This weekend, I received an e-mail from someone who had signed up for a free trial of my Tasks software. This person’s e-mail said:
Stop spamming me!
I asked for some clarification, but did not receive it (though I did receive another request to “stop spamming me”).
Now I certainly don’t like SPAM, and it isn’t something I feel I engage in. In fact, in the 2+ years I’ve been offering a free trial for Tasks Pro™ and Tasks, I can only think of maybe one or two other times when I’ve been accused of spamming someone.
However, as rare as it’s been, I learned in my journalism classes that you should treat all feedback that you receive as representative of a larger group with similar feelings that hasn’t taken the time to get in touch about it1.
I certainly don’t want to be labelled as a spammer (a 21st century leper), so I’m doing two things:
- Making it clear on the trial sign-up page exactly how many e-mails someone can expect to receive.2
- Asking for feedback here.
When someone signs up for a free trial, they can expect to receive the following e-mails about their trial account:
- An e-mail with the login information for their trial.
- An e-mail letting them know their trial has expired, with a thank you and links to additional information.
And the following e-mails as features of their trial:
- (Tasks Pro™ and Tasks) A “daily e-mail reminder” of their upcoming tasks which can be turned off by un-checking a box in their preferences. On the bottom of each of these e-mails are instructions to stop receiving them.
- (Tasks Pro™ only) E-mail notifications when tasks are assigned and completed by other users. On the bottom of each of these e-mails are instructions to stop receiving them.
Are any of these approaching the “spam” threshold? I don’t think so, but if I’m wrong about this I want to know so that I can start doing things differently.
- Every letter to the editor was considered representative of the opinions of 5000 people (adjusted for circulation #s), or something along those lines. [back]
- I added the following:
You will receive an e-mail with the login information for your free trial. During the trial, you can choose to receive daily e-mail reminders (this can be turned off at any time). You will also receive an e-mail notifying you when your trial has expired. Your e-mail address will not be added to any mailing lists and these will be the only e-mails you receive from the free trial.
Well, I guess the daily reminder is not really necessary and could be really annoying. That you can disable it makes it not less annoying 😉
If you think you need to remind your potential customers about the demo expire make it obvious somewehre in the application interface (like a big red “only 3 days left” in a corner. If you really like to send an intermediate reminder before the final “demo expired” mail send a single one about 5 to 3 days before the expiry date.
When I had the daily reminders off by default, I got e-mails from about 1/3 of the trial users asking how to turn them on (2-3 e-mails per day). Since I’ve turned them on by default, I’ve gotten ~5 complaints over the last year and a half. That tells me that having them on by default (remember, they include instructions on how to turn them off) is the right choice.
Just in case it wasn’t clear, the daily e-mail reminders are lists of their upcoming tasks – data that they have entered.
I don’t send any reminders that the demo is about to expire, I only send a single e-mail thanking them for taking the trial and giving them information about what to do next should they have additional questions or wish to purchase.
Ah okay. I didn’t get that – well that is a completely different thing. I would consider this a feature, not spam at all.
I don’t consider that spam either, but having been in a position of sending out mail “automatically” have also encountered people who will always call things spam. (I had a site where they had to actually check the box to enable things being sent to them, and still got “stop spamming me!” a couple of times.)
My solution? Explain why they might be getting mail from you (because they _or someone else_ asked for it…), and offer to permanently prevent their email from being used by your system again. (How doable this part is depends on how your system is setup. In my case you had to have an email to sign up, so I just added a check that said something like “if email is in never_use, deny.” Then also reference never_use during any mail outs and what not.)
Your lists of emails appears quite reasonable for a demo of your services.
Explaining what emails will be sent will be helpful for other users, but I doubt it would have prevented your current “stop spamming request.” Given enough time someone will find it easier to respond to an email instead of reading it.
If that’s all you e-mailed him, that’s not even close to spam. Quite frankly, you could do a lot more before I’d consider it spam. I get a lot of crap in my inbox at work that I’m not interested in thanks to the amount of software and services I try out. I wouldn’t consider any of it spam unless I tried to stop it and they refused to comply.
As a matter of fact, if he e-mails you again I would ask him to please take you off of his list and stop spamming you!
Hi all. I’ve been seeing various “STOP SPAMMING ME” messages posted on blogs and message boards, and I’m starting to see a pattern. I think that many of them are themselves a form of spam intended to entice admins and blog users to click through or send email back to the sender (for email address farming). It’s a marketing tool. I see this is an old post, but maybe somebody will notice my comment. Glad to contribute (even though I’m way late).