Marketing, Market Thyself

, , , , , | Working | June 8, 2017

(I work internal tech support. A user from our marketing department calls in to ask why his emails to an external recipient keep bouncing. I take a look at the bounce-back message, and it indicates that the sender’s address was blocked by the end user.)

Me: “This isn’t really an error message; our system sent the e-mail successfully. However, the end recipient chose to block it as spam, which is why you’re getting these bounce-backs.”

Marketing: “Can you unblock our email address?”

Me: “No, because the block is on their end. It’s not in our system so we have no control over it.”

Marketing: “Why would they flag my email as spam? It’s not spam. It’s a legitimate marketing email blast.”

Me: “Apparently it looked enough like spam that they didn’t want to receive it any more.”

Marketing: “How do I make my emails so that they don’t look like spam and people want to read them?”

Me: “You’re the marketing department. You tell me.”

1 Thumbs
  • Alan

    A family member who used to do mass mailings had the same response when his mailings were blocked. “This isn’t spam! People need to know what I’m telling them!” Having been the recipient of the mailings myself, I had a lot of sympathy for the blockers :-^.

  • Kevin Longino

    ” It’s a legitimate marketing email blast.”

    Or, as the rest of us call it, spam.

    • Raven Odette

      You beat me to it

      • nope

        Me, too. Great minds think alike?

    • Westrim

      A “legitimate marketing email blast” would have had explicit opt-in, so it’s not inherently spam unless their conduct makes it spam.

      • WonderRabbit

        A ‘legitimate marketing email’ maybe.
        Anyone who uses the term ’email blast’ is peddling their spiced ham into as many inboxes they can.

        • Westrim

          Email blast is a generic marketing term for any batch emailing, from weekly newsletters to blog posts to daily ‘deal’ ads. It’s not a great term, but it’s not remotely equivalent to spam.

          • Lord Circe

            Except it can be, especially on sites where the auto-filled checkbox that opts you into these mailing lists is small and somewhat hidden, and there is a tangled process to actually unsubscribe.

          • Also, I don’t know until I actually try to unsubscribe if they’re going to let me. Some spammers use the unsubscribe button as a way to know their emails are reaching an actual person, and step up the volume. I always just block them.

  • Carrie

    Good way to start is having easy unsubscribe options that work.

    All Estee Lauder emails now go to spam because I tried 3 times to unsub and it didn’t work.

    Likewise, I just marked emails from my alma mater to go to spam because there is no master remove feature- I’ve removed myself from four “categories” so far and still get emails. It’s infuriating.

    • Gmail is doing this automatically. Mass mailings go straight to spam and I have to fish out the legit ones. However, it’s very nice to have when frustrated by unresponsive unsubscribes.

      • Carrie

        They do and for the most part it’s the best spam filter I’ve seen on a free service. At least it’s to mark as Not Spam if needed.

  • Kerrie Mills

    Ahahaha good one. Seriously though, it probably wouldn’t have hurt to give him a few tips based on your expertise (albeit I wouldn’t blame you in the slightest if tip #1 had been “stop sending email blasts.”)

    • WonderRabbit

      Why do you think an IT person would have any tips that a marketing person wouldn’t already know?

      • Torbjörn Axelsson

        Because marketing only sees one side of the coin, “if I send enough emails, I will get enough answers/leads/sales”.

        The IT person on the other hand, being on the receiving end of not only their own spam but also in charge of one or more spam filters, see what it really means and how much that practice is costing society as a whole.

        As a mere user of the mail system(s) I use, I only see the tip of the ice berg that gets through at a rate of 4-5 per day. In reality, I am likely targeted by at least a few hundred spam emails per day, varying from nigeria scams, virus vectors and phishing to clueless marketeers that are killing their own business without knowing it.

      • Kerrie Mills

        Because of the probable difference in approaches to the problem. Marketing people have research, but IT people have practical experience. Hence,for instance, ‘wow, you know what, I’m sure that wording is designed to appeal, but it sounds a LOT like the text of a phishing attempt.”

        • Daniel Gallagher

          IT is paid to do IT, it is marketing’s job to know what looks like spam.

  • Harold George Wagner III

    This guy can kiss the fattest part of my ass. I did not create an email address to get crap like his ‘marketing email blast’

  • Lord Circe

    I had a similar problem with some work I was doing for the financial department at my office. “Why aren’t these numbers adding up?” I have no clue. I just store and retrieve the numbers, and organize them in pretty reports. You are the one who actually works with them.

  • Fyva Prold

    What mail system returns bounce messages for spam? It should just drop them silently.

    • ShadeTail

      Sometimes people set up their email boxes to send an auto-reply along the lines of: “I’ve blocked your email address, loser, so go jump in the lake.” I’d wager that’s what happened here.

    • Seth

      It doesn’t return a bounce message, it refuses to accept the spam and the sender’s machine generates the error message.

    • It shouldn’t be a bounceback. However, it should refuse to accept the message. The sending mail server should get an error response. (The sending mail server can then report that error in some way, perhaps by generating a bounceback message itself.)

      Microsoft is annoying. They don’t do that. Instead, they accept all email you throw at them, and then just dump some of it into a black hole if they decide they don’t like the look of it. If you have clients with Outlook or Hotmail addresses, they may not receive your messages (such as order invoices, etc.), and you have no way of knowing that. It makes debugging and diagnostics a complete pain.


  • Doc

    You can’t make people want to read marketing e-mails. If they want to, they want to, if they don’t they don’t. A lack of understanding of this is why they probably got blocked in the first place.

  • Denton Young

    Stop sending out e-mail blasts. Problem solved.

  • EffityJeffity

    As a SysAdmin, this sort of request gets passed to me all the time. Infuriating not only for me, but also the user as “it’s a computer thing, so the computer guy should fix it”. Explaining that it’s the other end at fault can be very difficult.

  • Clint

    ugh…My experience working in internal IT support in the past is that this would definitely be an issue we would have been expected to resolve.

    • Mickeyten

      Talk about tech solutions to non-tech problems…

  • livinglately

    I just finished my 3 years of school for marketing so this makes me extra sad

    (And kinda grateful for Canada’s anti spam mail laws. If the customer didn’t subscribe or agree in some way to that email, you’re legally not allowed to send it)

  • Tyler Tenebrae

    So that’s how the subject looks from the other side of the trenches…