Stop Yelling My Name

I’m on a lot of email lists. A lot. I go through every month or so and unsubscribe from as many as I can, but they proliferate. Some of them are sales emails that come from e-commerce sites I may have visited (or may not… really, some of the email I get is weirdly off-target in these days of targeted communications software). Others come from my preferred candidates–okay, fine, I probably want to hear from them. But the lists that come from organizations supporting policies shared by my preferred candidates? Not so much. And the tenor of the subject lines and preview copy? Shrill, shrill, apocalyptically shrill. I hate it.

I particularly loathe those emails that use my name. It’s like the sales calls I sometimes get at work where every single sentence includes my name: someone must have done a study that says that using the mark’s name is more effective. “Madeleine, thank you so much for taking my call. I work for X, and I’m calling today, Madeleine, to tell you about how to improve your Y using our system. Madeleine, we can improve…”


But the political ones are worse, because they use all the uglier tactics of clickbait:

“What’s that? Madeleine SUPPORTS Donald Trump Eating Babies?”

I don’t support anyone eating babies, or Donald Trump doing much of anything other than going back to his NYC penthouse until he can be fitted for a prison jumpsuit. The people who craft these emails are relying on me to click through and defend my honor by taking a two-question “poll” and then validating my honor by sending money.

I guess it works with some people, because I get a lot of them. And after the first one or two, I deleted them with extreme prejudice. But it gets wearing after a while. If these emails came from the opposition, I’d suspect that was the point: wear people out to the point where they just stop caring and stop supporting anyone. But these are emails coming from organizations that want my support, want my engagement, want my money (maybe the money more than the first two, but let’s just assume, for the moment, that they are made of truth). And they are shooting themselves in the foot.

The subject lines of many political emails I get fall into one of three categories: 1) Outrage Porn (Eating Babies etc.); 2) We’re All Gonna Die (“Madeleine, I’m BEGGING you!”), and 3) and A Promise of Schadenfreude (“McConnell’s WORST NIGHTMARE…”). I don’t open them.

I am, among other things, the person who manages my company’s email program. For our industry an “open rate” of 22% is good. One website cites a figure on average open rate across 28 industries of 32%. So I have to figure that somewhere, policy wonks are crafting these emails to achieve an open rate of 30-35%.

Tired of emails that shout your name, prey on your worst fears, or tempt you to dance on the graves of your enemies? Don’t open.


About Madeleine E. Robins

Madeleine Robins is the author of The Stone War, Point of Honour, Petty Treason, and The Sleeping Partner (the third Sarah Tolerance mystery, available from Plus One Press). Her Regency romances, Althea, My Dear Jenny, The Heiress Companion, Lady John, and The Spanish Marriage are now available from Book View Café. Sold for Endless Rue , an historical novel set in medieval Italy, was published in May 2013 by Forge Books


Stop Yelling My Name — 3 Comments

  1. The amount to which I agree with this cannot be measured.

    I note that of late, through some weird algorithm in someone’s program, I am getting right wing screeds as well. However, they all go to spam. I see them, because I have to check spam from time to time to see if a real message has slipped through, but since they’re already labeled spam and I don’t even want to touch them by opening them, there is nothing to do to express my loathing.

  2. One trick I hate is when the subject line says something like, “re: This Tuesday.” They’re trying to make it look like I started an email conversation with them, and they’re responding. They must figure I’ll see the “re:” and open the email. After all, I initiated the contact, right?

  3. oh dear god yeah to all of that. I tend to avoid those emails too. Every now and then I might actually go and do one of their “polls” but less and lses often because they are so clearly rigged with questions you are supposed to answer only one (the RIGHT) way and zero nuance or room for any. and then they’re usually follwed by “are you willing to do everything in your power to…[do/support whatever they’re pushing}, with only one boc to tick – a resounging “YES!” immediately followed by “yes i’ll give THIS amount of money… or THAT amount… oh I’ll just GIVE MORE…”

    I get a feeling that any response which doesn’t come accompanied by those $$$ doesn’t even get read. So I stopped bothering, really.

    Also, I DID donate to a cause once or twice and then they know they have a live one and if you donated $2 you get emails saying “Thank you for your donation – it was gratefully received – can you donate $20 now?”

    I hate politics.