30 Days of Email Domination: Unsubscriptions Eternal

By Sol in Blog

The big win today is that main message processing (inbox + bulk) took only 04:28. Under 5 minutes! Processing these messages went really smoothly today. The main thing I need to watch out for now is my automatic filters that label messages as “To Read”, as some of these messages (e.g. notifications, etc.) don’t really need to be read, but rather attended to. As a result, I’ve split these messages off with a new filter today that labels them with “Action”, so that I can quickly review them to see if any require action on my part. Many of these messages are also forwarded to my priority account (so I know when someone leaves a comment on my site, for example) so I can usually just archive them all.

Less Bulky

There are even fewer bulk messages this week and I feel that single-digit numbers of bulk messages is within reach. Once I reach that point, will I shoot for zero bulk messages or simply delete the ones I receive? Unsubscribing from mailing lists is a slow process, second only to creating message filters, so wouldn’t it just be faster to delete them and be done with it? If I did though, I would feel like I was giving the remaining senders preferential treatment by allowing them to send me emails that I don’t want or need when I brutally unsubscribed from everyone else. Why should the last 10 senders be allowed to live?

The flip side of course is that if I shoot for zero bulk emails, I will likely always be unsubscribing from something. Though I’m now more selective, I do still provide my email address to the odd website, so a few bulk messages is to be expected.

At single-digit levels though, I’m not too worried about it (at least that what I tell myself) and I’ll deal with that when the time comes. The first step is to reach single-digits.

Unsubscribe (Again)

Though most of the bulk messages were sent off for management (i.e. unsubscription), total message processing (inbox, bulk, and management) took just over 15 minutes today. Now that I’m actively focusing on decreasing the number of bulk messages I receive, I’m okay with a bit of extra message processing time even if it keeps me above the golden 10 minute mark.

Honestly though, unsubscribing from mailing lists is an exercise in extreme tedium. Every single message needs to be opened and unsubscribed to individually. Mailing list services such as MailChimp and Campaign Monitor do a good job putting end-users in front of their customers (e.g. the businesses sending marketing emails) by making it fairly easy to unsubscribe from a mailing list, usually in a single click. Now I think they should take the next step and allow end-users to see ALL mailing lists they are subscribed to and unsubscribe from multiple lists at once.

This is definitely possible, and I can see this happening especially if end-users demand it. However, I just remembered that I generally use a different email address for each mailing list that I subscribe to (so that I can easily create a filter if a sender goes rogue and spams me), so such a setup wouldn’t really benefit me.

MailChimp and Campaign Monitor: Do it anyway!

Gmail has a way to automatically unsubscribe from mailing lists without having to find the link in the email. Unfortunately, you still need to attend to each message individually. If Gmail would allow this functionality when multiple messages are selected, it would be awesome.

Gmail: Make it so.

The worst offenders though are the senders that have no unsubscription links in their email. Instead, they kindly request that you send them and email, usually with “Unsubscribe” in the subject line. You can’t get much less user-friendly than this. Usually, I just add these senders to my “black hole” filter instead so that their messages are sent straight to the trash. This is also a fairly manual process, but I’ll take it over taking the time to compose an email to a sender that makes it as difficult as possible to unsubscribe from.

Naughty Senders: Go away.

Today’s Stats

  • Checked email: 1 time
  • Time: 10:12
  • Total messages: 86
    • Inbox: 18
    • Bulk: 25
    • Important: 0
  • Management: 23
    • Incorrect Smart Label: 3
    • Unsubscribe: 19
    • Update filtering: 1
    • Spam: 0
  • Time per Message
    • Inbox: 01:30 (12 messages/minute)
    • Bulk: 02:58 (8.4 messages/minute)
    • Management (filters, etc.): 11:44
    • Total: 16:12
    • Average: 5.3 messages/minute