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Yes, Unsubscribing Works…Mostly.

Last month I shared the first part of the results of an experiment in unsubscribing. The question being – would a mass-unsubscribe campaign decrease the amount of spam I received? Or perhaps increase it? Or have no effect at all?

The risk of an unsubscribe is that you are alerting an email sender that their email reached you at a valid email address. Spammers and scammers can take this information and pass along your email to other lists (and may continue to send you spam anyway).

So I went a month where I unsubscribed from every spam that had an unsubscribe link (a large number, I found, did not allow me to unsubscribe or would require me to reply to their email to remove myself as opposed to providing an automated link).



Well, the bottom line is that unsubscribing did what it should – I received less spam over the next month. As you can see by the chart (and by comparing it to the previous month’s), not only did I receive less spam, but the spam I did get was the “less legitimate” type. The gap between the number of spam emails and the number that I could unsubscribe from is markedly larger. A much larger percentage of the undesired email I received was from true spammers – no method of unsubscribing.

To my surprise, one newsletter list that I would have assumed is quite reputable (from a name-brand investment broker) simply refused to truly remove my email address from their list. I kept using their unsubscribe link and receiving an “Unsubscribe Successful” message, but I continue to receive the email. I’m assuming this is a technical issue, rather than some sort of nefarious scheme to continue to send me investment news.

Despite that one setback, overall I’d say my unsubscribe adventure ended up to be quite successful. So go ahead and knock yourself out with the unsubscribes if you like, friends.* Hopefully you’ll have a similar result.

*Preferably not with our newsletter.

Kalvin Kingsley, KK BOLD Vice President of IT