When it comes to email marketing, it’s a gold mine for data collectors and marketers, all seeking direct access to your inbox. It’s a problem that’s prevailed on the Internet since email first became commonplace, and it’s one that several companies have fought to address. As far as the main email providers go, they all have established pretty effective spam filters, but even these don’t get rid of all unwanted email, nor do they fully address the changing face of consumer privacy, which will have to tackle email at some point.
A new service from startup veteran Jamie Siminoff of PhoneTag fame is addressing unwanted email and security, all while protecting consumer data and providing users the tools to manage their data themselves. The value system behind Unsubscribe.com is the basis of a new trend developing around consumer data, which has become a driving force behind web development, mobile apps, new advertising methods and overall targeting around various consumer demographics. With security becoming an increasing concern, giving more control to the consumers is a way to meet an undeniable demand that will only gain prevalence in this emerging, data-centric economy.
What Unsubscribe does is help you manage unwanted emails, because they’re not all spam, and don’t all fit in these cookie cutter molds to be recognized by spam filters. Those daily flash site alerts you get, or the inescapable Urban Outfitters newsletter… these are examples of things you may want to control, even though they’re not necessarily spam. You could go through your marketing emails and click the “unsubscribe” link, but that takes you through another process, which is sometimes made complicated for the very purpose of discouraging another lost customer. Other times the unsubscribe option malfunctions, or in the case where it is part of an underhanded scheme, it’s actually masking malware, becoming a serious security issue.
“Bacn is growing at such a fast rate, and there’s a lot of friction for the unsubscribe process,” Siminoff explains. “A lot of people just end up hitting the delete button an an email, because that’s the button they have immediate access to. This is why Unsubscribe.com should exist.”
Siminoff is all about providing a simple solution to a frustrating problem, and when it comes to email, it’s one many of us have just learned to deal with. I myself have created dozens of folders with automatic filters, just to clear out some of the newsletters I thought I’d like to keep up with, but don’t need clogging my inbox. Admittedly, I haven’t clicked on any of those folders since setting them up over a year ago.
While Unsubscribe addresses the security and personal management aspects of email, it also has a strong stance on how consumer data should be accessed and used. Instead of generating revenue from its user data, it simply charges for its service and leaves the data to you. Unsubscribe will cost you less than $3 per month, managing your connections with commercial senders from a centralized platform.
Noting the accelerating trend around the profitability of information-gathering, Siminoff decided to make a product that’s just for the consumer. “Because we’re now in the cloud, the PC and mobile phone have become more of a monitor than a consumer tool…you’re dropping bread crumbs everywhere,” Siminoff goes on. “Companies are monitoring these bread crumbs. You can shut it down, but then you’re kind of living on an island alone. As you build this ball of information, there should be technology solutions that let you monitor your data and where it’s going.”
In this early stage, Unsubscribe is focusing on email, a prominent sector for dealing with spam. The service officially launched earlier this year, though its been around since last September, having raised its first round of funds in November 2010. It’s since spent time building its product beyond its initial proof of concept, and looks to expand its services from here.
Fingers crossed, I’m hoping they make a tool to manage Facebook Events messages and alerts.
Kristen Nicole has also contributed to other publications, from TIME Techland to Forbes. Her work has been syndicated across a number of media outlets, including The New York Times, and MSNBC.
Kristen Nicole published her first book, The Twitter Survival Guide, and is currently completing her second book on predictive analytics.