Tired of Email Subscriptions? Whatever You Do, Don’t Use the Spam Button

Email can be overwhelming. It’s bad enough that many of us already juggle multiple inboxes filled with “urgent” messages from colleagues, links to YouTube videos, and other email from friends and family and chains of conversations that we really do not need to be constantly cc’d on every response. If you’re like me, you also receive dozens of email newsletters and blasts from retailers and other services on a daily basis — including weekends and holidays.

These email newsletters, which come from retailers such as your favorite place to buy jeans or your favorite online store to buy business cards, are always opt-in per federal anti-spam Laws. Most use services like Aweber to manage their lists, and this type of management and email marketing can cost thousands of dollars — so it is important for the business to make sure customers actually want to get this email. This holiday season retailers are enticing shoppers to sign up for newsletters more than ever before with incentives such an extra 15% off of your total purchase if you subscribe to their email newsletters. For those shopping for friends and family this holiday season, these savings can really add up. However, so can all of these extra emails in your inbox, especially in addition to the email newsletters you already receive.

You may already know that email services like Gmail make it oh-so-easy to group all of these types of emails together and implement a filter that will send all future emails from these retailers and businesses right to the trashcan, leaving you with only the important emails in your inbox. Alternatively, you may be inclined to hit the spam button on each of these emails so services like Gmail (or Yahoo!, or Hotmail, et al.) will automatically filter them for you.

Unroll MeBut before you get too happy with the spam button, consider unsubscribing from each email newsletter. This option is required to be somewhere within each newsletter by federal law. There are also alternative services and apps that make it easy to unsubscribe from these email newsletters en masse, such as Unroll.me, which is my personal favorite. Unroll.me is still in beta, but you can sign up and then easily opt out of subscribing to dozens of newsletters — even if you are currently filtering them directly to your trash folder.

So why does it matter — if you already are redirecting newsletters to a spam or trash folder — that you unsubscribe, too? Perri Blake Gorman, co-founder of Unroll.me, says that “If you put a legitimate email in your spam folder, it actually hurts the sender as it is a black mark on their IP Address.” Aweber further explains that when a user clicks on the spam button to delete an email, it is deleted, but the button indicates to its sender’s ISP that they don’t want to get email from this sender. This button also generates a spam complaint against the sender. Aweber notes that for some people it’s hard not to click on the button.

While you may not think clicking the spam button affects you, if everyone clicks on the spam button to simply delete all email newsletters, this will effectively block them from being delivered to people who do want to receive these emails. While I may not be inclined to open every discount, savings pass, group deal, or other offer, I’d hate to completely miss out on an amazing coupon because others didn’t understand that they effectively blocked the email from being delivered to the entire list.

Instead, consider using Unroll.me to filter out the email subscriptions you don’t want. Unroll.me accesses your account through a secure IMAP connection to find (and only find) the email newsletters to which you are subscribed, and then — with just a few clicks — help you unsubscribe. (Keep in mind that once you unsubscribe from a newsletter, the provider, according to the “CAN SPAM ACT of 2003,” can take up to 10 days to take you off of its email list.) For those of you who don’t have the time to read your remaining email subscriptions, consider redirecting the rest of these email newsletter subscriptions to a folder that you can check at the end of the day or once per week. I use this method with other types of emails (such as notifications from social networks and subscriptions to blogs).

And whatever you do, stop using the spam button. (Unless, of course, it really is spam.)

Want to try out http://unroll.me/“>Unroll.me to help unsubscribe yourself from unwanted mailing lists? Sign up for the beta at Unroll.me, and the first 50 LockerGnome readers will get priority access! As always, be sure to let us know what you think of the service in the comments.

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Kelly Clay, author of Blog Without Boundaries, is a freelance writer and lifestyle advisor.