Purging My Way to Freedom From Email Clutter

After the last, big, “mega-product launch,” and a barrage of me-too marketing emails from the usual suspects, I’ve decided enough is enough. And it’s about time.

I’ve done something I should have done a long time ago.

And I feel liberated.

I recommend you do the same.

That is, I unsubscribed from 90% of the newsletters I was receiving. I deleted fearlessly. Unsubscribed relentlessly. Purged ruthlessly. Without blinking or looking back.

If you think it’s not a lot, let me give you a backstory. When I was the editor of The Internet Marketing Chronicles newsletter over a decade ago (which has since been acquired by the late Corey Rudl), I subscribed to a lot of email newsletters.

Yes, lots. Like over-a-thousand lots.

I’m a speed-reader, so getting that many emails was never a big challenge. And before you conclude I was an email junkie, let me give you a few reasons in my defense.

For one, I wanted to be up on things. I wanted to stay abreast of new changes, new marketing strategies, new software tools, and so on. (I still do.)

Second, it gave me a lot of fodder while writing editorials for the then popular newsletter. I’m proud to have been instrumental in helping them grow their list from 45,000 to 160,000 subscribers, and remember that 160,000 back in ’98 was quite a feat!

And third, these emails served me well as they were also used for research purposes. As an up-and-coming copywriter writing a lot for the Internet marketing crowd at the time, I wanted to see what others were saying, promoting, doing, emailing, and writing.

But this weekend, after last week’s ubiquitous mega-launch promotional emails started cluttering up my inbox, it became the proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back.

It all started when, during the past weekend, I happened to do some spring cleaning around the house. I cleaned out the garage, went through my closet, and dumped a lot of things I no longer wear, need, or use. (Salvation Army, here I come!) 😉

Once I was done, however, and being in the purging mood, I decided to keep purging. So I started doing the same with my email, let alone my business and my mind.

I’ve purged my inbox and unsubscribed from hundreds of email lists.

Not 10 or 20, but hundreds!

Some had single lists. But others had quite a bit more. Most marketers have on average three or more autoresponders — especially if I was listed as an affiliate. In fact, with one marketer I was subscribed to 22 lists! I mean, twenty-bloody-two!

So I had to check, check, check… scroll down… and click “unsubscribe.” Then I’d rinse and repeat. Over and over again. For close to three hours.

Feeling liberated is an understatement.

Normally, I get about 1,000 emails a day (i.e., personal emails or newsletters, as we do have staff and multiple helpdesks to handle all of our business and support emails).

This morning, I woke up to nine. Yup, just nine emails.

Granted, it’s a holiday weekend, so I might see 15-25 tomorrow. Perhaps a bit more. But it’s a far cry from the traditional 200-500 I get first thing in the morning.

(Now, I’m anxious to see who really removed me, and if I was successful. It’s going to be interesting to see who keeps emailing me or who has ignored my unsubscribe request.)

By the way, I did this using my mobile phone, since my wife and I pledged to stay away from our computers during weekends. We both take weekends off, and our productivity has increased tenfold, if not more, because of it. (This purge will boost it more, I’m sure.)

I highly recommend you do the same. Taking weekends off, or at least one day, will be one of the best productivity boosters you will give yourself and your business.

Nevertheless, a major reason for the purge was the continuously decreasing quality in information, and the disproportionate increase in promotional or cloned messages.

When I first subscribed to many of these email lists, a good bunch of them were original, inspiring, newsworthy, and offered some great advice. And yes, many of them promoted — and some were for really cool products, which I no doubt bought.

(And boy, did I buy quite a bunch of them, too!)

Lately, however, too many emails contain the same, regurgitated platitudes.

Most are pushing the same mega-launch, or some less-than-original product that’s been recycled over 20 times, without being adequately compensated with emails containing information, education, or unique content. Even if it’s just news or commentary!

Now, you might say it’s because of blogging. But keep in mind, many email lists, which used to be consistently content-rich, have switched gears over time to become more blatantly promotional — particularly with the latest, flavor-of-the-week mega-launch.

The scales have tipped quite dramatically in the last decade.

I’m a diehard capitalist, and I do believe in promoting to your lists. I always look out for some great offers I might be interested in. But I do so, provided there’s a good mix of content and promotions to balance things out.

Balance overall, not just per individual marketer.

