Season Finale: Complaints and unsubscribes

Email’s Not Dead: Season 1, Episode 7

Season Finale: Complaints and unsubscribes

Email's Not Dead

About this episode:

Can you still be friends with your customers after an unsubscribe? Learn why it's best to have organic email addresses and different options for your unsubscribes with Jon and Eric in the season finale of Email’s Not Dead. 

Meet your presenters

Jonathan Torres

Jonathan Torres

Manager of the TAM team at Sinch Mailgun

Eric Trinidad

Eric Trinidad

Technical Account Manager II at Sinch Mailgun


Email’s Not Dead – S1, E7: Complaints and unsubscribes



Eric Trinidad: Hello and welcome again to Emails Not Dead. My name is Eric and I am a technical account manager. And with me is my brochacho. Jonathan.


Jonathan Torres: Yes.


Eric Trinidad: How are you, sir?


Jonathan Torres: Doing all right, man. You?


Eric Trinidad: Doing okay, doing okay. We're here this week to continue our series on just email good habits and doing the best practices that you can to be a good person. Last time we talked and you listened. We did tracking and engagement. We did sunsetting on some of the policies that you have. This week we're going to concentrate more on complaints, unsubscribe, your list hygiene. You got to keep it clean, you know, and of course, user collection. Like, how do you get it? What's happening? What do you think?


Jonathan Torres: Yeah. I mean like it's like it's exactly what we talked about last time. Right. We've already done and we've harped on this I think the past few weeks like a lot is just the engagement, like keeping track of people, making sure that you know, that you have the right audience for the messages you're trying to send out. So where are these people coming from? Like, that's what we want to find out today, is where your addresses are coming from. What's the best way to kind of make sure that you don't get in trouble with addresses and where you're getting them from? So, yeah, that's exactly what we need to kind of start, you know, harping on. So, you know, the addresses that you're consuming and you're getting into your list or are they, you know, free range, gluten free, organic like what is it we're talking about here?


Eric Trinidad: So, yeah, I mean, there's definitely a rise in that of being free range. I feel like, you know, there's definitely a lot of those that are gluten free out there. You know, there's a lot of businesses here in town that have gone gluten free. Oh, yeah. I can't remember the name. What's the taco place?


Jonathan Torres: I know there's a Señor Veggie.


Eric Trinidad: There you go.


Jonathan Torres: In San Antonio, Texas. Yes.


Eric Trinidad: Awesome.


Jonathan Torres: Just to name drop a couple of places. So and then of course the organic piece. Right? You can't forget organic. So in food organic we all know what that means and maybe some people don't know what it means. But that's not what we're about. When we talk about organic address collection, that's a very different story that we know. So, you know, is it something that, you know, somebody bought something from you and you are now sending the messages because they said, hey, I like your stuff, please send me more information about the stuff you're doing in the future or new products or product updates. So organic user growth. Right. Like that. And someone that you communicated with, somebody that you've had an interaction with previously and now you're sending to them as part of your list because you're allowed to. They gave you that permission. There's also people coming into websites. Right. So if you can come in a website and you're like, hey, this looks cool, but maybe not right now, you know, like I usually do with cruises, I don't know why I always come back to cruises, but I really want to go on a cruise at some point in the future.


Eric Trinidad: Now you're going to get all emails.


Jonathan Torres: I know. Well, hopefully, it's organic, though. So hopefully it's me going into a website and saying, hey, here's my email address. I want to know about the cruise. Send me your next opportunity.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah. Well, why do we prefer organic over processed? Well, one is we know exactly where it comes from. You know, if it's farm fed or grass-fed, you know, that means maybe you only ate grass, you know, and it only came to your website. So you know where it's from. If you purchase from a third party or something that's more processed, you don't know where that list is coming from. You don't know. Is it valid? Is this a good user? Is this actually a real person? You don't know that. So it's better to have it, you know, come from a source that you know and trust, which is your own website.


