Welcome to yet another Cyber Monday, that annual bacchanal of discounted Instant Pots. Whether you’re partaking in deals this year or passing them by, take a moment to embrace the season’s true gift: all the emails you’ve been meaning to unsubscribe from, all in one place, all at the same time.
It’s a tip so simple that it barely registers as one, but maybe it will help you regain some inbox zen. Today more than any other, every single marketer in possession of your email address has set their phasers to send. Luggage startups, dog DNA kits, so many clothes companies, all pushing percentage discounts SITEWIDE in the FINAL HOURS of THE BEST MONDAY OF THE YEAR, to quote just a few. If you’re a Gmail user, check your Promotions inbox. They’re all there waiting for you, except for the few that managed to slip over to the Updates tab.
How deep you’re buried under deals emails depends on how many lists you’ve signed up for along the way; I’ve gotten over 70 Cyber Monday offers in the last 24 hours alone, including multiple from a few brands that seem especially parched. (Pottery Barn, please relax.) And at the bottom of each and every one is a link to unsubscribe. In fact, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 legally requires bulk emails to include a clearly articulated way for you to opt out. It usually just takes a couple of clicks.
Most email providers also give you a small shortcut. Gmail automatically appends an Unsubscribe link next to the sender’s name when you open a marketing email on the desktop. Click it, and a pop-up will ask if you’re sure you want to go through with it. Hit Unsubscribe one more time, and you’re set. There’s no comparable unsubscribe option in the Gmail app, but you can block a given sender by opening an email, tapping the three-dot menu on the right side of the screen, and selecting Block. Since most companies use different email addresses for spam and receipts, blocking deals emails won’t keep the latter from coming through going forward.
The iOS Mail app and Outlook both offer a similar Unsubscribe link at the top of emails, saving you from scrolling to the bottom and combing through the fine print for one. As a bonus, they also work on mobile. (And while you’re fiddling around on iOS, maybe take a minute to cancel any lingering subscriptions you’re not using anymore.)
Yes, there are automated tools that will do all of this for you. But when you link a service like Unroll.me to your Gmail account, they can—and do—then turn around and use your “transactional emails” to fuel marketing reports. That came as a nasty surprise to Unroll.me users in 2017, and maybe still would in 2019.
You can, of course, do your unsubscribing on an ad hoc basis, canceling emails as they come in. But that’s what makes Cyber Monday such a splendid opportunity for razing your inbox: They’re all there in one place, stacked atop one another like desperate Jenga blocks. Just go to your Promotions tab, scroll back to whenever feels right—if you’re feeling truly ambitious, start last Thursday for the Black Friday surge—and start unsubscribing from any brand you don’t want to hear from ever again, or at least until the next time you inadvertently wind up on their list. Just know that retailers have up to 10 days to process your request, so a few missives might slip through before the cancelation takes hold.
Maybe you don’t want to unsubscribe from everything; that’s fine, too! But it’s worth taking a few minutes out of your life today to make your inbox’s invite list a little more exclusive. It’ll be a whole year before you get this clear a shot at it again.
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