Please Unsubscribe - A Social Experiment

Yesterday I sent an email that made a lot of people smile and a couple people scratch their heads and ask "WTF?" The subject line was "Your Chance To Unsubscribe From Andy Ellwood" and the opening paragraph read like this:  

This is your chance. I promise I won’t be offended.

Please unsubscribe from this email list I am using to send this email if any of the following apply to you:
1) You have no idea who Andy Ellwood is.
2) You know who Andy Ellwood is and you dislike him.
3) You aren’t interested in keeping in touch with Andy Ellwood or seeing infrequent, but hopefully entertaining, updates.

No judgement: unsubscribe from this list

I (probably) won’t even look to see who unsubscribed.

The goal of this email was two fold: first, I wanted to clean up my email mailing list as I knew that there were some old addresses that were no longer relevant and second, I wanted to give people a chance to defend the most sacred space in our digital lives: the inbox. 

Screenshot from a friend, laughing at the subject line.

Screenshot from a friend, laughing at the subject line.

I am going to be sharing some updates on life, work, and some job opportunities that are currently in my network and I wanted to make sure that anyone who gets the actual update email later this month wants to see it and wants to see it coming from me. 

Wel, now, 24 hours after hitting send on the email, here are some fun stats that I am happy to share and would love any feedback you have on how they compare to what your expectations would be for something humorous like this.

  • 6,029 Emails Sent
  • 34.9% Open Rate
  • 285 People Unsubscribed (of which 11 were me removing my own alias emails addresses)
  • 7 Abuse Reports Filed with MailChimp (who does that?)
  • 108 personal emails from recipients of the email blast sending me an encouraging note saying they can't wait for the actual update email.

Here are some of my favorites:

Also, just before sending out this mass email that only included a link to my Twitter profile in it, I tweeted the following:

When people clicked through to the link to my Twitter profile, they were hopefully reassured that I wasn't a malicious spam marketer and was having fun with my network. I also gained 20+ followers as a result.

All in all, I am going to declare this experiment an early success and pull out a couple of take ways:

  1. People know that mass email lists aren't personal but they don't hate the idea of keeping tabs on their friends, especially if there is something more in the email than just "LOOK AT ME!" and the might be something of value for them as well.
  2. If you can make something as mundane as cleaning up your email list moderately entertaining, you are more likely to be forgiven. 
  3. Some people dislike being told what to do so much (unsubscribe please) that they did their best to subscribe a second time. 

If you'd like to receive the email update from me in a couple weeks, please feel free to subscribe to my email list below and be on the look out for more fun soon!