Wednesday’s email flurry coincided with the last day of my weeklong vacation. My brief backlog panic was followed by smirks as I sampled and catalogued the ensuing barrage –that is, of course, until IT intervened to put an end to the fun. As I see it, the responses fell into four discreet categories:
- Clueless. The most common response, by far, was some variant of “remove me from this list” (I actually prefer the more effective “Remove me from this list NOW”). Needless to say, the “reply all” approach combined with a basic misunderstanding of what was actually happening was rather amusing.
- Helpful-not-helpful. Be it the response to all asking folks to please stop responding to all; the multiple (misguided) instructional guides on what to do in this situation or the creative subject line changes (“STOP REPLYING TO ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” or, my favorite subject line, “Are you people insane! I have had to delete over 400 emails just hit REPLY--NOT REPLY TO ALL”). These well-meaning folks forgot the first rule of spelunking: when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!
- Funny. By far my favorite category. There were memes (dinner for schmucks’ Therman saying “I release you”; the photo of Willy Wonka with “oh, you hate it when people reply all? Please reply all and tell me how much”; office space’s Steve Lundberg “mmm, yeah, could you stop hitting ‘reply all’, that’d be great” and the office’s Dwight Schrute with “100+ reply all’s, I think we need to get HR involved in this”). There were the chain letter references (although not that funny). There was sarcasm (at least I hope it was). And the fan favorite “My phone is vibrating so much I’m moving it to my front pocket”.
- The rest of us. Whether deliberate or because it had all gone down before normal office hours in the mountain time zone, I’d say about 95% of the company did the right thing and stayed out of the fray. That said, having 5% call-to-action response rates is pretty good! Maybe there is a lesson for our outbound campaigns (then again, annoying prospects may not be the best approach).
I expect this email, announcing the weekly donut arrival won’t elicit that kind of response, but if it does, you can rest assured I’ll have a large grin on my face.