Us advertising folks talk an awful lot about targetting. That is, making sure you’re talking to the right person at the right time. It’s not much use sending a catalogue of PC software to a Mac user, for instance – that money would have been much better spent on a PC user, and preferably one who was hankering after some new programs.

So it surprises me that of all the email newsletters I’m signed up to (and by newsletters I mean basically email marketing, but they let me know about products I might like, so they are actually useful to me), not one allowed me to choose what I’d like to be contacted about.

Virtually all the online shopping websites that send me their newsletters have a Christmas edition, an Easter edition, and any other holiday they can jump on (I think “buy a lawnmower for mothers’ day!” was the most desperate example). But they don’t let me choose which ones I want to get.

Seems to me that someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas might not fancy the Christmas edition, for instance. I’m experiencing this myself right now because it’s nearly fathers’ day, and every one of the 19 fathers’ day emails I’ve received so far (and there’s still a good week to go) has been like a goddamn dagger through the heart. My dad’s dead. Don’t rub it in, hey?

I realise it’s not their fault, and also it’s pretty easy just to delete the unwanted ones. But wouldn’t it be better to have a targetting system at signup, so you can opt out of the holidays and events you’re not interested in? I bet more than one person has unsubscribed from a newsletter they otherwise enjoy because they kept receiving terribly targetted emails.

So, if anyone reading this has anything to do with newsletters of any kind, please pioneer targetting in your field. I’m never going to buy a fathers’ day present, and you might just stop me from ditching your borderline-spammy marketing altogether.

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