Jonathan Torres: Exactly. You want to break it down all the way to the nice least risky, really overall, you know, and I mean, even when you break that down. Right, even if when you have a website and you have someplace users can go and sign up, you want to be careful with how you consume that information, too, because if you have just a web form out there that somebody can go in and fill out information, that I can go sign up for my cruise emails. How do you know somebody isn't going to go in there malicious, put them maliciously, put something in or, you know, a bunch of bad addresses or, you know, even, use it as part of a spam system because that's something that we've seen. I know I've talked about it a lot to people around me in the past. And I don't know, I might have mentioned it on here. But, you know, list bombing is definitely a thing. And if you're not protecting yourself with something like captcha right in the beginning, like right in your web form, to protect it from bots going in there and doing stuff, your list can easily become part of a mail bomb list where people run programs out there to start subscribing users to just about every single list that is open in this way, where there isn't any kind of protection, there isn't any kind of captcha, there isn't any kind of, you know, safeguards against bots coming in and using it to basically spam a particular user's mailbox. And why is it important? Why does that matter? Well, people usually use that kind of stuff for malicious purposes. So if you get a password reset email, it's one of those things. It's things that people do to protect, you know, the user, the end user, but if I find out your password and want to compromise your account, change the password and lock you out. Well, hey, I can do those steps and then I can, boom, throw some mail bombs at you. And then all of a sudden your mailbox is inundated with new emails. So you will never see that user password reset warning to let you know that, hey, something's happening with your account. So it's those kinds of malicious things that you're trying to watch out for. And then just the fact that, like a bot can access your system is not good. So captcha, captcha, captcha.


Eric Trinidad: There you go.


Jonathan Torres: And you have to say it that way because usually you're having to do captcha multiple times. You know, someday I'll learn what all the fire hydrants look like.


Eric Trinidad: Or crosswalks or busses.


Jonathan Torres: Yeah, you know, sometimes you miss one.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah. Or I didn't see that bus behind that tree.


Jonathan Torres: Yeah. He was hiding so well.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah. Well that brings up a great point. Well okay you got a captcha boom. Okay, the users essentially verified if they were able to pass through the gauntlet, you know, to find the Holy Grail and get through. Now that you have that address, you need to validate it also. Making sure that this address that they entered in is correct. Like myself, I have very large fingers and there's a chance that I could mess that up.


Jonathan Torres: Mess it up or miss letters. Please tell me you're not a gmall person, are you? gmall.com.


Eric Trinidad: I've done it so many times or I'm not even paying attention and I just put gmale, like female and male, you know, just to make sure they know I'm a guy and I'm you know, I just want to get access to these deodorants or whatever.


Jonathan Torres: Yeah, definitely.


Eric Trinidad: Especially in a small room like we are today. It's very important for deodorant.


Jonathan Torres: But yeah, absolutely. So you want to make sure you have some validation check in place, some place that's checking their syntax errors, some places checking that they actually do exist someplace that's checking maybe that address says yes. Been in your system and you've done it, but it's been a while. So before sending out maybe do a validation, check it out, see if it's still out there, if it's still valid. You know, sometimes there are some systems like like we have that you can, you know, maybe attach it to the back end of your of your website and check it that way.


Jonathan Torres: It's always good to see exactly that. And sometimes it is just syntax errors. There's a lot of times where, you know, a user will be using things like or I guess the next part of that you would want to look at is role addresses because if you're getting like a manager's at or info at, like you don't know how many people are going to get that message once it comes through. So that's definitely one of the things that you want to, you know, check and make sure that it's out there. Validation checks, a lot of validation. Services will also check for temporary mailboxes. So if it's a mailbox service, that will just allow you to send messages for a day or a day or two. And let's say you're sending out a coupon, right. You have to sign up for your mailing list to get a ten percent off coupon. Well, I mean, it's not bad. It's a good way to entice users to be part of your mailing list. But if they just go out there and use a temporary mailbox service to put a fake email address, essentially just to get the coupon, use the coupon and then leave, that can then become problematic. So a lot of times we see that as a problem, temporary mailboxes. But it really is a result of you or. Not you! Let's not going accusatory.


