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November 30, 2011


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Edikt LLC

Humble yourself, i believe you want a new BMW more than they need your Business! I wish they would spam me!

Brian L. Hill

My guess: BMW rented lists for a Cyber Monday blow-out. When renting a list, it may not be possible with every vendor to purge opt-outs prior to the blast. So even though you opted out of their internal list, the "PR Rock Star" list BMW payed $.99 per name for still had your name on it. Or, perhaps their database is controlled by that silly iDrive interface...

David Meerman Scott

Brian - Never thought of that. Hmm...

Ruth Sheahan

Rented list = SPAM so, if BMW indeed rented a list, the answer to the question in the title of your post is "yes" :)

Carolyn Winter

I hear you! The only way I could get a handful of companies to weed my address off of every list they created (and they seem to multiple like rabbits) was to either ask about it on Twitter. (somewhat effective) or call a phone number and leave a message. Very effective.

From the bottom feeding spam artists you expect it (and for that I email the web host if I can find it) from brands you adore, it feels like a let down.


Bob Apollo

I'm with Carolyn. It's the brands you have most respect for that suffer the most from this sort of disrespectful behaviour. And - while we're on the subject - I believe we should be lobbying the legislators to mandate a one-click unsubscribe. All this multi-step nonsense is both unnecessary and hugely irritating.

David Meerman Scott

Carolyn and Bob -- YES!!


I agree that the unclear, multiple-step opt-outs are a pain (not to mention purposely confusing). But, often you're notified that just because you unsubscribe does not mean you will be automatically taken off lists--it can take 7-10 days. My guess is that they use a third party to operate that, and therefore are not directly responsible.

Anymore, I just expect to receive less targeted emails (along with the ones I'm interested in) any time I opt in. I don't think it's something that will change, and I don't blame the brand for it.


Not only should emails be easy to opt out of, but accounts should also be easy to terminate. I am SICK of searching for 10 minutes for the link, then being forced to enter survey information, to terminate an account I have on a site. Good marketing should not involve this strange confusing trickery.

Brenda Sullivan

I've gotten to where I "bounce" these spam if I can't unsubscribe in one click.

BMW of North America

We came across your blog entry and would like to apologize for your receipt of e-mails from us after you unsubscribed from our mailing list. A now resolved software issue caused some people who opted out of e-mail to be added to two recent mailings in error.

Your entry this week was good timing as, over the last few days, we’ve been addressing the very issue of developing a streamlined process for managing email subscriptions and opt-outs (including "one-click" opt-out). We plan to launch it next year to resolve many of the concerns you’ve raised. BMW takes CAN-SPAM very seriously and we’re dedicated to offering an experience that not only follows the letter and spirit of the law but is easy to use.

Thanks to everyone on the thread for your feedback; we are listening and are looking forward to offering improved experiences for managing email subscriptions in the near future. We encourage anyone with further concerns about BMW email communications to contact the BMW Customer Relations and Services Department Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., Eastern Time. You can reach us at 1-800-831-1117 or via e-mail at customer.relations@bmwusa.com.

Thank you, BMW of North America, LLC



Its great to see the speed at which BMW responded to your post.

I think this sort of situation offers up a good learning experience for brands both big and small to ensure that there is a global opt-out process if they in fact have a "preference" or "communication" center as a part of their opt-in or opt-out process. Global opt-out can easily be implemented both on the data side and the subscriber experience.

Preference centers or opt-down options for the subscriber can be a great thing for large organizations, but the brand should be cognizant of the fact that in the digital ADD culture that we live in, people demand speed and efficiency from companies today.

I have often blogged and spoken to many brand marketers about not being afraid of the unsubscribe. In fact, brands should embrace it and look for ways to learn from people who simply don't want to get email anymore.

Andrew Kordek

David Meerman Scott

Thank you BMW for responding here in public as well as reaching out to me privately. I'm glad you are taking these observations seriously and are working to resolve the issues I described.

