggested replying and gently educating the emailer on the etiquette.

Ultimately, I did nothing, but I blocked the address as spam. I feel that mining your google follower list for emails is such a gross violation of mass emailing standards that there really was nothing to say. I still go back and forth in my mind about it. It's possible the person genuinely didn't know. When I re-read the email, I noticed that it did say "Apologies if you don't want to receive this type of email; if you don't, let me know."

But that puts the action of it on me, and I still have to send an email that is not anonymous. I still risk having "ass" attached to me for doing so. It's like those guys who paint your house number on your curb and then ask for payment. If you don't want to pay for your house number painted on your curb (and why would I, when the cost is exorbitant), then *I* have to go outside, put some kind of notice on the curb, and hope the wind and rain don't blow it away. That assumes I can walk to the curb and bend over to begin with! (I can walk, but bending over--not so easy when you're preggers!)

Forget that. Ask me first or else get relegated to the spam folder, lose a blog follower, and generally piss people off.

Look, as authors or future authors, email lists are a great marketing tool. You should use them. But there are rules that must be obeyed. Because I administrate mass emailings for my company, here they are, in case you didn't know:

  • You may not email people unless they have specifically opted-in for that purpose.
  • You must include a way for the recipient to opt-out or unsubscribe from the email list and you must make it easy to do so (no "in writing" or bs like that)
  • Don't abuse the purpose. Meaning, don't send out mass emails to say hi or that your cat took a dump. Make sure it's newsworthy.
What do you think? How do you think I should have handled it?


Linda G. said...

I agree. If I follow someone's blog, it's because I want to read their blog...on my terms. When _I_ feel like it.

Being a non-confrontational sort, I probably would have handles it just as you did. :)

Lt. Cccyxx said...

I'd probably just ignore it too...the first time. But it is odd that the person believes anyone following their blog has given tacit permission to be e-mailed.

Jeannie Moon said...

The way you handled it will certainly solve the problem, but it won't educate the blogger. The only other solution would be to reply to the blogger's e-mail and request to "opt out" of future e-mails. After that, if I got any more notifications I would block them as spam.

I've been getting reminder e-mails from a blogger, whom I really like, but I find the e-mails intrusive. And you're right, who is to say my e-mail address won't be distributed more widely?

You've given me something to consider.

Tina Lynn said...

Ugh! Like you, I wouldn't have done anything, but I would have been teed off about it.

KLM said...

Yup. I'm in the same boat. I get these emails from this woman about once every 6-8 weeks or so. They're mostly harmless things, advising about an agent who's seeking submissions and so on. I have wimped out and just ignored them to date. Of course if they start coming with any more frequency than once every couple months, I might say something. But for now, I ignore.

Of course my relatives forward me all kinds of crap they think is funny but that I don't want to read. And I can't tell them to bugger off either. Sometimes you just gotta suck it up.

Teri Anne Stanley said...

Interesting. I didn't know this was even possible. I kind of figured that if I wanted to share something with my blog followers, I would, I don't it on my blog?

Of course, as I have major boundary issues (can't enforce my own, afraid to breach anyone else's) dealing with stuff like that is not up my alley. Can you say "Stalker Fodder"?

Sierra Godfrey said...

Great thoughts, guys.

Linda, you bring up a point that I wanted to make in my post (but was already blabbering on too long)-- that of reading blogs in my own time. The whole Google follower thing is a mixed bag anyway; we place way too much importance on its numbers while we know it isn't a true reflection of the reader count. There's a whole culture based on that Google Follower thing-- you follow me, I follow you, I don't SPAM you, you pretend to read my blog...etc.

Lt. -- No way does following a blog give my permission. And another thing-- CCing everyone? So that any unscrupulous person on the CC list can then steal my address? HATE.

Jeannie - You're right, but it still puts it on me, and that annoys me.

Tina and Kristen, probably if I get another email (and if it makes it past my spam blocker) I will drop her a line. Family is tough.

Teri Anne - funny thing is, she did post it on her blog...and then sent the email as a reminder that she posted it on her blog. Yeah.

Mia said...

I agree with you, methinks. I'm not even sure how you would do that but by clicking follow I'm not saying I want you to email me (although I adore emails)(perhaps I mean I don't want mass emails) I'm saying I want to keep up with the blog only.

I sign up for newsletters if I want anything more. That's totally how I roll.


Jeffe Kennedy said...

Okay, I'm clearly meaner than the rest of you! I think that if she has the line "apologies if you don't want to receive this type of email," then she has an inkling that some people, at least, don't. I agree with KLM that you have to suck it up sometimes (especially the religious and political stuff from rellytives *sigh*), but blog-following and social media are more formal contacts. I would likely unfollow the blog for that kind of transgression. But then, I'm mean like that. :D

Sierra Godfrey said...

Jeffe, I'm as mean. You're right about that line apology line.

I did unfollow the blog-- sadly, because it was purely based on the not wanting of future spam. But, hey. I feel the use of followership was violated.

If the blogger ever reads this, I hope she gets that this isn't personal at all. It's about managing time and email, which quite frankly exhausts me without dealing with spam.

Linda Leszczuk said...

I'm not sure how Blogger handles this but in the world in general, if someone feels you have crossed the line on sending unsolicited e-mail, they can report you to their ISP as a spammer and you can end up with all e-mail from your mail server being blocked by that ISP (i.e. Roadrunner, AOL, Google, Yahoo) until you convince them you're not. Been there, not pretty.

Tawna Fenske said...

I'm wildly curious if you'll hear from the spammer herself (himself?) or if he/she will just continue on in oblivion.

I have a friend who owns a high-end retail shop, and she's constantly being added to email lists by customers who want to peddle their businesses to her. She doesn't want to "unsubscribe" because she risks losing a customer in the process. The "mark as spam" option seems to work for her, but it's still annoying.


Anne R. Allen said...

I have actually seen marketing people suggest that bloggers collect the email addresses of followers (using the "email option" for comments)so they can send promos for new products or books. Probably the same marketers who used to tell people to send their queries in brightly colored envelopes so they'd "stand out." It made me cringe when I read it, but this woman may have been following some idiot "expert's" advice.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Linda - Indeed, that is something people should think about before they click send!

Tawna - I fear the oblivion route. And I hear you on the customer problem.

Anne -- no! no no no no!! Marketing is about engaging with others, not being a slimy weasel! If you remember who you saw say that, tell me and I'll give them what-for.

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