John Lewis And The Truth About Unsubscribes
A few days ago I unsubscribed from a John Lewis email marketing list and immediately received the following email message (see screenshot below).
The wording of this message caught my attention right away. Why? Because the message content is not only misleading, but borders on a blatant lie! And as someone who designs, builds and manages autoresponders and email campaigns for clients, I’ll explain exactly why.
Prior to unsubscribing, my email address sat in a mailing list operated by John Lewis for marketing purposes. When I clicked the unsubscribe link in one of John Lewis’ emails, and subsequently confirmed the email address to be removed, the autoresponder managing the list should have deleted my email immediately.
Remember (and I’m sure that most people are aware of this), there is no human action required here. There is no data processor tapping keys in front of a screen, manually adding or deleting your details. Everything is managed by an autoresponder, which automatically and instantly process the data.
So why would it take up to 28 days to ‘process and update your details’? The simple answer is, it doesn’t!
John Lewis don’t want to give up subscribers easily, because subscribers mean potential sales, as well as increased brand awareness. So my assumption is that John Lewis’ autoresponder is configured to do the following.
When you click an unsubscribe link, instead of your email address being deleted, it is either segmented within the list or, more likely, moved to a different list. This list (let’s assume it’s named something like ‘Unsubscribed’) is set to hold your email for 28 days, after which it is finally auto-deleted. This ‘Unsubscribed’ list has a pre-written email campaign attached to it, the purpose of which is to deliver a series of messages over the 28 day period, reminding you just how much John Lewis has to offer and advising you that you can re-activate your subscription at any time by clicking one of the highlighted links.
Clicking on a ‘re-activate’ link will, of course, automatically move your email address back to the original list, following which, you will once again continue to receive the retailer’s standard marketing messages until you eventually die (and probably for some time after).
Is this kind of practice in breach of the new GDPR? You’d need to ask someone with more legal knowledge than me. But I can tell you that this practice is frequently adopted by businesses who like to ‘stretch’ the consent rules a little in an effort to retain your details and your attention.
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Dedicated to your success,
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