Double Opt-In Email Intros

Reposting from my other blog, because this blog is way better for it. 


You know those “introduction” emails? Someone thinks you should meet someone else, and emails happen about it. Or it’s you doing the introducing, either by request or because you think it’s a good idea. Cutting to the chase here, those emails could be done better. Eight years ago, Fred Wilson coined the term “double opt-in intro”.

This is how it can work.

You’re doing the vetting

Since you’re writing the emails here, it’s your reputation at stake here. If you do an introduction that is obnoxious for either side, they’ll remember. Make sure you’re introducing people that you really do think should know each other. Like a bizdev cupid.

You’re gonna do two (or three) times writing

The bad way to do an intro is to email both people at once. Even if this introduction has passed your vetting, you have no idea how it’s going to turn out. There is a decent chance either of them or both aren’t particularly interested in this, which makes you look like a dolt. It doesn’t respect either of their time, puts your reputation at risk, and immediately puts everyone into an awkward position (if they ignore it they look like an asshole).

Instead, you’re going to write two emails, one to each person you’re trying to introduce. And you’re not going to reveal who the other person is, except with non-identifying relevant details and your endorsement.

They do the opt-ing in

If either of the folks are interested in this introduction, they can email you back. Give them an easy out though, I’d say something like “if for any reason you aren’t into it, just tell me so or ignore this, I promise I understand”. If you don’t make it easy to blow you off, it’s your just transferring the awkward situation to yourself.

If either of them isn’t into it, it doesn’t matter. They don’t know who the other is and there is no awkwardness or burnt bridge.

If both are into it, great, now it’s time for the third email actually introducing them. Get out of the way quickly.

It’s about more than awkwardness and reputation, it’s about saftey

See:

Just because you have someone’s email address in your book doesn’t mean you should be giving it out to anyone that asks. Better to just assume any contact info you have for someone else is extremely private and only to be shared with their permission.

Nick Douglas’ “How to Ask for Advice Over Email”

Great list:

  • Spend 95% of your time researching the person you’re emailing, and 5% writing the email.
  • Introduce yourself quickly but specifically, and ask specific questions.
  • Ask one or two questions. Not three! You’ll feel like adding a third because your email looks too short. It’s not.
  • Google your questions first.
  • Don’t offer to “hop on the phone” as a compromise. That’s not a compromise, it’s a threat.
  • Say “Even one sentence would be great.”
  • Novelist Tao Lin came up with this one: Tell the recipient it’s OK to ignore your email. Not just to say no, but to completely ignore it.
  • Say thank you.
  • As soon as you’re ready to send, find and delete at least one sentence.
  • Send and move on. Never “follow up.”

Email Statistics Report

This company The Radicati Group, Inc. produces “quantitative and qualitative research on email, security, instant messaging, social networking, information archiving, regulatory compliance, wireless technologies, web technologies, unified communications, and more.” Looks like one report will run ya about $7,500, but they publish summaries, including the email one. It has some interesting stuff in it:

In 2015, the number of worldwide email users will be nearly 2.6 billion. By the end of 2019, the number of worldwide email users will increase to over 2.9 billion. Over one-third of the worldwide population will be using email by year-end 2019.

Over the next four years, the average number of email accounts per user ratio will grow from an average of 1.7 accounts per user to an average of 1.9 accounts per user

As in, most people have 2 email addresses.

In 2015, the number of business emails sent and received per user per day totals 122 emails per day. This figure continues to show growth and is expected to average 126 messages sent and received per business user by the end of 2019.

They say “consumer email” continues to grow as well, but mostly because of stuff like notifications and not so much “interpersonal communication.”

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Quinn Norton for the Atlantic:

Email has changed since [the 1970s], but not much. Most of what’s changed in the last 45 years is email clients—the software we use to access email. They’ve clumsily bolted on new functionality onto the old email, without fixing any of the underlying protocols to support that functionality.

The article is mostly about the efail stuff and how it’s apparently inherently bad that email can be HTML because it brings the vulnerabilities of web browsers to email clients. Fair point. Pretty impressive that those protocols and such haven’t changed for half a century. What’s the HTTP/2 of emails going to be?

How much is email worth to you?

Fascinating little 10-minute podcast from Planet Money’s The Indicator that put a data-driven dollar value on some of the biggest internet services.

When economist Tim Harford was planning a trip to China, he realized he would not be able to access a lot of the online services he has come to rely on: no email, no maps, no internet search. He started to wonder what the value was for these services and he came across a study that look at just that: It put a dollar amount on how much these services are worth to us.

The least valuable to people? Social Media. The most? Search. Second place? Email.

Should I just get a new email address?

This seems like the nuclear option! Your email is so out of control that you literally give up and start over completely fresh. This might be fine for Beyoncé, but her success seems a little more locked in that yours or mine. 

This also seems awful dangerous to me. How many people are going to continue to send emails into the ether after you’ve made the switch? How many left hanging who already have? How many bills you’ve forgotten to pay lost in there?

Setting up an autoresponder telling people you’ve changed it is a possibility, but then what are you gaining by switching at all? 

The way I’ve seen it most commonly done is to essentially split your email. You create a new one that is your new squeaky clean email universe. Perhaps you email all the most important people in your life to tell them about it, and some small percentage of them notice and care. But then you also keep checking your old email address, because of course important stuff still pops up in there. The fix has become more work than the solution. 

Without having done any deep research here, I’d suggest not going nuclear with a new email. Fight that fight and clean up that existing email so it’s useful to you again. It’s a battle of unsubscribes and even filtering if necessary, but it can be done and you’re left with a stronger email history. Remember it doesn’t have to be done overnight.

It’s like a publication on the web. When they want to make big changes, they make big changes to the site they already have, they don’t get a new URL. Too much SEO value with the old one. 

GDPR Emails

Everybody is getting pounded with emails from apps that are changing their privacy policy or doing things like re-validating their marketing email lists. But I think I’ve read more joke tweets about it than actual emails!

https://twitter.com/fart/status/999414307417812992