Eric Trinidad: Jonathan, is it me?. No, no. You're not doing anything wrong. What it is, id that I think email for a long time had a reputation of, hey, if I put my email address in any location, whether I think it's good or bad, whether I think they're doing the right thing or not, they're just going to abuse it and they're going to start sending me emails, going to spam my message box. They're going to sell my email address. So we need to start correcting that as a whole. You know, that's the accusatory we. The collective we. All of us are sending email. We have to make sure we're doing the right things and doing the right things with and for users to be able to do that stuff, because we want to be able to get our communications out to everybody out there in the world. But if we don't do it right and we don't do the right things with it, it's going to come back and burn us just like it already has, because these temporary mailbox services have a reason that were created and they have a reason why they exist. So not that we need to combat them and fight them, but we need to do the right thing so we can gain that trust back from everybody that we're trying to email to right now.


Eric Trinidad: And all this kind of wraps around, you know, is a great, you know, kind of segway into when we need to stop actually checking these addresses and checking, you know, for these addresses. Like to see if these users actually address, is it a fake mailbox like we were talking about, you know? So what do you think is a good time to remove one of these addresses?


Jonathan Torres: Well, I think we talked a lot about that.


Eric Trinidad: No, no. Sorry I meant to say, when is a good time to stop actually, like not removing the addresses, but like to stop checking for addresses to see if these addresses actually exist.


Jonathan Torres: Never. Yeah. You never want to stop. You know, that's kind of the thing is that, you know, when you have something like that, like sometimes I don't know, you lose sight of what is good. And sometimes we just don't see like the benefit of it, right, like sometimes we just, it works and it starts working and it does its thing and then it's doing its thing for so long that all of a sudden it's like, okay, cool, I don't need this anymore because everybody's doing the right thing. And then you remove it and then you see how much it was actually helping you. So, you know, hopefully that's not the case. But yeah, soap, water, rinse, repeat. You don't stop doing it.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah. You got to wash your hands every day.


Jonathan Torres: You got to do it.


Eric Trinidad: Every day. I hope you wash your hands more than one time of day.


Jonathan Torres: At least.


Eric Trinidad: That's a great segway going into list hygiene, keeping it clean, you know, making sure that these addresses like this is a process that's never going to stop because you always have to check. You don't know what addresses are out there. The list that you get, if you keep great tabs on it, awesome, great. But you still need to, you know, need to maintain those lists. Users mailboxes can get over quota. Things can happen. People can get their mailboxes disabled. You know, the things that you don't want to be delivering mailboxes, delivering to mailboxes that, you know, just aren't going to be engaged or give you something back on your investment, on sending those messages to them.


Jonathan Torres: You sometimes lose people not because they don't want your stuff anymore, but because for some reason it doesn't exist anymore. You know, that does happen. Like sometimes services are removed, sometimes domains expire. Sometimes they go away and you will see things like all of a sudden no MX records come up, and, when you start getting messages like that or messages that are bouncing for those kind of reasons, like why? Why are you still sending to those addresses? Right. Just going to get you in trouble later on down the line or can get you in trouble later on. And not that it will, but it's a possibility. It's a higher possibility for doing that. Users are over quota exactly like you were saying. You know, sometimes that happens with an abandoned mailbox like it was a good user, it was an active user, and all of a sudden they stop opening stuff. So, yeah, get rid of it like it doesn't need to be there if you're not getting your stuff anyway. So, yeah. Like just making sure that you're constantly removing, constantly getting that stuff out. So yeah it definitely goes along with like list hygiene and the stuff that we talked about last time. So tracking that engagement, tracking, you know what they're doing, what the user is doing with the interactions that you're trying to do and then making it available for them to have options. That's another thing that we've covered in previous podcast. You know, if they have different avenues to communicate with you, different ways to interact with you, that they might prefer awesome giving those options. But we don't want to necessarily just keep spamming them or just keep sending them email, really just just over repeatedly if they're not doing anything with it. Because at that point, what's the point? What is really the point?


