My Inbox is Mine – Not Yours

I could have called this article, “Sure, Feel Free to Deluge My Inbox With Thousands of ‘Opt-In’ Emails.”

Or, “So You Think I Gave You Permission to Send Me THIS?”

Or, “I Don’t Dump Stuff All Over Your Web Site, So How About You Give Me a Break and Stop Dumping Dozens of HTML Emails in My Inbox?”

You get my drift.

Spam aside, it’s getting harder and harder for folks to wade through their inboxes and find some nugget of value in the stuff to which they’ve actually subscribed.

Before the year is out, “permission” could become a dirty word.

I’m rambling a bit.

But here’s the thing. Hundreds of dot-com companies are jumping on the “permission” and “opt-in” bandwagon.

Whether it’s great sites like,,, or one of dozens of others, these companies are building their lists like crazy – and helping e-tailers to build their lists, too. Not to mention all the e-commerce sites that are building their lists directly.

And it’s all good stuff.

Trouble is, as someone just surfing along, I might think, “Sure, no harm in signing up to hear more about vacations in Turkey.”

But little do I know that I’ve just signed up to hear about just about every vacation opportunity known to man, woman or child.

What’s the harm in that?

Not a lot, on day one.

But let’s say I make the same casual choice to hear more from an online wine store, book store, clothing store, and used car site.

I’m getting a lot of email.

Now let’s say I actually buy some stuff from some of these sites.

I’ll then be showered with a storm of Customer Relationship Management emails trying to retain me, up-sell me, cross-sell me and promote to me.

A bad thing? No.

But my inbox is getting full. And I’ve got more “relationships” than I can handle.

To put this point in perspective, think about the “relationships” you have with bricks-and-mortar retailers in your local area. How many stores do you do business with or hear from on a regular basis? And if you do hear from them, how often?

Let’s say you do most of your shopping from six different stores.

Let’s say you get mailings or flyers from three of them.

That’s manageable.

But online it’s different.

Thousands of dot-com stores are just a click away.

Over the course of a few months, I might establish an “opt-in” connection with a dozen different sites.

After all, it’s tempting. All those great offers, reminder services, wish-list services. Sure, count me in.

But after a few months it becomes bad for me, the customer, because I’m becoming overwhelmed by the volume of inbound emails.

I just can’t sustain this number of “relationships” with commercial entities.

And as soon as I start to feel overwhelmed, your opt-in emails cease to have my permission.

Because I don’t like them any more.

After all, there really does have to be a limit to the number of emails I want to find in my inbox each day.

And it is MY inbox. And I know that I asked you to send me stuff. And I know that you have an unsubscribe page somewhere.

But I’ve had enough. Maybe I’ll just set my filters to dump all your stuff. Maybe I’ll just delete a ton of stuff as soon as I log on.

Regardless of how many “relationships” I’ve opted into…

In my heart I’ve opted out. In bulk.

And you’ve lost me.

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