You may have read my recent ClickZ Column on LinkedIn Sending Less Email — what I didn’t know when I wrote it was that the changes were going to have a negative impact on my love life.

Here’s what happened.

I’m not sure it was as clear as it could have been in that article — LinkedIn globally restructured its email program in an attempt to decrease user complaints. It voluntarily cut back send quantities by changing the structure of its triggered email program WITHOUT telling users what it was doing. And without proactively giving them a choice of which emails they would continue to receive and which would stop.

In the article I mentioned that my LinkedIn morning digest, which I read religiously, stopped. I missed it.

It appears that one of the other triggered programs that stopped was sending an email to alert users when someone sends them an InMail. InMail is LinkedIn’s term for a private message sent by someone who is not one of your contacts.

In early August I attended a networking event and ran into an acquaintance. We had a lovely discussion, a mix of business and personal and he asked me if I’d want to get together for sushi and a movie sometime. I’m single, so I readily agreed, it sounded like fun. He said he’d be in touch, I said great.

And then I didn’t hear anything. I was a little bummed.

About 10 days later I went to LinkedIn to do something — and there in my inbox was an InMail from him. It was sent the same night we spoke — and was following up on our conversation. But here’s the problem: the date he mentioned had already passed. I had missed it because in the past LinkedIn ALWAYS sent me an email whenever someone sent me a private message. It never occurred me to be proactively monitoring that inbox; I had never had to in the past.

Why didn’t he send me an email instead? I don’t know. I had assumed we were already connected on LinkedIn, but apparently we weren’t. So an InMail was his only option, since he apparently didn’t have my email address (yes, I know it’s here on this blog, but apparently he didn’t know to look here).

I responded via LinkedIn and explained. I also sent him an invitation to connect there. That was nearly a week ago and I’ve not heard back from him. Probably because LinkedIn hasn’t alerted him about my message or my connection invitation.

I’m sure we’ll connect at some point (Dude, if you are reading this, call me! My phone number is here on this blog as well. I’d love to grab sushi and a movie with you!). And while this is a whimsical example, it showcases one of the pitfalls of globally changing your email program.

There’s no one-size-fits-all for email. Some people likely didn’t miss the morning digest LinkedIn use to send; but I know of at least one person, other than myself, that did. Some people probably found those email notifications about InMail messages annoying; I opened them all and am bummed that one wasn’t sent for this particular message.

LinkedIn said that complaints about their email program dropped by 50% when they globally cut back on sends. Inviting people to update their preferences wouldn’t have had such an immediate effect, but it would have avoided disappointing some people.

It would have been much better to look at opens and clicks on messages and then tailor the decreases to each person, based on what they are and aren’t opening on a regular basis. That would have taken a lot more time and effort on LinkedIn’s part – but it would have avoided disappointing some people.

And I would have been able to go on that date!




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