Opt-in Email Marketing: Proceed with Caution

Companies that use opt-in email marketing need to do so carefully.  Two companies that I “opted in” to receive messages did it wrong — so I voted with the cancel link and opted out!

I had happily bought from both and eagerly accepted their requests to opt-in to receive promotional emails.  I don’t know how often they were sending messages, but it seemed like a reasonable amount.  If I were to guess, I would say it was once or twice a month.

As the Christmas season approached, there was a definite increase in frequency to about once a week.  Still, that was okay.  One sent a coupon for a 20% discount and the other an offer for free shipping.  Using these promotions, I placed orders with each.  I was pleased with the results.

As Christmas approached, the flow of messages increased even more, as did the urgency to act.  I assumed I would need to tolerate their push for Christmas sales until after December 25th, when things would return to normal.

Things didn’t go back to normal.  Soon I was receiving a message every day from both companies.  When my irritation hit my breaking point, I opted out.  Relief at last.

I would likely have ordered from both in the future, but it might have been months.  Enduring an email message everyday, just so I might have a valuable discount in six months is not worth the frustration.  Unfortunately for them, they are now off my radar screen, so if a competitor shows up at the right time, I could end up buying from them instead.

I’m sure that each time these companies sent out an email blast, they were rewarded with orders.  However, if many otherwise-satisfied customers reacted as I did, the cost of these short-term sales will be a long-term loss of customers.

What do you think? Please leave a comment!