How You Can Save Your Inbox From Subscription Spam (and What It Means to Email Marketers)

Is your inbox flooded with unwanted subscription emails every day? Here's a handy tool to manage the mess and regain control.

Jun 28, 2014 at 10:00AM

Most of us view email as a necessary evil. You certainly need it to keep up with work, and there always seems to be those few holdouts in every family who refuse to join Facebook like the rest of the world. But it's so inconvenient in this era of instant communication, where nearly everyone you know in your personal and professional life is on social media or instant messagers.

And then, of course, there's the spam.

At least two-thirds of the average person's inbox is stuffed with spam. While most modern email clients have strong built-in protections to filter out the junk promising "ch34p \/1aGr4!!" or claiming to have discovered $19 million in some dead Nigerian prince's account, you cause plenty of problems for yourself whenever you give your email address out to any of the millions of websites we might potentially come across in our daily surfing.

You can't do much about the first problem beyond clicking report spam and hoping your email provider catches on. However, there's at least one brilliant new tool that can help you manage the hundreds of irritating or unwanted subscription emails -- provided you've got one (or more) of the roughly 1.5 billion Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Apple, or AOL webmail accounts currently active around the world.

It's as easy as going to Unroll.Me, a free Web service that promises to finally give you control over all those emails you've signed up for over the years.

Source: Unroll.Me.

The process is simple and fairly straightforward -- simply click your way over to their site (this link opens Unroll.Me in a new window) and sign in to your webmail client of choice. Once you're in, you can manage every single email subscription you've picked up. You can unsubscribe with a click, and as an added feature, Unroll.Me also gives you the option to "rollup" your remaining subscriptions into one daily digest email. Instead of sifting through dozens of emails that might be important, you can skim a single email once a day.

This is great for the average email user, but probably not so much for most businesses, which have long sought to build huge lists of email subscribers to grow sales and maintain interest in their products and services. Unroll.Me knows just which businesses are most- and least-wanted in everyone's inbox, too, and it's put together the "Unroll.Me Awards" to put them on notice.

The emails nobody wants
Unroll.Me found that 15 particular subscriptions had at least 40% of all Unroll.Me users opting out of them. Two of them -- Runner's World and -- are aimed at fitness enthusiasts, and two -- Angie's List and -- aim to help users find qualified experts for various services. The rest are all sent by e-commerce sites. The four least-wanted email subscriptions are all unsubscribed from by at least 45% of Unroll.Me's users:

Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) -- 45% unsubscribe rate
Everyone loves travel deals, but few people seem to want them from Expedia, which was the only travel-booking site to land on Unroll.Me's most-hated list. Widespread lack of interest in Expedia's offerings could certainly explain why the company has trailed far behind competitor Priceline in both revenue and earnings-per-share growth since the recession ended. Expedia's EPS has risen 13% over the past five years, trailing the 68% rise in its revenue. Priceline's progress dwarfs these figures -- the home of The Negotiator has grown its revenue threefold and its EPS nearly fourfold since the end of 2009.

TicketWeb -- 47.5% unsubscribe rate
People don't seem to care too much for TicketWeb's emails, which may have something to do with its focus on independent venues and musicians. The music industry has become incredibly stratified in recent years, with top acts drawing the lion's share of interest and spending -- the top 10 highest-grossing concert tours in North America last year accounted for 15% of all concert ticket sales tracked by Pollstar, and the top 100 highest-grossing tours took in more than half of all North American concert revenue. That would certainly put the squeeze on TicketWeb, since most people who buy tickets to see a lesser-known band probably aren't that interested in being told about 10 other indie acts they've never heard of every day.


Don't let these emails wilt in your inbox.
Source: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay. 

Pro Flowers (45.1% unsubscribe rate) and 1-800-Flowers (NASDAQ:FLWS) (52.5% unsubscribe rate)
Let's face it: Most people simply don't buy flowers all that often. You might send your mom a bouquet in May, and men may pick up a few roses to commemorate their wedding anniversaries, but beyond these special occasions there simply aren't many days when anyone actually wants to have flowers delivered. Reminding subscribers daily that there are fresh-cut daffodils in stock seems to do more harm than good for these two delivery services.

Everyone's favorite emails
There are a few commonalities among Unroll.Me's most popular rollups. People certainly enjoy getting deep discounts, since all four major deal sites (Google Offers, (NASDAQ:AMZN) Local Deals, Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN), and LivingSocial) are added to the daily digest by at least 30% of those Unroll.Me users who have those subscriptions. The "learn to code" movement is also popular, as 40.5% of all rollups include emails sent from online coding-education platform Codeacademy.

However, you might be surprised to learn that the most popular rolled-up subscription doesn't offer deep discounts or career-enriching educational tools. More than 61% of Unroll.Me users with a subscription to Hulu emails look forward to hearing more about their favorite TV shows on a regular basis. That trounces all other rollups by at least 15%, as the second most-popular subscription (AmazonLocal) is only rolled up by 46% of its subscribers.

Businesses that want to keep people engaged with their emails should take two clear lessons from these statistics. If you can't be entertaining, and you can't offer awesome deals people can't find anywhere else, you'd better not bother your subscribers all the time -- especially if you're only offering something they might want once a year.

Leaked: This coming consumer device can change everything
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Alex Planes holds no financial position in any company mentioned here. Add him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter, @TMFBiggles  for more insight into markets, history, and technology.

The Motley Fool recommends, Apple, Facebook, Google (A and C shares), Priceline Group, and Yahoo! and owns shares of, Apple, Facebook, Google (A and C shares), Microsoft, Priceline Group, and Yahoo! Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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