Consumers continue to grapple with what to do about spam e-mail.

Over the past decade or so, consumers have been faced with basically two options regarding unwanted e-mail that comes into their often-groaning inboxes. And neither one seems particularly effective.

One option is to unsubscribe to unwanted e-mails. But many experts caution against doing this, claiming that it risks getting even more spam e-mail instead of stopping the delivery of unwanted mail.  Or it could be even worse, in that clicking on the unsubscribe box might risk something even more nefarious happening on their computer.

On the other hand, ignoring junk e-mail or sending it to the spam folder doesn’t seem to be a very effective response, either. Both Google and Microsoft are famously ineffective in determining which e-mails actually constitute “spam.”  It isn’t uncommon that e-mail replies to the personal who originated the discussion get sent to the spam folder.

How can that be? Google and Microsoft might not even know the answer (and even if they did, they’re not saying a whole lot about how those determinations are made).

Even more irritating – at least for me personally – are finding that far too many e-mails from colleagues in my own company are being sent to spam – and the e-mails in question don’t even contain attachments.

How are consumers handling the crossed signals being telegraphed about how to handle spam e-mail? A recent survey conducted by digital marketing firm Adestra has found that nearly three-fourths of consumers are using the unsubscribe button – and that figure has increased from two-thirds of respondents in the 2016 survey.

What this result tells us is that the unsubscribe button may be working more times than not. If that means that the unwanted e-mails stop arriving, then that’s a small victory for the consumer.

[To access the a summary report of Adestra’s 2017 field research, click here.]

What’s been your personal experience with employing “ignore” versus “unsubscribe” strategies? Please share your thoughts with other readers.

One thought on “Consumers continue to grapple with what to do about spam e-mail.

  1. I fall squarely in the camp of ignoring spam emails, and not asking to unsubscribe. It’s one less pointless chore I have to do every day.

    I also don’t want to reward spanners with the benefit of feedback. In the jungle, any kind of feedback (such as “unsubscribe”) is better than no feedback at all. A host of outrageous rockstars (think: Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and even Madonna, when she was trying to get noticed) along with President Trump have learned this lesson well. They understand that, in the wild, it’s better to gain negative publicity free of charge than to go completely unnoticed.

    My company subscribes to the Microsoft Office 365 service for email. Office 365 has a feature called “Clutter” which sits in between my regular Inbox and the Junk Email (i.e. spam) folder. I’ve found this feature does a great job distinguishing between email I might possibly be interested in reading (“Clutter”) and email that is of no interest whatsoever, or might be dangerous to open (“Junk Email”). Also, it automatically disables all embedded links in messages it routes to the Junk Email folder.

    Once a week or so, I skim through my Clutter folder to find anything of interest. Many of the messages are announcements of Facebook or LinkedIn postings which I’m just too busy to open. Only rarely do I find messages that should have come to my Inbox instead, and when this happens I simply move them to my Inbox. The rest just sit there happily in Clutter until I archive my email once every year.

    Then, twice a month or so, I browse through my Junk Email folder. Nearly 100% of these messages are truly spam, and a fairly sizeable number of those are not-so-well-disguised phishing attempts (I am particularly bemused about the ones which warn me that my company’s Office 365 account is about to be deactivated unless I click the link). Almost without exception, I simply Select All and then perform a hard deletion of everything in my Junk Email folder.

    I am personally of the view that any enterprise which allocates marketing spend to unsolicited email campaigns (i.e. spamming) is throwing money down the toilet. The same goes for telemarketing.

    Indeed, marketing managers who encourage or condone such spending should get the sack.

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