Bloggie Wednesday: Auto-Subscribing People To Your Newsletters

Bloggie Wednesday: Auto-Subscribing People To Your Newsletters

© bloomua

Have you noticed that you’ve been getting email newsletters from companies that you didn’t even know existed? I’m not talking about random spam emails on SEO and web development but legit newsletters from the retail sector? They could be small companies (usually with something to sell) that you’ve never heard of and yet, you’re somehow subscribed to their newsletter without you actually signing up.

Magic? Hardly. They were auto-subscribing people to their email list. In my books, it’s spam. And it’s certainly not cool.

This is one of the most annoying aspect that can come of email list-building. I’ve also noticed a rise in the number of bloggers doing that in the past year or so. I’ve never heard of these bloggers yet I found myself “subscribed” to their newletters. When I clicked on the Unsubscribe link, I noticed that, most of the time, the names of the email lists are “Beauty Bloggers” or “Bloggers”. The bloggers in question have automatically added my email address to their mailing list without my permission. I certainly didn’t opt for their newsletters. To risk sounding conceited, I’ve never even heard of them.

It’s not difficult to get email addresses from PR databases or even Googling blogs to find email addresses to be inserted into mailing lists. If the newsletters are infrequent, chances are a lot of people wouldn’t even notice that they have not signed up for the email list in the first place. While there will be people unsubscribing from the newsletter that they didn’t sign up for as soon as they received the first one, most people would simply delete that email and move on. The problem is, they don’t realise that their email address is still on that email list, that database.

Auto-subscribing people to email lists is considered as spam. Permission was not given to the brand/company/blog when they added email addresses to their database. In Australia, we have the Spam Act 2003 that prohibits the sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages (known as spam) with an Australian link. A message has an Australian link if it originates or was commissioned in Australia, or originates overseas but was sent to an address accessed in Australia. If you’re an Australian retailer, marketer or blogger, please be aware of this.

If you’re a blogger and you’re building your email list, please do not auto-subscribe your readers to your newsletter. Give your readers options and rewards for signing up (these are called “lead magnets”) but let it be their choice to do so. Give them incentives for signing up if you like. Try offering a free download, free ebook, important information … anything! Most importantly, give your readers the choice to sign up for your newsletter. You may have very loyal readers whom you think would be all right for you to automatically add their email addresses to your mailing list but when you do it without their permission, you can lose those readers just like that. *snap*

Don’t let this discourage you from builing your email list. Like I said before, give your readers a reason to want to subscribe to your newsletters. List-building takes time but it’s worth it. Don’t risk losing your readers (and who knows, potential customers for any products you may make and sell in future) by making this mistake.

What are your thoughts about auto-subscription of newsletters? Are you all right with it or does it annoy you?

Source: ACMA

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18 comments… add one
  1. LeGeeque

    IT ANNOYS ME! How dare they be THAT presumptive that I’m interested in their products to begin with? There’s also another aspect to this that’s been bubbling in the UI/UX communities. When a user signs up to a particular website, there’s usually a disclaimer indicating you’re 18/21 and above and all the legal reasons. The field is mandatory and each user is meant to check the box for legal reasons. Of late, websites have been sneakily inserting another box lined up really close to the legal disclaimer. This check box is automatically ticked and it is the culprit that’s automatically subscribing you to newsletters. Most users, we’ve noticed skim through the page and hence, they’re usually “caught” by this. My word of advice? Look through what the checkboxes are before you hit the ‘submit’ button. And, if you encounter websites that are doing this, file a report to the relevant authorities.

    1. Tine

      Ahhh the sneaky tiny print check box! Ooooh I detest those! They should make it illegal for print to be so tiny and to have the checkbox automatically checked. There should be a rule for minimum font size for this sort of thing. I’ve seen some blogs that have the box “sign me up to your newsletter” automatically checked when a person leaves a comment. By clicking on Submit Comment and having that box automatically checked, well, there you go, another sign-up!

  2. Kerri @ Beauty & Things

    This happened to me! I commented on a youtuber’s blog and next thing I know, I started receiving their newsletters. I didn’t bother unsubscribing because I actually liked reading their content but found it annoying how they used my email without my permission.
    Kerri @ Beauty & Things recently posted..Recent Bargain Buys feat. Lovisa, Ikea & Trade SecretMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Oh I know the kind! See, it’s the bloggers/YouTubers/content creators that we like that makes us feel iffy about liking them because of this sort of shit they pull. I’m happy to subscribe to content I like and I do subscribe to many bloggers’ newsletters because I want to get their content via email. But for heavens’ sake, give me that choice to opt in!

  3. Norlin

    OOOH two words – HATE IT! I think it’s rather rude to just auto-subscribe someone to your newsletter. I mean wouldn’t people rather have GENUINE people subscribe??
    Norlin recently posted..Health & Lifestyle: Moroccan Spice RiceMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Nail on the head, Norlin. Nail on the head. It baffles me greatly why brands/bloggers would do this automatic subscribe thing because 1) they’re unlikely to be getting the audience they want, which means they also most likely won’t be getting those conversions and 2) they have to pay for all these extra subscribers for the mailing list provider.

