Happy Festivus from the Rest of Us at Return Path

December 23rd marks the official unofficial day of the not so sacred holiday Festivus. Festivus is celebrated by a Festivus dinner, an unadorned Festivus aluminum pole in place of a decorate Christmas tree, and the traditional “Airing of Grievances.” Immediately after the Festivus dinner is served, each person takes a turn telling how others how they’ve been disappointed in the past year. I asked everyone at Return Path what they would tell Email during the Airing of Grievances at the Festivus dinner.

Remove Me Already

It seems a common disappointment with email this year (and likely many years prior) is the disappointment with the unsubscribe process. Let’s hope this doesn’t come up again next year. But as Dave suggests below, one can always use Unsubscriber.

Lori Vaughn, Email Geek, I hate when you unsubscribe and it doesn’t work.  Hello, 1995, fix your darn unsub process already.  Also, hate when you contact Customer Support and they don’t have the permission to unsubscribe you.  Empower all layers of customer support to help customers.

Tori Funkhouser, Writer, Knowledge Services, I hate when I click on unsubscribe in my iPhone and have to type in my email address. I don’t like typing from my phone!

Dave Wilby, Chief Data Officer, I hate it when I have to remember an email address and password in order to unsubscribe. (Yes, I do use Unsubscriber, thanks for asking)

Julia Petre, Account Manager – Signing in to unsubscribe!

Christine Borgia, Anti-Abuse Fanatic, I wish when I unsubscribed from emails, I stopped receiving them.

Jack Sinclair, CFO, I hate unsubscribe links that force you to either enter your email address again or uncheck a box to unsub. Just take me off!

Scot Berggren, Account Director – I hate it when you unsubscribe from an email program and the company sends you an email letting you know you’ve been unsubscribed. If I wanted to stop receiving your email, why do you feel the need to send me one more?


Another common theme in the Airing of Grievances was requiring too much information in the sales or checkout process. Brands should look at our own research showing successful ways to make it easier to get on and off email lists. While growing an email list can be challenging, heavy handed tactics can be avoided, and we have 50 ideas to grow your list in an ebook format.

Lori Vaughn, Email Geek, I hate when websites require an email address before access.  This creates a lot of BAD addresses on file.

Lauren Soares, Account Manager, I hate when a store asks for my email address at the register, and when I say “no thanks” they insist that I must give it to them in order to proceed.

I Am Serious … And Don’t Call Me Shirley!

Does personalization in emails work? While our own subject line personalization research suggests it’s losing its effectiveness in some cases, Julia Peavy found subject line personalization works for some industries. I decided to hit the streets and ask Dear FIRSTNAME LASTNAME to find out for sure.

George Bilbrey, Curmudgeon and President, I am disappointed by emails that are personalized with “Dear George Bilbrey.”  If I’m really “dear” to them they’ll know which is my given name and which is my family name.  It is, however, better when their personalization breaks and I’m greeted with “Dear {subscriber_name}”

Michelle Pelletier, VP, Knowledge Services, I hate email subject lines that are personalized. I usually assume it’s spam.

I’ll Give You Something to Complain About

Feedback loops (FBLs) are one of the oldest (thanks AOL!), tried and true ways to remove people from your email list that think your email is spam and complain about it by clicking the dreaded “this is spam” button. While things have improved considerably over the years, it appears we still have some work to do. If you’re still not signed up for FBLs, check out blog post “What is a Feedback Loop?” where all publicly available FBLs are listed.

Cherie Ansari, Professional Services Director – Why no official FBL, Gmail?

George Bilbrey, Curmudgeon and President, I’m disappointed when email marketing programs have complaint issues, but then refuse to sign up for feedback loops.

Can I Recall That Reply All?

Everyone loves a good, embarrassing accidental “reply all”, unless you’re the one that sent it. Not only can hitting the “reply all” result in a red face, but also in some cases, it causes a tsunami of emails clogging mail servers around the world. While not the end of the world, it could mean the end of a career if you’re not smart about recovering from the “reply all” syndrome. Maybe 2014 will see email clients start confirming if you really want to reply all before the email is sent.

Mike SullivanSales, Canada– People need to think long and hard before they hit “Reply All”

Jeremy Goldsmith, Head of Customer Experience, I hate it when people accidentally reply-all to a company-wide email from their phones.

I’ll save the rest of the grievances for another time, since we’re running late for the Feats of Strength. The good news is it won’t take a Festivus Miracle to right any of these wrongs – just some good old-fashioned email intelligence and common sense. What were your grievances against Email in 2013? Leave them in the comments below, because there’s nothing that disappoints me more than when you don’t air and share your grievances.

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