Dear startups: I know you think your new company is important enough that everyone wants to hear about it all the time, and I know the marketing folks tell you that email newsletters are a great way to keep new customers from forgetting you exist after they sign up, but you’re wrong and they’re lying.
When I sign up to try out your new web app or download your software, giving you my email address is an act of trust. Every signup form these days goes out of its way to make it clear that email addresses won’t be shared with or sold to unsavory characters; everyone knows that’s evil. But when I give you my email address, I’m also trusting that you won’t send me email I don’t want to receive.
There’s nothing inherently evil about email newsletters, but if you don’t allow me, during the signup process, to opt out of receiving your newsletter, you’ve betrayed my trust.
It doesn’t matter if the newsletter contains an easy one-click unsubscribe link; by assuming that I want to receive it and by not explicitly offering me an opportunity to opt out, you’ve guaranteed that I will instantly regret having signed up when I see your newsletter in my inbox. You’ve also guaranteed that I’ll mark your newsletter as spam in Gmail.