The same topic has come up a couple of times in the last week so I felt it warranted a blog post! Interestingly it's come up from both sides of the equation.
Firstly, a friend asked me how he could stop receiving lots of spam emails. I asked him what he meant by "spam" and it ended up that he'd signed up for something, knowing that it meant he'd get junk from related companies but it was worth it for whatever freebie he was getting... But now he'd had enough of the 3rd party mailings and wanted to stop receiving them.
I told him to look for an "unsubscribe" link, probably at the bottom of the email (in the small print). It's a legal obligation that e-marketers should let you unsubscribe from a mailing list and clicking that link should do it. Sometimes, if they're old-skool, you need to reply with a certain message but generally now a days you just need to click the link and read what's on the following screen (just incase there's a 2nd link to click or anything).
What you really shouldn't do is mark them as spam. If you've - somehow or another - consented to getting those emails, or you've had dealings with those companies in the past (meaning they're legally allowed to email you) then strictly speaking they're not spam. So if you don't like the content or frequency of their emails, or just aren't interested any more - simply unsubscribe.
The reason for not marking them as spam is that you could damage their reputation as an emailer. And subsequently damage the reputation of their server and other - completely unrelated - websites/companies on it.
Which leads me to the 2nd example of this this week.
A client emailed her customer list - people who'd shopped with her before - with details of a product update. According to her stats a couple of people unsubscribed but nothing dramatic.
However I received an email from her hosts saying that her website had been reported as spamming, which could damage their server and if the client didn't explain herself within 48 hours action would be taken which could mean taking her site offline!
I quickly spoke to the client and emailed the hosting provider - I'm yet to get a reply / know the outcome.
But she wasn't spamming in the true sense of the word, she was emailing past customers. So ok, maybe they didn't want the message - and we are bombarded so much now a days it can get a little too much. But if those people had just unsubscribed they wouldn't be potentially getting her website taken offline, or damaging the reputation of the hosting company and various other websites they host.
So next time you get something you don't want - just unsubscribe and move on with your life. Think before you spam!