When a reader unsubscribes, don’t ask why

Seems it’s against the law.
This month’s Wired mag has this Q and A:

Reader Q: “I use an opt-in mailing list to notify customers about my
business’s special deals. If someone unsubscribes, is it creepy for me
to email them and politely ask why they left?”

Wired A: “The fact that you’re being really creepy shouldn’t be
your main concern here. It’s simple: What you’re proposing is actually against the law.
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 clearly states that once someone opts out
of a list, you can contact them only with essential emails about their purchases
or account status. No matter how friendly your inquiry, you risk federal penalties
if you press the Send button….Let the customer go.”

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • I use the Aweber list service which lets folks who leave your list, give a reason.

    For my list, folks have said things like, “I love your stuff but I am overwhelmed.” Or, “too much email” or sometimes, “I am re-signing up under another email address.” (Always like that one.) Unless something is really close to their hearts and souls, people surf through things to try. I’ve come to see that my lists is more like a parade going by, although I have had some readers for 20+ years. But I too, get off lists when I lose interest in a topic, or when I’m pruning to focus myself.

  • I think it’s good when people unsubscribed. I am not in the convincing business. I want to market to people who actually want to hear from me. Sometimes I may feel uneasy to think that someone would not want all “my pearls of wisdom” but let’s face it, not everyone wants what I have to sell, and that’s okay. The more targeted my subscriber list, the more sales I am bound to make. I always said I needed a thick skin and a tender heart to do this business. I love it.

  • Since most email services like Aweber, Constant Contact, etc., charge you more as your list gets bigger, the readers who unsubscribe are actually doing you a favor. Why pay to keep them on the list if they have no intention of EVER buying what you’re selling? Just like in real life conversations, I prefer a “heck no!” over a “maybe…call me next week, or when I get paid, or after I check with my husband, or next full moon…” If you take the emotion out of it and don’t receive it as rejection of YOU, it actually makes your job much easier. You know not to focus on that person and you free up your time to find the person for whom your product or business is exactly what they’ve been praying for!

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