Photo by Adam Solomon on Unsplash

Let’s talk about permission marketing. Again.

Back in February (which feels like a lifetime ago), I wrote about a local entrepreneur who sent me three emails a day, hustling their services.

Last week, something similar—but decidedly different—happened. I got an email from one of my LinkedIn connections sent via an email marketing platform (which is to say, they did not type my email into the “to” field; rather, they added me to their mailing list). When I initially connected with this particular person, I made it very clear that I was happy to connect for networking purposes, but I was not interested in their services as a customer.

But it doesn’t matter. I never said they could add me to their mailing list.

Like what happens most times I click Unsubscribe, I was taken to a page that asked why:

I wanted to select the third radio button: “I never gave my permission to receive these emails, please report this as abuse.”

But I didn’t. Instead, I wrote them this email:

Hi [hustler’s name],

I wanted to let you know that I unsubscribed from your mailing list. When asked why, I was going to select, “I never gave my permission to receive these emails, please report this as abuse,” because it’s true. But I decided not to as a courtesy to you and am instead sending you this email.

I assume you got my email address from LinkedIn after we connected. I was very explicit in my message to you that I am not looking for [type of services] right now.

I never asked to be put on your mailing list. I encourage you to read Seth Godin’s blog post about permission marketing and think about how you can change your practices in order to be more respectful of your contacts and potential customers. He writes, “Just because you somehow get my email address doesn’t mean you have permission.”

I hope you take this to heart.


I felt good about what I wrote. I felt like my message was stern but helpful.

Ten minutes later, I received this response:

Hi Aaminah,

That’s ok, I get unsubscribes every day. I didn’t even know you were getting those emails, sorry. It is done by my VA.

Looking forward to seeing you later.
Ooh boy. Where to begin?
  1. My name is not Aaminah.
  2. I was not apologizing for unsubscribing.
  3. Way to blame it on someone else.
  4. We are not seeing each other later. (Maybe they’re seeing someone named Aaminah later?)

I’m not going to respond to try and clear up any confusion. It’s not worth it. I feel like my professional goodwill was exploited in the name of beefing up an email list (which, if you clicked over to my post from February, you know is not nearly as valuable as your relationships).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been getting so many more cold messages on LinkedIn than before COVID. My heart goes out to everyone trying to stay afloat. So, if you need some help, I encourage you to reach out! Have a conversation with me! I would love to help you by making an introduction or suggesting a listserv or newsletter to subscribe to.
It might not lead anywhere, but I can guarantee I won’t unsubscribe.

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