I don’t mind if it’s 50-50. Even 60-40 or 70-30. If my inbox was filled with more promotions than content, that’s fine. The problem is, it’s now 95% promotions and 5% content.

It’s a barrage of pitch-pushing, me-too madness gone awry. Everybody seems to promote the latest and greatest tactic or system-gaming course…

… Like “How to Gain 26,754 Twitter Followers in Just 72 hours!” or, “How This Backdoor Google Strategy Cranked Up My Rankings Overnight And Pounded a Gazillion Dollars Into My Bank Account… Without Lifting a Finger!”

I mean, seriously? You’re shooting me, right? Ugh.

What ever happened to solid, fresh, helpful information?

Before you go thinking I’m only trying to get information for free, no, I’m not trying to get information for free. My wife and I have a quarter-of-a-million dollar budget each year, to update our knowledge, skills, and tools, from which we spend without batting an eye.

But I remember the days when an email newsletter was exactly that: a NEWS-letter. Content-rich, perhaps with classified ads inside, or with the occasional “solo email” thrown in from time to time. (Oh, those were the good ol’ days. Sigh.)

Instead, the Internet has become awash in useless, platitude-filled, pitch-infested, repetitive messages that never teach anything, let alone say anything new.

(If I get another “bad news” email, I’m going to vomit.)

The sad part is, there are quite a few marketers out there for whom I have a great deal of respect, and whom I’ve been following for a very long time. For many years, in fact. They’re the last people I’d expect to turn to such tactics.

But alas, I’m astounded when out of the blue I get the same, tired, rehashed copy or product pitch from them. It not only irritates me, it also deeply disappoints me. I often say to myself, nodding, “Oh no, [guru’s name], how could you?”

When I say there’s a gross lack of unique content online these days, I don’t mean to imply that information should always be brand-spanking new and totally original.

We always need basics. Fundamentals. Principles.

And we do need to revisit them from time to time.

(Right now, I think that need is more prevalent than ever.)

We need them for two reasons: one, many newbies are entering the Internet marketing space each and every day; and two, we need to stop working on just making money and start focusing on building businesses instead.

Tactics make money, but strategies build businesses. Money-making businesses. Businesses that create income and not just short-term cash infusions.

And all businesses will always rely on strong fundamentals and core marketing principles, even when you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t need them.

In fact, even though I think I’ve seen them all, I still love going back to the fundamentals and reading about marketing basics. Why? Because, while I’ve heard them before, they are taught differently, by a different person, with their own unique twist.

And I love learning how different people look at the same things I do.

Anyhow, I’ve decided to cut out the excess clutter. Just like some people are packrats and keep everything for fear of throwing something that they may one day need, nature abhors a vacuum, even when it comes to email.

You can’t have more good stuff come into your life when you’re filled to the rim with the not-so-good. Sure, I might miss out on something worthwhile by removing myself from so many lists. But I value my freedom, and my sanity, more.

I know that liberating and reclaiming my inbox will eventually open it up to more productive, fresh, helpful, positive, and dare I say it, original information.

Mind you, it’s not a complete purge. There are still a few I will stay subscribed to. I doubt they will ever lower their standards — although I’ve been surprised in the past. But based on prior experience, I think they’re pretty safe.

One of them is certainly Paul Myers’ TalkBiz News. I love Paul’s stuff. I’ve been subscribed to Paul’s email newsletter for over a decade now, and it still delivers highly useful content, with the occasional incisive commentary and kick in the pants.

(You couldn’t pry me away with a 10-foot crowbar from Paul’s newsletter. It’s that good.)

Bottom line, it’s all about freedom. Isn’t it?

Freedom from clutter. Freedom from bull. Freedom from — to borrow a title from a famous science-fiction movie — the attack of the clones.

I’d like to finish with a quote I found on Twitter. It’s by Egbert Sukop, author of “How to Better Hate Your Job.” And it pretty much sums it all up. It goes like this…

“The dividing line between rich and poor: for the ‘poor,’ freedom depends on money. For the ‘rich,’ money depends on freedom.”

About The Author

Avatar of Michel Fortin
Michel Fortin is a certified SEO consultant, content strategist, and marketing advisor helping plastic surgeons, cosmetic surgeons, and medical aesthetic clinics attract more patients. Since 1991, he helps cosmetic and aesthetic professionals increase their visibility and grow their practices. He is the author of the More Traffic Memo™ SEO email newsletter.

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