Call it overly optimistic. Call it child-like faith in the goodness of humanity. The truth is, I still believe in opt-in email -- and I think we all should.
Why bother posting about this now, when we all know it's a best practice? Well, recently, I visited the sites of several well-respected publishers. I'm still not signed up for all the newsletters I ought to be reading (as if I'll have time to read them once I've subscribed - hah!) so I went to these publishers-who-shall-not-be-named to opt-in for their widely read publications.
I hit their sites, ticked off the little box for the publication for which I'd been searching, entered my email address....and there it was.
Below the subscriber agreement, in tiny letters, a little box. An OPT-OUT box for additional newsletters and "partner communications."
My shock was visible. When did this become acceptable? Who said, particularly in the days of CAN-SPAM and inboxes crammed beyond capacity, that opt-out was okay?
Do these publishers realize that by changing the rules of best practices they're potentially harming all enewsletter publishers? No one reads those little boxes too carefully. (One publisher was tricky enough to use the old "I do not wish to receive..." so you actually have to tick the box to opt out! Sneaky.) This practice is nothing more than permission spamming, and it blocks the way for legitimate opt-ins to enter awaiting inboxes.
Really, it just stinks.
I can only assume that these publications run on an ad revenue model and need to pump up their numbers to keep their prices up. But let's face it: opt-out can only lead to high unsubscribes and ultimately hard bounces.
So...two words to the wise. The first to publishers: Use opt-in. It's respectful, it's kind and it's better for the industry in general. Your readers will love you for it and be more likely to trust your future communications - and they'll be less likely to unsubscribe.
Second to sponsors: Make sure you're sponsoring an opt-in only publication. Not only will you be supporting the good guys, you'll be sending your message to people who may actually be interested, not annoyed.