If you're seeing this page, you're probably wondering why we're sending you emails asking you to click a link for apparently no reason.
It's not personal, and it's not to annoy you. The short explanation is that we assume you don't want to hear from us if you aren't clicking on anything we send.
This is serious for us, because if you don't open our emails, but we keep sending them to you, they won't reach anyone, and that puts us out of business.
That may be surprising, so here's a full explanation.
A $25,000 Problem
Most people on our email list want to hear from us. But occasionally people forget that their district signed them up for something, or forget that they signed up personally. And a few of these people mark our messages as “spam” (ouch!), instead of just unsubscribing.
This is a vanishingly small number of people, but it still hurts.
One of our clients, who purchased membership for all administrators in their district, must have had several people mark our messages as spam instead of just unsubscribing.
As a result, the entire district—with whom we had a $25,000 contract—was unable to receive our emails, and unable to participate in our courses that they'd paid for.
After resolving that issue manually, we set up a much more proactive system to prevent this from happening again.
You've already experienced this system: if we show no clicks for 60 days, we start emailing you daily (for about two weeks) asking you to click something.
It may be annoying, but it's incredibly effective, and it stops as soon as you click something.
If you don't click anything, we have to stop emailing you, or else we'll get flagged as spammers (even if you don't mark our messages as spam).
To date, we've dropped more than 5,000 people who never unsubscribed or marked us as spam, but completely stopped opening and clicking our emails. It hurts, but it's the only way we can reach the people who want to hear from us.
How Modern Spam Filters Work
In recent years, email providers like Gmail and Outlook have started to monitor user behavior to decide whether certain emails should be considered spam.
If you continue to receive emails from someone, but don't open or click them, Gmail and other services consider those messages to be unimportant to you.
(Yes, really—Gmail knows whether you're opening messages or not, and takes this into consideration when deciding whether something is spam.)
If even a handful of other people mark that same sender's messages as spam, Gmail believes them, and is much more likely to block of all of our messages.
So it's essential that the people we're sending messages to actually open and click them.
Since the click takes you to our server, our system can tell if you've clicked something, and can mark you as an active subscriber.
If we see no activity for a long time, we have no choice but to drop you as a subscriber. Nothing personal—we just don't want to end up in spam.
But that's not the only problem.
Spam Trap Addresses
Another issue we face is that some districts intentionally keep old email addresses active as “spam traps” after the employees they were once assigned to have resigned.
Let's say we email [email protected] for two years because he's interested in our content, but then Steve retires. If his district uses spam traps, they may keep his email account active to see who keeps emailing him.
Now, the nice thing to do would be to send an auto-reply saying “Steve has retired, so please don't email him any more” so we can remove him from our system manually.
But some districts don't do that; they just block us if we keep emailing Steve.
At this writing, there are around 14,000 districts in the US, and we have far more than 14,000 subscribers on our email list, so even one spam trap address per district could put us completely out of business.
So, thanks for clicking the link that brought you here to let us know your email account isn't a spam trap.
If you do want to unsubscribe from our mailing list, just look at the very bottom of any email we've sent you, and you'll find the unsubscribe link. Select “Unsubscribe from ALL mailings” and you'll be all set.
Thanks for understanding!
Justin Baeder, PhD
Director, The Principal Center