Asking Subscribers To Whitelist You: Is It Ever Too Late?

United Airlines doesn’t think so.

I just got an email from them asking me to add the address they use to send email marketing campaigns to my address book.

The thing is, I’ve been getting emails from them for a while now. Years, I think. And as far as I can tell, they’ve done a good job of getting to my inbox.

The Email From United

I’m used to getting emails from United once every week or two (I believe I signed up when I joined their frequent flyer program).

Typically they contain fare promotions. Nothing really exciting (nothing like say, Kayak’s great email newsletters). But they are consistent, and I do usually take a look at them to see if I might be talked into taking an impromptu trip.

This message was different — not promotional at all. It was dedicated solely to getting me to add them to my address book:


(Click the image above to see the full email)

I Thought This Was Weird…

  • I’d understand asking me to whitelist a new sending address, but the email address they asked me to whitelist is the same one they’ve been using to email me!

    I’ve been getting their emails in my inbox for years — do I really need to do this? (And if so, why?)

    Likewise, if I hadn’t been getting their emails in my inbox, then… I wouldn’t have seen this email. (This is why you ask subscribers to whitelist you right when they sign up, while they’re still on your website)

  • Now (unless they want me to get annoyed at them for overmailing me) they need to wait a while before sending me their next promotion.
  • The entire email is about getting me to add them to my address book.

    But they still include the little text at the top (just like they do in every email I get from them) that says “to ensure receipt of our emails, please add email@info.united.com to your Address Book.”

    Kinda redundant, no?

One other note: those links that say “united.com” don’t actually point to united.com – they point to tracking URLs. Which is a big HTML email no-no because it makes the email look to ISPs like a phishing scam.

I do like that they’re trying to get into subscribers’ address books — that does help your email deliverability, and it’s something we recommend our users ask subscribers to do. Their intentions are good.

And maybe, just maybe, the people whose emails from United are going to the Spam folder will pick out this email, whitelist the address, and get future campaigns in the inbox.

I just can’t help but wonder if United’s approach to whitelisting is bass-ackwards.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you think it’s a good idea to try and get subscribers to add you to their address books further down the road? Am I overanalyzing?

More to the point: would you send out an email like this?

I’m curious… share your thoughts below!