After having panel of students from Ball State University at the spring Email Insider Summit, this week MediaPost featured a panel of mothers. While most of the moms saw email and online shopping as highly convenient, they also all expressed negative feelings toward email. One said she'd be more receptive if she received fewer emails. Another said, "The computer is a time-sucker." They all put a premium on convenience, simplicity and transparency of email offers. They also didn't seem to make much of a distinction between spam and emails that they opted in to receive.
The most telling moment was when DJ Waldow of Bronto Software asked the women how they decided whether to delete an email, unsubscribe or mark it as spam. One of the panelists proudly declared that they were women so there was no rhyme or reason for what they did. The other women nodded their heads and laughed. When pressed on the matter, they seemed to indicate that they just deleted unwanted emails, whether they were spam or just irrelevant permission-based email. No wonder they're frustrated with their inboxes. They don't appear to know how to stop receiving messages from legitimate or illegitimate marketers.
That stands in sharp contrast to how the college kids behaved. They were very quick to mark as spam both unsolicited messages as well as emails that they'd asked to receive but that no longer interested them. For instance, one of the students said that he had signed up for Urban Dictionary's "Word of the Day" email but had grown tired of the emails and would probably "junk it." So while the college kids knew how to stop receiving emails, they also didn't distinguish between permission-based email and spam.
What's clear from all of this is that many consumers don't know how to use email properly-which is to say that they are a detriment to themselves and to email marketers.
In the wake of the spring Email Insider Summit, the Email Experience Council polled the email marketing community, asking whether the EEC should help reestablish the true definition of spam. More than 90% said that it should. The EEC's response was to launch the Consumer Education Roundtable, of which I'm a member. The new roundtable was tasked with creating a consumer Web site that would educate email users on how to get the most out of their email experience, not only educating them on the appropriate way to get rid of unwanted emails -- both spam and permission email -- but also giving them advice and information that would make their inbox a less intimidating place.
Under the leadership of Jason Baer of Convince & Convert and DJ Waldow, the roundtable has developed a content strategy for the Web site that revolves around three topic areas:
1. How to identify unwanted email, including spam and phishing attempts. 2. How to manage and get the most out of your email subscriptions, including how to use preference centers, and why you should unsubscribe rather than mark as spam. 3. How to efficiently manage your inbox, including tips on setting up rules, managing email notifications from social networks, and how to respect the inboxes of friends and family.
The roundtable is actively looking for educational content that can be repurposed for the site, as well as collecting links to blogs posts, articles, videos and other content that would help consumers understand these issues. If you know of resources that would be helpful to this effort, please comment below or reach out to Jason, DJ or Ali at the EEC.
If you've ever been frustrated by the actions of your subscribers, I encourage you to get involved with this initiativ.