Subbing In For The UnSub

I finally said goodbye to an outdoor retailer in my inbox who sent the same email three times in two days. I have not bought anything from them recently and decided I needed a break from the “we are too cool for real marketing” tone. So, while they were busy skiing on their lunch breaks, so they claim, I hit “Unsubscribe” that was (font size 2) at the bottom of their last email.

I was not expecting an “Unsub” confirmation email and I didn’t get one.

What I got instead was an email sent a few hours later to the tune of “Are you sure you don’t want any more email from us?” I let it go unanswered.

The next day I got the same “Are you totally, definitely, no doubt, double-dog sure you don’t want any more email from us” with two question marks along with a coupon. Again, I let it roll to outer space with my delete button and probably to the inner workings of the NSA.

A few days later, the extra-needy email wizard sent me a “last chance” email asking essentially the same desperate plea for a second (third, fourth) chance and the same coupon offering 15% off any purchase and (get this) a survey link to tell them how better to serve me and my rapidly filling inbox.


You can’t make this stuff up. Let’s do the math:

3 emails to me in a 48=hour period +

1 Unsubscribe request   =

3 more emails with 2 coupons and 1 Survey request all in less than 1 week

While I shudder to think of the outbound volume this must be costing them, I also wonder what version of CAN-SPAM they have in front of them. Since when did multiple emails, an offer and a survey become the new substitute for Unsubscribe?

When someone “breaks up” with you in CRM does “No” really mean “Yes?” 

Is “Go Away” the new “Call Me Maybe?”

I stared at my inbox with complete shock a few days later when I got another marketing email from the same retailer like the past week meant nothing.

[In my head I instantly hear the ServPro tagline; “LIKE IT NEVER EVEN HAPPENED…”]

Wait, aren’t we fighting right now? Aren’t I so pissed at you, retailer X, that I told you to get out of my inbox for good and never come back?

Why are you hanging around like last week’s Chinese food leftovers in the stained, white carton?


So frustrated was I to have my wishes for their imminent evisceration ignored that I opened a link on their site and clicked on “Contact Us.” No sooner had I sent the form-driven email off letting them know that “Unsubscribe” might actually mean “die please” in my book did my phone ding at me indicating yet another email.


“Thanks for your inquiry – we are super stoked you want to reach out to us and we will answer your customer service need within 24 hours…” (I am paraphrasing, of course – but they did say “stoked!!”)

To my horror, it took 3 more unsolicited inbounds from them (that I marked for SPAM) and 2 more Unsubs from me but eventually “The Sort of Great Outdoors Retailer with Lousy Email Protocol” finally lost my email address after about a month of me trying to break up with them.

Not sure when the rules changed or when it became okay to continue to “hang around” after the love affair is over, however, there should never, ever be a marketing substitute for the “demandment” of an Unsubscribe by a customer.

There is no substitute.

2 comments about "Subbing In For The UnSub".
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  1. Jacqueline Baes from Seen Artist Management, November 19, 2013 at 9:27 a.m.

    This is a great article. I completely agree. Jackie Baes Seen Artists

  2. Kevin Strawbridge from Square L Group, LLC, November 20, 2013 at 12:34 p.m.

    What seems to work very well is to tell them that your next e-mail will include a CC to the attorney general of the state in which you live. In TX, they do follow-up and prosecute.

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