Stop Me If You Think You’ve Been Mailed by Me Before…

Have you ever received mail from a company or organization, even after you thought you unsubscribed? Are you just having a déjà vu moment, or has there been a “glitch in the matrix”?

When this happens to one of your email recipients, they might think that your organization didn’t honor their unsubscribe request, which can result in your email being marked as spam, or even a direct abuse desk complaint being made against you. Trust me, legitimate direct abuse desk complaints are taken very seriously, and carry a lot of weight.

Are these continued mailings really the result of senders or ESPs not honoring an unsubscribe request? Yes and no! Let me explain…

As a sender, you’re expected to take action within 10 days on any opt out/unsubscribe requests your list members make. You should also provide a one-click unsubscribe mechanism. This means that the subscriber only has to click one button or link to unsubscribe from your list, rather than be re-directed to web page or fill out a host of forms, questionnaires, etc.

If you are using an ESP to send your mail, you’re ahead of the game, as most will require – and provide – an unsubscribe link in the footer, which will automatically process the request for you. It will also move the recipients address to an unsubscribe state, and make sure that the address can’t be mailed to again through your account. And that’s all well and good, until you decide to switch ESPs. In this case, it’s really important to make sure that you gather all addresses that have been unsubscribed from your current mailing list, and import those addresses as “unsubscribed” into your new account.

Most ESPs have processes in place that look for records already flagged as unsubscribed, and as such will not add them to your list as active addresses. This prevents those addresses from being mailed to through your new account.

If you don’t import the unsubscribed members to your new ESP, there is no way the new provider will know that these addresses should not be sent to. This makes the possibility of sending mail to someone that has already opted out very real. These are the cases when a recipient might assume the sender didn’t honor their opt-out request – and for good reason. Even if they did honor the subscriber’s request, they essentially opted them back in when they switched services.

When I onboard new clients here at Net Atlantic, I usually require that they send me a file of all their unsubscribed addresses, so I can import it into their new account for them. It’s not because I want to “look” at these addresses. It’s because I want to help them honor the request from the address holder. You must remember that you’re required to honor such opt out requests until the time that the address holder chooses to opt themselves back into your mailing list – no matter what service you’re using.

So, before looking for that cat to walk by you twice, just be sure to always honor unsubscribe requests and when you move those addresses from service to service. And, if you sign up for an account with Net Atlantic, don’t be surprised when you get an email from me asking for your all your unsubscribers!

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