I bought a book from Barnes and Noble once. Just once. That was a few years back and ever since I've been receiving their weekly emails telling me about books that are being released and other such stuff that I'm not interested in. I usually just delete these emails on sight. I know they are not spam, because of my one purchase, but I never got around to actually unsubscribing from the list. But the other day I decided to go ahead and click the "unsubscribe" button and be done with it all.

If only it were that easy.

Typically the unsubscribe links at the bottom of these kinds of emails will either go to page that allows you to login and change your subscription options or will announce that you have been successfully unsubscribed. Barnes and Noble, for whatever reason, created a few extra hoops to jump through.

Barnes and Noble 1

The yellow box above the form fields reads (emphasis is mine):

You can access your current alert and newsletter subscriptions in the Keep Me Posted! Preference Center. Please enter your email address below and click the "Get My Link" button. We will send you an email with a link to your personal Preference Center, that will allow you to modify all of your subscriptions.

Here is a company that provides me access to my credit card and other personal information online (via username and password, of course) but they can't give me immediate access to my subscription information? Does that seem right to you? I searched, logged in, searched some more but nowhere found a link directly to my subscription options. The only way to get there is by having them send you a link.

After filling in my email address I'm taken to the following screen. At the top it says "Welcome, Stoney." Yep, that's me. They then thank me for requesting the link and assure me it's been sent. But look at the bottom right. Here are four links in which I can sign up for subscriptions... but I can't unsubscribe from them. What's up with that?

Barnes and Noble 2

I finally get my email with a link to my subscriptions. I go there only to find that I have absolutely no subscriptions checked. None. Zero. All blank.

Barnes and Noble 3

I spend some time looking around and can't find any place in the "keep me posted" area that suggests I should be receiving any emails whatsoever. Now I have to deal with customer service.

I shoot them an email stating my problem and some time later I get back a canned response on how to unsubscribe. So I reply and explain the situation again. Lucky for me, someone actually read what I submitted and manually unsubscribed me.

But seriously, how hard does it have to be? Unsubscribing from email lists should be easy. Do you think they would make the purchase process require an emailed link to complete an order. Not on your life. I've never had to jump through so many hoops to unsubscribe from a mailing list before, especially from a legitimate company. Honestly it makes me not want to purchase anything from Barnes and Noble again so I don't have to go through this nonsense again.

Make unsubscribing from your mailing list easy. It should be a one- or two-step process at the most. Click unsubscribe, change subscription options and you're done. Simple as that. If someone is going to leave, you don't want them to go with a bitter taste in their mouth!

September 12, 2007

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


I hear ya. Last week I received a spam email on those prescription E-D drugs (you know the ones) and it had Barnes & Nobles' subscription info on the bottom. After reading your article, I know why! It's impossible to unsubscribe! I look forward to the technology that will let us email a punch in the nose to folks like this.

Jack Zavada

This happens with so many store newsletters, it's unbelievable. They make it super difficult to impossible to unsubscribe!

You might also want to spread the word on MeasuredUp.com, a website for reviews of products and stores that you really like (or really hate). It's at www.measuredup.com, and it's very easy and rather cathartic.

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