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I’ve always liked Shaw. They have fast internet (well, for BC), they don’t cost that much more than their competitors, and their customer service people are top notch. But oh, their marketing department…

Many years ago I tried to get myself removed from Shaw’s Big Picture Newsletter. I emailed back and forth and eventually was told that as long as I was a Shaw customer I had to receive their newsletter. They told me I could use filters if I wanted to filter it to the trash, and I told them it would be easier for me to just mark it as spam, which I promptly did. This is a big problem for legitimate marketers who do not follow permission standards: you lower the value, and lifetime value, of your customers, while potentially getting hit by spam penalties and finding your emails going straight to spam folders.

Recently I started a new account with Shaw and once again the promotional email started at an absurd rate. Every couple of days I’d get something new, be it a Shaw newsletter, a digital phone add or what have you, but there was something new this time: an unsubscribe link. This prompted me to think perhaps Shaw had changed their ways, and I could simply unsubscribe through there.


The Steps to Unsubscribing from Shaw Email:

The Shaw unsubscribe process prompts you first to enter your user name and password. Anyone familiar with Shaw knows that you tend to use this once to set up your account, and then never again. Fortunately for me I had just set up my account .

Of course that doesn’t take you to an “unsubscribe” screen, oh no. It takes you to your account summary! How intuitive!

Now maybe you noticed those little letters in the upper right hand corner, as far away from any email settings as possible, between “delete webspace” and “log out” there is the word “subscriptions”. Aha!

Here we are, subscription settings! By default they are all checked. Too bad Canada doesn’t require that email marketers attain permission first, eh?

But there’s a catch!

Looking at the promotional mail for Shaw Digital Home Phone service I noticed this at the bottom:

If you’ve unsubscribed from promotional emails, but decided to keep receiving the newsletter, you will keep receiving specific promotional email because they bundle it in to the “newsletter” section. Come on Shaw, that’s just straight out dishonest.

But that should be it, shouldn’t it? No more emails? Well…

30 days. 3x the legal max under CANSPAM. Why would Shaw require a whole month to stop sending you emails?

I received nearly five emails in that time. Five emailsafterI unsubscribed.

Shaw’s Email sins:


They don’t have it. At all. Shaw just places everyone in their network on their marketing list then insists that they unsubscribe if they don’t want to be on it. This kind of opt-out campaign really does you no favours, as it builds disloyalty early on, infringes on your customers, and gets you hit by spam complaints.

Easy Unsubscribe:

They make the unsubscribe process long and unintuitive instead of simply taking people who click “unsubscribe” to their subscriptions center. Again, this annoys people, makes them mark your email as spam.

Relevant Content:

I didn’t mention this above, but I’ve told Shaw on multiple occasions that I am not interested in TV (I dont watch it) nor digital phone (I make long distance calls with Skype for 1/20th the cost). I am, however, interested in high speed internet offers, but they don’t want to send me those because I am already paying top dollar for their services.

So what email do I get from them?

Don’t send too much:

There is some debate about how frequently you should send email. I am sure that Shaw has tested their service and found an optimum frequency for conversions, but as a user receiving several emails a week advertising Shaw promotions (as is default under a new shaw account) I would be tempted to never use my shaw email again.

Why Should They Care?

Shaw is in a situation where they don’t really need to think about the consequences of poor email marketing as much as a normal email marketer. Unlike most other email marketers they control not only the content being distributed but the means of distribution. If you mark Shaw mail as spam you send that “black mark” to Shaw itself. Further, marking email as spam hinders important emails from Shaw, such as online billing, meaning that for the most part you don’t want to mark them as spam at all.

However their system not perfect. For one, not everyone uses their Shaw mail (perhaps as a result of this), many people forward their email into web based clients, such as Gmail, Hotmail, which Shaw has no control over. Then when you consider that 43% of people will use the “report spam”instead of an actual unsubscribe, and Shaw makes unsubscribing notoriously difficult, youve pretty much got all of that email getting marked as spam. Sure they probably don’t have to be worried about a tarnished IP (they’re an ISP, getting a new IP to send from is trivial), but their domain, email content, and keywords are all going to be affected by this.

Additionally, their marketing (both email and phone) creates a negative experience for their customers. Shaw has always patted itself on the back over its fantastic customer support (their customer support really is good) and prided itself on a great customer experience. But it’s marketing department seems to have the opposite opinion, harassing customers left and right with offers regardless of how often they refuse, or in this case unsubscribe.

Finally, I am willing to bet that their open rate and click through rate are dismal. By just applying to basic email standards Shaw can increase their conversions from email while reducing their email list, building a better customer experience, and maintaining customer loyalty.

Update:Well, Shaw got back to me after nearly a month and removed me from all mailing lists, as well as placing me on a do not call list. We’ll see how well it all works, but so far I haven received a call or email promoting anything by them! Go Shaw! As I’ve said, their marketers are horrible, but their customer support people are great.