  4. Kat Ness

    Oh how annoying! I’m glad I haven’t experienced this. I decided not to display my email publicly on my blog in case of spam but also it has my full name and I can’t be bothered to name another email for the blog as it’ll be my 5th email haha.
    Kat Ness recently posted..Makeup Clean UpMy Profile

    1. Tine

      It’s annoying but it’s also troubling when bloggers do this. I wouldn’t think twice of retailers doing this (sneaking lil’ buggers) but when I find myself subscribed to a blogger’s newsletter without notice, I’d think twice about even checking the blogger out. Having said that, I must admit, I did auto-subscribe ONE person to my newsletter. My mother. 😛

  5. Stephanie

    I hate companies automatically subscribing my blogs email address to their newsletters! I got one in the last few days that I know I didn’t subscribe to, I always use my personal email address for accounts with online shops or mailing lists. It’s really annoying!
    Stephanie recently posted..10 of the Best Australian Beauty BrandsMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Me too! I too use my personal email address for online shopping. The blog address is usually for mailing lists. When I started to see a crossover, that’s when I go GRRRRRR!!

      Online retailers should have a checkbox with the condition “by clicking on this checkbox and purchasing the item, you’re agreeing to be on our mailing list for information etc etc”.

  6. gio

    This is so rude and annoying! It has happened to me quite a few times. I wouldn’t mind so much if the content of these newsletters were helfpful and interesting, but it very rarely is. It’s just spam. And it’s not a good way to build a list anyway. Sure, you will quickly gain a lot of “subscribers”, but what’s the point if people don’t read them or buy their products etc? *sighs*
    gio recently posted..Product Review: My Beauty Diary Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing MaskMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Exactly, Gio! You want people who’s interested in your products. You want those to convert to sales. People who aren’t interested at all have no business being on that mailing list. It can be expensive to maintain a mailing list (most providers charge by the number of subscribers/emails sent per month).

  7. Kate from Seduced by Beauty

    That makes a lot of sense now as to why I have been receiving emails from people who I know I haven’t subscribed to! I generally put them in the trash without reading or if it is becoming a real problem I unsubscribe.

    Another thing that bugs me is when I comment on a blog and then find out it is linked to Facebook and my comments are visible on my personal Facebook page. I have been under the impression that I am commenting on the blog – not on Facebook – only to find out that it is on FB. It is probably me not looking at the correct spot on the blog but I don’t want to have to always check to see where my comments are going to end up.

    It is not that I am saying something that I don’t want in the public – it is just that I don’t think my friends would want to read me raving about beauty products all the time!
    Kate from Seduced by Beauty recently posted..7 beautiful Australian products for a lazy Australia DayMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Ahhh I know what you mean. I’ve seen quite a lot of blogs doing this the past year or two; instead of using the blogging platform’s comment system, they use Facebook instead. So instead of leaving comments the usual way, you’re actually leaving comments via Facebook, which will appear on your personal Facebook page (just like when you like a photo, share a story, etc). I’ve been checking out their privacy settings and I don’t think you can prevent comments you leave via this sort of Facebook commenting system to show up on your personal feed.

      1. Hilary

        Going to weigh in on this to say ME TOO!! 99% of my friends don’t care about beauty and I would loose massive street cred if they knew about my girlie obsession side, so I really really don’t want anyone to know about my comments on blogs (plus the relative anonymity with just my name against my comments gives me more freedom to be more honest I find or comment on things that I wouldn’t want FB people to see perhaps (I’m thinking MoonCup threads – I have way too many male friends that don’t need to hear me talk about that, thank you very much).

        I also hate blogs that I can’t comment on without being a member of some Google group or other, or the latest social media (?) or other internet type communications thing that I either don’t have an account for, or did create one for years ago and have no idea of the email/name/password or anything, and its super hard to get your details sent to you again, so I can’t log on to post. BEYOND FRICKING FRUSTRATING.

        I make a point of not going back to those blogs – I want to communicate with you, that’s why I’m reading your blog (otherwise I would just get a book from the library). If you make it ultra ultra hard for anyone over the age of 21 to communicate with you, well, I just won’t then.

        Another reason I LOVE your blog Tine – I only have to know my name and email address and I’m allowed to post – I’m too old and too busy for stupid childish internet accounts!!! (Sorry, I cannot tell you how angry this makes me, hence the totally OTT rant).

        Adddd….breathe 😛

        1. Tine

          Hahahaa breathe Hilary breathe! I totally understand what you mean. It took me a while to get on Disqus because I didn’t want to have to sign up to an account in order to leave a comment. Of course, with Disqus, you can use your Twitter handle to leave a comment but my Twitter name is so different from my blog name that I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for an account as well just so people would know who that comment came from.

  8. Paris B

    Pet peeve!! Whenever I receive an unsolicited newsletter (I only voluntarily subscribed you yours for blogs hehe!) the first thing I do is look for the unsubscribe link and mark it as spam. If there isn’t one (and you’re be surprised at how some of them don’t!) I mark them as spam in gmail. Gmail, for what its worth, is pretty clever at remembering what I dislike so these days, I wake up to more spam mails than real mails 😀
    Paris B recently posted..Should I use a cleansing oil or cleansing balm? Some tips on which to pickMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Haha same here!
      I usually just click on the Unsubscribe link. One thing I like about Mailchimp is that when you click on Unsubscribe, when you’re unsubscribed from the mailing list, they’ll ask you to leave a reason why you unsubscribed (optional to answer). I always, ALWAYS click on “I never signed up for this mailing list”. 😛

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