Andrew - Yes on the ADD part. I think in today's real-time world "we will remove you in a week" is just not good enough.

Mark Vogel

Kudos to BMW for the appropriate response. I'm an email marketer that does NOT operate in the massive and complex world of these international brands. My clients each have one list that is overseen by one marketing team. But it is still baffling how this could have happened. And why will an acceptable opt-out process not be in place ASAP, rather than "plan to launch it next year."

As others have said, it's big brands such as BMW with the most to lose. The value of their brand exceeds the value of brick-and-mortar factories and inventories of parts.


I bet this was a case of them switching vendors..(ESP Vendors. Parting ESP said "here is your data, figure it out" and by that lumping in unsubs, unknown users, who then get put back into the general population. Seen it a thousand times.


AND Yes, big KUDOS to BMW. As a proud customer of theirs, I appreciate their initiative to be monitoring the forums concerning this and making a 1:1 effort to explain and resolve.




I think I'm going to get a BMW

Simms Jenkins - CEO, BrightWave Marketing

David - Thanks for sharing and also it is excellent to see a brand come to the table to not only defend themselves but admit some blame as well.

As an email marketing agency CEO, I know that email is often used as "lead and revenue machine" without much further thought and reflection. "We'll figure out it and deal with issues after we send" is often the mindset. Additonally, CAN-SPAM is not optional or a best practice. It's the law here in the US (and one that is lighter than international laws).

This story shows that great brands like BMW can make short sighted mistakes that could lead to far reaching implications when it comes to brand perception and loyalty. So before you think about just firing off the next email (or social, mobile or whatever) campaign or considering email list sources that dont involve direct permission right to your brand, remember this incident.


Simms Jenkins
CEO - BrightWave Marketing
Author of "The Truth About Email Marketing"

David Meerman Scott

Mark and Haus -- thanks for jumping in.

Simms - I really appreciate your perspective. Yes, email marketing is more than leads. As you say, their behavior has far reaching implications.


Another reason to buy a BMW.

Kevin Aires

I want to jump on the complimentary bandwagon. I am a fan of both BMW and corporate ownership of mistakes. While one would expect 'respectable' corporations to lead by example, sadly that is not often the case. On instances such as this where a company truly does try to do the right thing, I like to acknowledge that at least as much as I would a complaint.

As a marketing professional, I can honestly say... there are a bajillion reasons that could have left you on the list. What is more important is, when you called them out, they responded. FYI, it is a fact, the larger the corporation, the more complicated the process to extricate one person completely from a database. Simple economy of scale.

John Counsel

"Additonally, CAN-SPAM is not optional or a best practice. It's the law here in the US (and one that is lighter than international laws)."

Too true. CAN SPAM is widely regarded outside the USA as meaning "yes, you CAN SPAM everyone".

But even the toughest anti-spam laws can still involve loop-holes and escape clauses in practice. Australia's Anti-Spam law imposes a minimum penalty on conviction of AUD$110,000 per offense (ie: per message) for individuals, and AUD$1.1 million per offense for companies. While it has certainly worked in reducing Spam originating locally, it hasn't succeeded in eliminating all Spam.

Agent Nadia Huliai

I am sure BMW, like all big companies use a variety of different software packages to interact with their consumers. These software packages are all independent from each other and don't necessarily talk to each other. Opting out an email should send a trigger to all these software packages but it always takes time to implement these auto triggers which could cause the issue you were having. Between opt-out integration efforts and software bugs, I can easily see this happening.

Sandy Bridge Xeon

Sorry but the FTC will do NOTHING at all. Email and fax spammers have no enforcement from our government. I tried for months filing complaints about fax spammers and the FTC could care less. These companies were reported per instructions. All numbers on the DNC list as well. Violations galore but our law enforcement agencies have no interest in dealing wit this. Heck they didn't even care about Bernie Madoff when that guy handed him on a silver platter 4 times to the SEC.

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