Opening Promotional Emails = More Promotional Emails

emailMany people might not know this, but nestled inside every promotional email is a hidden pixel, a tiny 1 pixel image that’s the same color as the email background, that serves an important purpose for every email marketing campaign: tracking and collecting user data. Since every image lives in some nebulous server space with a requisite URL, you can use analytics programs to gather tons of important data about those opening your newsletters and promotions, including geographic location, whether you clicked on any links, when you clicked, what you clicked, how long you stayed on the website after clicking, whether you’ve made a purchase within a set time frame of opening the email and clicking a link, etc. All of this is used to collate a pattern of behavior in order to better market and advertise to you via email. Believe it or not, it’s standard practice, and it’s rather ingenious. You only want to receive emails about topics and products relevant to your interests, right? This method of tailoring content based on your consumer behavior ensures relevancy in the long run. For those who don’t want their behavior tracked, there’s always the option of opening text-only versions of emails.

So what happens when you don’t open promotional emails and newsletters? After a while you get taken off the main mailing list and put on a sub-list that will be targeted with a more significant incentive to purchase. This can come in the form of a coupon code, an exclusive but time-sensitive sale, or it can simply be a reminder email asking where you’ve been. If you’re familiar with the email marketing process, it might actually benefit you to open the first few promotional emails you get from a company you’ve signed up with to trigger the tracking pixel, then waiting a few weeks for them to send you a better deal. One of the most important goals of email marketing is customer retention; you might even notice additional incentives thrown your way when you try to unsubscribe from promotional emails!

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from opening promotional emails – not at all! There’s a reason why you signed up for them in the first place! Open the ones you want to keep receiving and unsubscribe from those you don’t want to hear from anymore. Additional Tip: If you didn’t sign up for something but you receive emails from a sketchy source, block them. Clicking the unsubscribe button they provide might only exacerbate your SPAM problem!

Privacy Policy – Read at Least One of These

A site’s privacy policy is one of the most important documents you should read, especially when you need to sign up for an account. Every website should have one, and it should detail exactly what kind of data it’s collecting from you, how they’re going to use that information, and who is entitled to that information if and when they get sold, bought, or merged. The privacy policy is a sister-document to the User Agreement or Terms and Conditions, which usually states that by using the site, you are also agreeing to some level of data collection by way of tracking cookies and IP Address logs.

True, these two documents aren’t the most thrilling pieces of writing in the world, but it’s very important that you familiarize yourself with the type of language they use. Also you’re agreeing to something! Why would you ever agree to something if you don’t understands the terms and conditions? We’re all in the habit of clicking “Yes, I agree to the Terms and Conditions” box just to get to the next screen. Most of the time no harm will come of it, but do understand that the legalese most often protects the site owner first and the users second.

Most importantly though, the privacy policies of a website will state that the information they collect about you will be shared with their partners, including advertisers, in order to better target you as a potential buyer of a product or service. A great number of sites are connected to Google, which means that your searches and its contents are being monitored, collected, and shared with any company partnered with Google so that ads relevant to your interests are more likely to pop up in banners, side panels, and “promoted” sections of other sites you visit.

Don’t willfully put yourself in the dark about this type of practice. Read over a privacy policy and user agreement at least once just to see how your personal information is being used. If you don’t care, carry on. If you do, then learn ways to protect yourself by doing research, or by reading more posts from my blog. No pressure! Just letting you know it’s there!