Changing your name (and losing credibility with your subscribers)

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So yesterday I got an email.  From an unknown sender.  It looks like an association of storage user groups reorganized under a new name, with new sponsors.  This is all a surprise, since this association has been MIA for the past 6+ months.  Perhaps even since the beginning of the year.

So the first email basically recapped the new name, in a round about way.  And then this morning my email box was deluded. First I saw 6 or 8 snippy emails about how to get removed from the list.  This is pretty common, since other lists I am on have the same challenge, especially tech lists on old-school versions of Lyris.  So I just skimmed the messages and laughed.

But I was wrong, as I got further into my emails (I sort with newest on top) I saw 70 emails, at least, requesting removal from the list.  The second email from the dormant list was a pitch to sponsor a local event.  (I hope this was only the Bay Area User Group emails, I have no idea!).  And at least one person found it relevant, from the industry association.  But everyone else looked annoyed.  To the tune of 70 people.

Some of the responses:

  • Stop emailing, the list owners are based in California, they won’t be in the office to respond for at least another hour
  • Spare the Blackberry users from the deluge of emails
  • The unsubscribe email is bouncing, who can I b*tch out?
  • Maybe next time you can get a high school kid to show you how email works.

Who knew email could inspire so much bitterness!

And they made another huge mistake.  The list was created essentially as an email alias or distribution list, not using an email service.  One person is managing the list.  And her email address was wrong.  And referred to multiple times as the instructions to unsubscribe.  It didn’t work.  And inspired more animosity.  And more messages.  That was a crappy start to the day…..dozens of angry emails.

Some email dos and don’ts from this experience

  1. Make sure your opt-out/unsubscribe process works
  2. Make it difficult for people on a mailing list to reply to all
  3. Don’t forget, if you change your name or identity to explain it clearly to your audience
  4. Don’t increase mailing frequency without warning your subscribers

And here are some other posts on email best practices:

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