Who the Heck Are You and Why Are You Emailing Me?

We're drowning in email - make sure YOURS doesn't add to the FLOOD in your subscriber's inbox!

Have you ever asked that question when an email lands in your inbox?

Who the heck ARE you and why are you emailing me about… (fill in the blank)?

I had another one of those moments this morning.  It took me about 20 minutes of Google searches and following rabbit hole trails to figure out that I’d opted-in to the person’s list months ago, for a freebie totally unrelated to what they had written in their email this morning, and I hadn’t heard from them since that freebie.

I unsubscribed.  After searching because the unsub link wasn’t easy to find.  Then the unsub link didn’t work.  I had to try unsubbing from just that list because the system couldn’t find me in their database.


But are we doing that to our subscribers without realizing it?!

What can you do to make sure that your subscribers know who you are and look forward to your emails instead of searching for the unsubscribe link.

1.  Identify Yourself Consistently

Don’t change “who” is sending the email.

One of the reasons I didn’t recognize this particular email was because the sender in the from line didn’t match the one that had sent me the freebie I requested and I didn’t connect her with the brand that offered and delivered the gift.

Either use your business in the from line, or your name in the from line, but keep it consistent.

2.  Send Mail to Your List Consistently

Don’t go months without emailing your list.  They’ll forget who you are and why they subscribed to your list.

If you haven’t emailed regularly, plan to start now.  You can recover from it but you’ll need to be extra careful as you work to build relationship with your list.

A couple tips if you need to recover from “oops I disappeared from my list” syndrome:

  • If you haven’t emailed in a while, don’t start back with hard sell promo and five emails in a week.  Give your subscribers a gift, some links to great resources, or a knock-their-socks-off awesome article.
  • Include a little note like… “You were added to my list when you requested XYZ” I would have immediately recognized who it was and why I was getting that email.  I’d also have been thinking about the positive value I had received instead of wondering how they got my email addy.
  • Offer them reassurance about what you’ll be sharing with them if they stay subscribed — something about what they can expect from you in the future.
  • Be consistent from here on out.

3.  If You Totally Change Directions… Don’t Keep Your Subscribers in the Dark

Seriously… if I opted in for a gift on how to create an organic garden and you’re suddenly sending me email about how I can learn to speak Russian overnight…  I’m going to unsubscribe, and probably be annoyed.

This email was something similar.  Completely unrelated to the gift I’d opted in for, and while I totally understand how we entrepreneurs tend to build different brands and have different projects going on, segmenting our lists is key to keeping subscribers happy and engaged.

What do you think?

Have you gotten emails like that, where you couldn’t figure out how you got on the list?  Did you have the “where’s the unsubscribe button?” reaction?

Or have you had to work to rebuild your relationship with your own list?  What worked for you?


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  1. My messages as the author of my blog is for notifying of new posts so I’m not having much of a problem with this. I was thinking about having a newsletter too but I think I’ll wait awhile. That 3 one certainly is a must though. I just readjusted my strategy and I write about it in my blog just to let my readers know that they’d be seeing small changes.
    Glynis Jolly recently posted… To My Friends At LiveJournalMy Profile

    1. Great approach, Glynis. We all like knowing that ‘inside” information of what’s changing and coming next so letting your readers know what to expect is smart strategy. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 15 Easy Ways Your Business Can Go Earth FriendlyMy Profile

  2. Hello Michelle,

    Yes, I’ve experienced the “I can’t remember subscribing to this list” and having a hard time unsubscribing. After numerous attempts and failures, I had to use drastic measures to get off the mailing list.

    I am guilty of doing #1. When I switched from Constant Contact to Aweber, I started to get quite a few op-tins from my blog and it took me awhile to send out my newsletter. I had a couple of unsubscribe, probably because of “I don’t remember you.”

    Presently, #1 and 2 are part of my marketing strategy.

    Great Tips!
    Adalia John recently posted… 5 Personality Profiles for Women EntrepreneursMy Profile

    1. I’ve been guilty of not sending out email frequently, too, and my tips in the post were how I recovered. ;)

      It’s crazy how mailing out more often actually gets more opens and less unsubscribes. At least, it seemed a bit crazy to me until I tried it. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Which Social Networks Will Best Showcase YOU as an Expert?My Profile

  3. Well, I just started an opt-in on my site so now I have to remember to send newsletters. How often do you think is the right amount – once a month?

    I have subscribed to blogs that don’t send often enough and then I unsubscribe from them. They don’t feel relevant any more.
    Michelle recently posted… Fibromyalgia and Family Impact Survey #blogboostMy Profile

  4. Hey Michelle,

    It’s really frustrating to receive unwanted emails and even more frustrating when you don’t find the option to unsubscribe it. I’ve been receiving such spammy emails for last 3 months and don’t know how to unsubscribe them as there is no unsubscribe option.

    Meanwhile I have marked these emails as spam so they’re directly going to spam folder but keep coming on daily basis. Can you suggest anyway to unsubscribe to such spammy emails.
    Aasma recently posted… Matrix, Binary MLM Software Providers Jaipur IndiaMy Profile

  5. Another timely article for me, Michelle. We’re just about to start a ‘reignite’ campaign for one of our lists… not actually an ezine type thing but more of a ‘spring cleaning and do you still want to be included’ as well as a ‘here’s what you can expect now in terms of value’ opportunity.

    Consistency has been a issue for us – partly in trying to avoid adding clutter to others inbox – has probably meant we’ve gone off their radar. We tend to advocate the ‘if you don’t have anything to say then don’t say it’ approach however I can also see now that too little contact is also a bad thing… people forget you.
    Ruth Crone recently posted… Only a minute… to get motivated in business.My Profile

  6. Really timely, thank you! I’ve neglected my list and really need to start emailing again. I feel guilty for letting it slide and don’t want to overwhelm people – so delay writing… A vicious circle and time to just bite the bullet.
    Jan recently posted… Learn How Google Search Works in 8 Minutes (start the clock!)My Profile

  7. I like “identify yourself consistently.” I have had the experience of opting into a list and then receiving messages from a different email other than the one I subscribed to. It raises a red flag to me.

    RE: Making “unsubscribes easy to find” – just the other day, I received a newsletter from someone and I couldn’t find their opt out. Didn’t even see a simple line saying “if you wish to unsubscribe, reply to this email.” So, I sent an email to them and haven’t heard back so I’m curious to see whether they comply.

    I’ll confess, when I started using LinkedIn, I began adding connections to my email list. I thought if they were connecting via LinkedIn, they wanted to hear from me. However, it didn’t take long for me to learn that “ain’t necessarily so.” I quickly stopped doing that because I do believe in email etiquette. I only want to be in inboxes of those who want to hear from me. And, I think we should all honor that.
    Thanks for your tips.

  8. Hi Michelle,

    I’ve been guilty of a number of these at some time in my blogging life, without intending to be rude. Thankfully
    I learned to observe Internet etiquette and have gotten better.

    Perhaps the most important one is to stay true to your original direction. You can always announce that you are changing directions and offer interested subscribers to now subscribe to the added direction. If they don’t join then they have spoken.

    Thanks for sharing these.
    Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. recently posted… Book Writing: An Inside Look at a ChapterMy Profile

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