Be Careful Forwarding Email Newsletters

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 04:00 AM with 3 comments

Email Newsletters, or simply newsletters, are an extremely efficient way to communicate your brand, message or whatever you want to say clearly, easily and economically. My Internet consulting firm, Dunkirk Systems, LLC, now offers newsletter services, and we have started a newsletter for our clients. As great as they are, most every one has a fatal flaw that can cause subscribers to be involuntarily unsubscribed without them knowing.

Have I scared anyone yet? It may or may not be that big of an issue, but it needs to be recognized. Just about every newsletter has an unsubscribe link which will almost instantly block the subscriber from ever getting another email from the sender. This is a good thing. Not only does it help people manage their email, but it complies with the CAN-SPAM Act. The link to unsubscribe is usually very prominent in a newsletter, and can even be in multiple places. The link is most always built into the design, and the key words there are “built into” as this means that link will be passed along with the newsletter if the email message that delivered it is forwarded to others within an email program or Web interface.

In other words, if you receive an email from someone containing a forwarded newsletter, if you click on the unsubscribe link in the newsletter, you have unsubscribed that person from it! As my 15-month old daughter would say, “uh-oh.” It is not to say every time a newsletter is forwarded this will happen, rather it is to say there is a reality it can happen and everybody needs to be aware of it.

So how can this be prevented? The person who received the newsletter and wants to forward it to others can simply delete the link from the message before they send it. That is, if they remember to. For the newsletter sender, they can always add a “forward to a friend link” to the newsletter as many email marketing services offer this, including Dunkirk. Some may either ignore this or may choose not to use it, namely as the forwarder may not want their recipients tracked. Plus it’s much easier to hit the forward button in an email program and enter a few auto-completed recipients and press send instead of using a forward function of a newsletter.

Just some friendly advice for readers of The Hot Iron, as well as a call to action to email marketing services to brainstorm ideas to prevent this. In case you were wondering if I have ever unsubscribed anyone from a newsletter inadvertently, I plead the fifth!

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