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, I think this goes back into like really getting that relationship. Big ISPs like like Gmail, they really concentrate on the relationship aspect that you as a sender and the recipient have, you know, what are you doing with those messages? Are you engaged with them? Are you talking back? Are you clicking them, opening them? You know, are you just deleting them without opening them? Like, are you just really listening? Do you know what's happening, you know, with those messages, you know? And then what happens if they decide, like, hey, I actually you know what? I appreciate you. It's not you, it's me. I'm just not ready for this ad at this time. You know, I'm going to go ahead and yeah, I think that's it for me. I think I just received too much of your stuff. I'm just going to, you know, mark it as spam.


Jonathan Torres: Well, that's the danger, right? That's a little bit we don't want to get at. So and then it comes to what you do with that kind of stuff. Right. So we really want to make sure that, you know, if you get a complaint, what are you doing? What's happening? Like, why is that like what is the process? What are we doing? What's going on with it? So, I mean, to kind of get that that part of the conversation going, if somebody complains, you should remove them. Right. Like, that's kind of rule number one. If somebody says I don't want these anymore, like, I think this is spam. I'm reporting this back up and you get a report that is a complaint report from somebody like Yahoo or Microsoft or really anybody who does that through feedback loops. You want to obey that and you want to make sure you get rid of that user expeditedly. You don't want to wait. You don't want to say like, hey, it's going to take 24, 48 a week to process your removal, like, get rid of them. If they said they don't want you anymore, they might not want you anymore. So rather than making it more upset, keep them sending them emails, trying to do different things like that, get rid of them, remove them from your list, because you've already gotten to the point where somebody saying like, hey, I don't want this. And usually that's a big step for a user. You know, there isn't a whole lot of times where somebody goes in there and it's like, OK, I'm just gonna move to spam folder. I'm just going to delete it, you know? And then that's fine. It's easier, right? It's convenient. But for somebody to actually click on a message and say, this is spam, don't send me anything anymore. Like, that's a big step and that takes user interaction. That's going to be a lot more than just like, oh, let me just remove it right now.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah. So if you think about it, like really in your daily life, how many times do you mark messages of spam?


Jonathan Torres: It's easier. Just hit the delete button yet. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.


Eric Trinidad: So if I'm receiving these enough and I'm like like I just can't believe it, I'm still getting these messages, like, I don't know where I signed up for this. I don't even talk to these guys anymore. Like, I've deleted these messages. I don't know how many times I'm just going to mark it as spam. To kind of avoid that, again, check your list, like, is this user engaged, do you have a sunset policy in place to where you're not berating, you know, these people and saying, hey, did you hear that last time? What about this time? What about this time? What about this time? What about this time? Even though they haven't been engaged or opened or clicked messages? So it's good to have those policies in place.


Jonathan Torres: Yeah, I know that is definitely good, because if you don't and you start getting a lot of those, if you're not taking care of the processes like we talked about last time with all this engagement thing, you know, sunset policies and, you know, everything else, we kind of harp on over and over again when we're talking about the subject and you start getting a lot of complaints and people start, you know, just sending you to the spam folder and doing things. Everybody tracks that. And we've mentioned that here over and over again. And that's one of the things that can really make your reputation go down quickly. If stuff like that starts happening, if you offend somebody with an email and if people get very offended with something like it's not just a quick like, oh, you know, one or two people. And then my reputation kind of suffers a little bit. No, it's like it can be a flood of things and it can get you in trouble very quickly. So making sure that you're hitting, one, the right audience, that you're just sending good email like things that people want to hear and want to see. And it's part of what you're doing and why they signed up for your to receive your e-mails in the first place. You know, it's definitely a good thing. And then making sure that you're just very careful and trying to prevent those things. So if you're not tracking engagement and you're just sending to people blindly, like that's when you can get into those situations where somebody can complain against your stuff. Because like you said, what does it take? You know, it takes a few dozen emails that you get that you don't want to see anymore. That you just keep getting no matter what you're doing with them does matter if you're deleting them as a matter what's going on, you still keep getting them. And it's at that point, like after you haven't interacted, after you haven't done anything, after you have, you know, you keep deleting these and then you complain. So it's definitely not just sentiment from us. Like it's something that people just do, like it's it's natural. So the quicker you can remove them, the quicker you can remove them. Once they're not engaging. Yes, get rid of them and get them out of there because there's no reason to kind of keep sending to them. If they're not doing anything with your messages.


