So, I was at my mom’s the other day, and she was checking her email on her tablet. I watched her grimace at an email, and punch “spam” on the email. The email disappeared, and I glanced at her.
“Why’d you do that?”
“Well, I don’t want that email. I get one or two a day from them!”
I blinked at her. “So just unsubscribe.”
“I do. Every time! You watched me do it.”
I shook my head. (And probably had more wine.) “Mom, that’s not unsubscribing. That’s just marking it ‘spam.'”
“What’s the difference?”
Plenty, as it turns out. As I talked to her about it all, I realized there’s probably a lot of people out there who don’t know or understand the difference between sending an email to the Spam and Unsubscribing.
What is SPAM?
- SPAM is unsolicited emails. As in, you never asked to get that email from “Amazing Online Giveaways” but they just send you stuff. They usually are just an image, and no matter where you try to click on the message, it is a scam of some sort.
- SPAM usually is spelled wrong. Whether it’s in the sender’s address, or the actual email has poor grammar and spelling.
- Just today, I got an email from American Excpress, telling me my account was being suspended. Very official looking, and if I had an account with them, I might have been worried. At least until I noticed that first off, I don’t have an American Express Card. Second, it wasn’t spelled correctly. And lastly? The entire email was a picture, that I had to download. (That’s never a good sign)
- Sending an email to your SPAM folder sends a notice back to the sender’s system, saying “Hey, you weren’t supposed to send this to this person!” It can give the company bad marks in their online stuff, and make things harder for them. While SPAM ads don’t care about that, legitimate businesses do.
- The SPAM folder funnels them into a new place so you don’t see them in your email. You still get them, they’re just not front and center.
To Unsubscribe, though, is different.
Say you signed up for email alerts from that favorite store, and all of a sudden, you’re getting 3 emails a day from them. We all have that email. Mine always is Kohl’s. (And it might not be 3 day, but it’s a lot. And I’m a writer–so it’s called hyperbole. Exaggerations to make a point.)
But the difference between the 3 emails a day I get from Kohl’s and SPAM is that at the bottom of EVERY Kohl’s email is a button that says
At any time, I can click that, and I have to go to a screen that asks me if I’m sure I want to quit getting emails, or if I want to adjust the frequency of my emails. I say “Yes” or whatever, and boom, done.
No more emails from Kohls.
Any legitimate email subscription you have will have this option.
That’s the biggest difference between SPAM and regular sales emails — You can unsubscribe from legit emails. Spam doesn’t have that option.
Now, the question my mother had after this? Why should that matter to her? The Spam Folder makes it go away.
My reply? Why would you do that every time you get one — and get frustrated each time you still get them — when you can click the unsubscribe, and not get any more?
I could also explain the long story about how every time you report a legit email newsletter as spam, it makes small businesses, like my author business get a black mark, and eventually it hurts my business, rather than unsubscribing, and you can part friends, but it would be long and boring.
Long story short:
Spam: No Unsubscribe Option. Bad Spelling.
Not Spam: You can Unsubscribe.
And sign up for my newsletter to know when I release new books… (I had to, after all, you’re here…)