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Saturday, September 20, 2014

An Opt-Out Culture That Whines Too Much


In any given day, consumers of information and content will opt in and out of a number of lists.  Many don’t realize what they’re signing up for nor will they remember that they signed up for any of this stuff.  Additionally, people will respond to an email, sometimes hastily, by opting out, asking the sender to never contact them again.  It seems kind of harsh to just dismiss a person or organization for life, just because in a split second you decided you didn’t need whatever was being shared or offered.  How is all of this opting in and out impacting our lives?

There no doubt is a lot of inbox clutter and junk mail out there.  Some is way off target, such as a Viagra ad to a little old lady.  Some seems irrelevant to us and some challenge our values and views.  But a lot of email is really not so offensive or wasteful – it’s just not seen as relevant or useful for the moment.  I think there should be another designation for emails like this.  They may not be true SPAM or something demanding you opt-in or out of.  They are just low-priority emails that may hold value down the road.

When you send emails to market your book, brand yourself, or sell something, you hope that the recipients won’t see you as spam or an intrusion.  But, if you send enough emails, you are sure to get critics of your approach and outreach.

It frustrates me when people overreact to an email.  They go through great pains to let everyone know they don’t like being contacted or they don’t like your offer or message.  Don’t they have better things to do with their lives than to whine about one email?

For instance, people forget they opted-in, so any opposition they have to being emailed by you is ridiculous.

Second, if an email is targeted in who gets it and the message presented or offered is relevant to them, then what’s the big deal?  Just don’t over send emails.  For instance, I get almost daily emails from a local but unnamed sports team .I love my baseball team but it gets to be annoying to be pitched that often.

Third, regardless of whether you think an email was SPAM or not, you shouldn’t think that invites you to respond rudely or crudely.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.  What is there to be gained in spending any effort in arguing with people who email you a service or product that could be of use to you?

Online marketing and communication is still a growing and developing medium.  We need to balance the needs of a marketer and the desires of the consumer. 

Just as marketers need to understand the needs, desires, demands, and habits of consumers, those who consume should balance tolerance, understanding, and compassion for those who try their best to give you relevant and valuable offers.

Consumers can opt-out, press delete, or otherwise choose to ignore a message, but when they cross the line and look to publicly shame or cause professional harm to the marketer, they have done a disservice to the ecosystem of ideas, news, ads, and connections that people have come to love about the Internet. 

Marketers must act responsibly and take extra steps to filter and update lists.  They need to, as often as possible, be better matchmakers in connecting a consumer to the exact product or services desired or needed.  But they are not perfect.

I think we’re getting so used to skipping commercials via DVRs, streaming downloads on demand, and viewing ad-free content that we forget in order for the economy to function at a healthy pace, marketing must do its role to reach consumers.  Once we accept we live in a world that includes marketing, we’ll be much better for it.


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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