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Trapped in a Vicious Email Cycle

Trapped in a Vicious Email Cycle


As an internet marketer, I understand the power of email blasts with offers and news. Yet, as a consumer, I find little value in the daily blasts – and even less when I can’t seem to escape the email cycle via unsubscribing! In fact, I start to get down right angry – just like any consumer would.

Over a year ago, I made the mistake of ordering from Pei-Wei online. Food was great  – but being blasted by emails for the next 365 days was not the fortune cookie I wanted. At first, I simply deleted the emails like most folks. Then I unsubscribed. Then I unsubscribed again. And again. And again. And again. (this goes on for 6-8 months). Then I spam blocked their emails, only to get annoyed later when checking my spam folder – so I tried unsubscribing again. And again.

Finally, I took to Google to figure out what was going on. The folks at Nudge seem to have come across the same problem with Pei-Wei. Pei-Wei’s email opt-out architecture is a bit of smoke and mirrors.

You see – when you click the unsubscribe link, they then ask you to “uncheck” the box to unsubscribe. This is actually a pretty standard (though frustrating process) – but the issue with Pei-Wei’s is the fact that even if you don’t uncheck the box, you still get a thank you for unsubscribing.

Pei-Wei Unsubcribe - Step 1

Pei Wei Unsubscribe Confirmation

In fact, the confirmation page says “You’ve unsubscribed {EMAIL} with success.” Liars! It’s taken me over a year to get away from Pei-Wei emails – during which time, they were probably counting my email opens as successes. I just wish that we marketers could also track frustration rates alongside open and response rates.

Lesson: Make it easy for users to unsubscribe from your email blasts – and make sure you’ve tested all scenarios in the architecture. Otherwise, it will frustrate the heck out of your customers – so much so that they will take their cravings for Kung Pao Chicken elsewhere.



Nick Lindauer
Nick is the vice president, client services and operations at Forthea. He’s been working in internet marketing since 2002, when – ironically – he answered an ad in the newspaper. When he’s not at work, he’s off spending time with his family, working on his house, building furniture, cooking on his two Big Green Eggs & brewing hot sauce.


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