Eric Trinidad: Well, then I guess the better way to receive that interaction from somebody and the way that we would rather receive a notification that you don't want to receive messages anymore from somebody is, you know, the unsubscribe link. I'm making sure that's visible, making sure that, you know, you actually have it in there. Making it easy for somebody to unsubscribe is a lot. Receiving that feedback is like a lot better than getting a complaint for.


Jonathan Torres: So what you're saying is, well, I don't know if this is any better, though, but rather than getting dumped or ghosted. Ghosted, might be the most offensive, right? Like, I don't know if everybody is going to know that.


Eric Trinidad: What ghosted is?


Jonathan Torres: Yeah. Do you know what ghosted is?


Eric Trinidad: Yes. Yes, I do know. Okay, do you want to explain?


Jonathan Torres: Did someone ghost you Eric? Have you been that offended.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah. You know I've been a ghoster and a ghostee. I know, I know. But you know, it's when you know you just stop engaging, you know, you just stop interacting, you just stop. You do that. You, like, fade away. You know, you just like moonwalk into hedges like Homer Simpson does, you know?


Jonathan Torres: You know, that's probably the worst way to break up with somebody. By the way, don't ever do that. But that's kind of what complaining is, too, though. Like when you look at complaints, like it hurts, like you don't want somebody to like, say like, oh, your stuff is so offensive to me. Or like, I don't want your stuff so much that I'm just going to complain against you. Like, it's a little offensive. But, you know, there's always the friendzone also. Not great, you know, definitely not something you want to see or feel or be on that level. But, you know, sometimes that's a little bit better. And those are the unsubscribes that's like in the relationship world equivalent. You know, the friendzone is definitely the unsubscribes zone.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah. And I think I've done that to a few things. You know, I've definitely unsubscribe from, you know, specific newsletters. And I was really into, you know kind of back in the day and, you know, like I used to watch a lot of that. I don't know if you know like a Diggnation was this huge podcast when podcasts were first coming out. It was a video podcast. And they did all these like news articles. And man, I used to like I subscribe to that every day. And like, they would always post these things. And then I just realized and this happened like a month ago, this is so fresh. I just realized that I haven't opened one of their emails or newsletters in like months really, or like not even months, but like actually years.


Jonathan Torres: Really?


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, like it was like my mailbox was terrible, like hundreds of messages, hundreds and hundreds, if not two thousand messages.


Jonathan Torres:  If they were tracking engagement.


Eric Trinidad: I was on the latter side of that spectrum and I was like, you know what, I know where this site is. I know that if I want some kind of like, squirrely news like or something that's kind of like out of left field. I know where to go, but, you know, for now I'm just going to unsubscribe to this because I'm not even reading any of these, you know. Sorry Digg, you're awesome.


Jonathan Torres: But just not today.


Eric Trinidad: Not today. Yeah, I'll come back to you when I get my emailbox in order.


