If someone invests time with you, whether it’s to help with a project, move a sofa, or just go to the movies, it’s appropriate to thank them for their time. They willingly gave of themselves, and deserve a bit of thanks for it.
What if you steal their time, though? Can you still thank them for something they didn’t mean to give you?
Suppose you’re at a farmer’s market and see some amazing apples. You could, if you chose to, walk up and take one of the apples and shout a “thanks for the apple” back to the seller as you walk away. It sounds like something a bully would do in cheesy movies from the 90’s.
I’m finding this in some cold emails that I get, too, and I interpret it the same way. Simply the act of opening the email is an unearned theft of my time, so a “thank you for your time” doesn’t make it any better.
Here’s an example of one I recently received:
They have the “unsubscribe” info at the footer, but you should never find yourself in a situation needing to unsubscribe from something that you didn’t subscribe to in the first place. Seth Godin summed that up perfectly in a post from almost a decade ago:
Some spammers will tell you that all you need to do is opt out. But of course, the very problem with spam is that it requires action on the part of the recipient, action that can’t possibly scale (how many times a day should we have to opt out, communicating with businesses we never asked to hear from in the first place?) People are smart enough to see that once spam becomes professionally and socially acceptable, all open systems fall apart.
This is similar to spammers that want to become a “trusted partner” after starting the relationship with spam, and it’s just such a pitiful way to try to begin a relationship.
You should absolutely include unsubscribe links in bulk emails that you send, you should thank people for their time, and you should work to be trusted partners with those you serve. These are all good things, but only in the right context, and none of them make a cold email any less annoying and spammy than it already is.
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