Email Marketing: It’s a Jungle Out There

Every morning, without fail, one of the first things I do is pull up my email on my phone. I mindlessly delete junk, thumb through various marketing ploys, and extend my zombie like state for a little while longer.

This past week I started to wonder just how many emails I got, and how many of those emails were from stores or brands trying to entice me to buy something I don’t need. So I kept track for 5 days, and I did the unthinkable: I unsubscribed from everything.

I figured I’d be tempted less because it wouldn’t be as front of mind every morning before I’ve had any coffee and therefore am not capable of rational decision making.

So here’s what happened:

  • Monday morning by 8 am, I had 18 retail related emails. That doesn’t include everything–just places trying to get me to buy stuff. I spent 20 minutes unsubscribing for each of them and some where easier than others.
  • Tuesday morning I had 14 retail emails waiting for me. I found it a little annoying that I had to unsubscribe from Athleta, Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic separately since they’re all the same company but I got it done. I also decided that PayPal is kind of a jerk about it.
  • On Wednesday I was down to 8. I felt like I was making progress.
  • Thursday I had 10 emails–party because some of the ones I unsubscribed said it could take up to 10 days for the change to take effect.
  • On Friday I only had 3 emails. It felt awesome. I wasn’t wasting time deleting or being tempted to open and look.
  • Saturday morning I had 1. Just 1. I’m kind of looking forward to next week just to see how few emails I get.

So here are my observations:

  • Some shops/brands have fairly entertaining unsubscribe notifications. Things like “Ok we understand, but we’ll miss you terribly” or “Please don’t go” and then offering to keep me subscribed if I so chose.
  • Some shops/brands tried to make it tricky to get away from them. They’d hide the unsubscribe all option under several “fewer emails” options. They’d put the unsubscribe link in the email itself in the tiniest font on the entire page, buried under other unrelated text. And some would send me confirmation emails to my unsubscribing so I could make sure I really wanted to do it. It was almost like breaking up with someone who really didn’t want to break up with you–frustrating, and a little bit pathetic. Have some pride, retail stores! Other people will still shop with you! It’s not you, it’s me. We’re just in different places in our lives right now.
  • There were a couple where I chose to get weekly updates instead of daily–mostly places where I buy clothes for my kids because I try to jump on sales for their stuff anyway.
  • It’s quite nice to not feel tethered to my phone first thing in the morning. I’m a clutter hater and that extends to my email, so now I know I won’t have the crazy build up waiting for me that only grows as the day goes on. I don’t feel compelled to check it to clean it out.
  • It’s not like I’m missing out on anything. If I need to go check something out, it’s not like I can’t find Amazon or Nordstrom’s online. They’re not going anywhere and they’ll be right where I left them.
  • Now if I buy something online, I know to be more careful about letting them automatically sign me up for marketing emails. I spent a decent amount of time getting away from that mess, so I don’t want to let it creep back in.

It’s not something I gave much thought to before my shopping ban–but it might have had a negative influence on my behavior. It was always there, waiting for me, telling me I had all these “amazing deals” just waiting to be grabbed. I’m glad I took the time to eliminate it from my daily routine.

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