Jonathan Torres: Yeah, and that's exactly what it means. I mean, I know there are certain things that I just don't need all the time. You know, if I'm getting ready to buy a house, then, yes, I'm going to subscribe some places that might be able to help me out with a home loan. But once I buy a house, I don't need a home loan anymore like I've gotten where I need to be. You know, if I do feel like I need to refinance, like, I'll go look for it again. And that's OK. That's not a bad thing. I'd rather than somebody, you know, making it that I can't unsubscribe or that I try to unsubscribe and that can't unsubscribe because they keep sending me stuff like that is way more offensive. Like I'm less likely to use your services at that point. Like I don't have a need for your services if you're just going to do that kind of stuff to me because I said no, no means no. You know, and then maybe warm up to the relationship again. But we need to respect that part of it when you respect those rules, because if you don't, then you can really, truly offend somebody. And then and that's unsubscribe turns such into a complaint and then you're in really big trouble. So that's what we're trying to avoid and that's what we're trying to prevent. So, yes. Definitely, definitely, check that out. And really, you know, when it comes down to it and you look at unsubscribes, there are some places that do really could unsubscribe options I know a few of them me, like I don't want to keep name dropping people, but there's definitely a newsletter that's sending some really cool stuff, like I'm into electronics, I'm into music and sound, and it's just a bunch of different stuff, even some style. I don't always show that I'm dressed in style, but, you know, it's I like it sometimes. I just maybe once in a while. I have dreams of dressing up and looking nice, but that hardly ever happens.


Eric Trinidad: Hardly ever happens.


Jonathan Torres: Don't shake your head at me.


Eric Trinidad: I was shaking my head that entire time.


Jonathan Torres: But, you know, it's definitely one of those things I do like getting stuff in my inbox to let me know what's out there and what's available for me to check out. But I don't necessarily need it every day. I don't want it every day. And there's definitely a subscription service that sends me a bunch. They send me electronic stuff, they send me music stuff, they send me clothing stuff like and it's all stuff that I've said. Yes, like I'm interested. Hit me up. I want to see what's out there and what's new and what's available for me to purchase, but only do it once a week. And they have the customization available like, I can get something every day. I can get something two, three or four times a day if I really wanted to. But I don't have the ability to look at my mailbox that often and really see that kind of stuff. Even then, when they send me the once-a-week email, I'm like, okay, cool, let me check this out. Look, through a few things. A lot of times I'll even click on something just to take me to their web page so I can see what else I've missed throughout the week. But I don't need it every day. I don't want it every day. So rather than only giving me an option to either get daily or nothing, they give me that option to do once a week, once a month even. Oh, really? Like really pick and choose. What's the kind of stuff that I do want to be e-mailed about and what's the kind of stuff I just want in my feed whenever I go to their website. So, you know, user customization like, you know, customization to give the audience what they want and really narrow it down as much as they want to is super, super helpful. I know if I'm like that, I'm no, I'm not the only person who's like that. I know there's a lot of people out there who really, really do that kind of stuff and really want to only see it every once in a while. Or maybe they do want it all the time and that's great. Give them that option. But if you don't have any options, that makes it a lot more difficult.


Eric Trinidad: Well right on. Well, if you want to see a picture of Jonathan in his top hat and his gold chain with his alarm clock around his neck, please let us know.


Jonathan Torres: That is definitely, definitely not happening.


Eric Trinidad: Check out all his fashion news and tips on his fashion top podcast.


Jonathan Torres: Maybe we'll have to start one. And we have to start dressing up and do that.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, we'll see.


Jonathan Torres: Until then, probably not going to happen.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, well, I think that wraps it up for this week, you know, at the end of this. Well, actually, at this time we're wrapping up season one. We're going to be concentrating on a few other things, some video post we're going to be doing on the website. So please go check us out at Mailgun.com, but also look at some of the information or documentation that we have out there, things that we just release about the gubernator. And that's on the blog, mailgun.com/blog.


Jonathan Torres: Yeah, definitely. Check it out.


Eric Trinidad: We also just put out some information about email, warm up plans. So check that out as well if you're interested. And also let us know if there's a subject or something that you'd like for us to talk about or to hear up in the upcoming season when we return. Probably in the next few weeks or I think a couple of months, maybe, maybe sooner, just depending on how much we get out of our other projects. You know, we'll be returning. And, you know, we'd like to hear y'alls feedback. But until then, Jonathan, appreciate your time.


Jonathan Torres: Yes, sir.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, hopefully we'll talk again soon. Thanks y'all.

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