January is often a time when people are looking to improve their habits. Sophie Meaney, CEO of Click, offers advice on coping with unsolicited emails.
The availability of free or very low-cost marketing automation software is causing problems for all.
Not only do most of us have inboxes swamped with emails we didn’t consciously solicit, but also it’s virtually impossible for organisations to be heard by their target customers who are subject to such a chaos of noise from all directions.
It also means that many suppliers deal with daily ghosting even from clients they know, who have become so hardened by the proliferation of approaches that their default response is to delete or ignore.
Ghosting in the professional sphere might not hurt quite as much as ghosting in the personal sphere, but it’s not pain-free, and from a mental wellbeing perspective, the impact can be cumulative.
Here’s a few practical suggestions for recipients of e-marketing in a bid to reduce a little of the difficulties on all sides.
1) Emails you don’t want to receive
A) If you never wish to hear from the sender again, click ‘unsubscribe’. This will mean that, even if your data is re-harvested at a later point, you should remain flagged to not receive communications.
B) If you don’t want to unsubscribe or if your organisation’s firewalls prevent you from clicking unsubscribe links then reply. I know that might feel counter intuitive, but it is in your interests.
The people sending you emails are looking for attention. Unless you satisfy that need for attention, they are just going to try harder. While replying isn’t a guarantee, deleting won’t make them go away.
To make it easier, here are example emails you could use:
For organisations you never want to hear from:
Many thanks for your message. I am afraid that your products/services are not of relevance to me and are unlikely to be in the future.
I would therefore be grateful if you could take me off any marketing lists, and refrain from contacting me again. If I receive further communications, I will ask our IT department to block your organisation’s IP address.
I wish you and your organisation every success, but I am not a suitable target customer.
For organisations whose products/services could be of interest in the future but who you don’t want to hear from now:
Many thanks for your message. I am afraid that we are not looking to procure products/services of this nature at the moment.
I have, however, kept your details on file and will contact you should this situation change.
Please do not keep in touch with me in the interim. My inbox cannot handle it, and if I receive more than one email a year from your company, I will delete you from my list of potential future collaborators and ask my IT Department to block your IP address.
Thank you for bringing your proposition to my attention and I will be in touch in the future if there is a fit between our needs and your offering.
2) Worried about contact escalating
While you may be happy to passively receive information from an organisation, you may be worried that opening emails could escalate you up a sales list and result in other unwanted approaches.
Here’s how you could respond:
Many thanks for your message. I am happy to receive emails from you, but please mark my record to make it clear that I do not want to receive any phone calls, or any other approaches, even if I read your messages or click on links.
It is possible that your products/services could be of interest to me in the future but, should that be the case, I will contact you.
In the meantime, any attempts to contact me beyond sending me generic marketing emails, will result in me unsubscribing/asking my IT Department to block your IP address.
3) Minimise the chances of receiving emails
Honch, Lusha, RocketReach etc etc – the list of organisations harvesting and selling contact data is huge. It is worth at least skimming e-marketing as if your contact details have been harvested, that organisation will usually send an email to test deliverability. That email will also give you a chance to unsubscribe/opt out of being on their list.
If you just delete their email, you will also have to delete the emails of all their clients who will have been given access to your details.
Also, quickly accepting cookies or failing to untick auto-subscribes can result in your information being shared with hundreds of other businesses. It is worth taking a few seconds, so you’re not inadvertently subjecting yourself to a lot of future distraction and disruption.
Beware when completing forms to access white papers etc too. You are usually agreeing to receive marketing materials by way of trade-off. Some businesses will let you opt out, but some won’t.
4) There is a person behind every communication
The email may have been set up as part of an automated chain, but it originates with a person who is just trying to do their best to meet targets they have been set against a brutally competitive market.
Where tactics feel most aggressive, there is almost certainly the greatest level of desperation. That doesn’t always excuse the style of approach, but it does explain it. The individual is most certainly not trying to make your life harder; they are just trying to get your attention.
Ignoring them means that need for attention is not being met. At best, you will continue to get emails. At worst, it might escalate – since you’re not replying to emails, they may hunt down your phone number instead.
Responding – firmly but respectfully – ensures that the person at the other end gets closure and enables you to take control of the contact you receive.
5) Don’t tar everyone with the same brush
There are some organisations who deploy unfortunate tactics, but don’t categorise all suppliers as being the same.
Most genuinely feel that there is a potential fit between your needs and their offering, and they believe it will be in your interests to be aware of their proposition.
6) Awareness of suppliers is part of your subject matter expertise
As stressful as it can feel to have an overflowing inbox, supplier approaches do help to keep you aware of what the product/service landscape looks like. Understanding what is being offered, even if it isn’t relevant to you at that point in time, can be a key part of your professional expertise.
Filing emails in an inbox folder can be useful if you think their proposition may become more relevant further down the line. It could save your future self some considerable effort.
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