Although as a company, we are devoted to being the world’s fastest-growing email delivery service, we often touch base with our email marketing folks, too. This blog is dedicated to discussing, the usually non-approachable topic with email marketers – the unsubscribe list. Yes, in theory, it’s looked upon as a negative thing. However, we want to prove why email marketers should appreciate their unsubscribers while also brushing up on some best practices.
You Don’t Want Uninterested Subscribers
Rule #1 – You do NOT want uninterested subscribers, it saves time for both sides. Remember, most of the people on your email lists are customers or prospects. Sometimes during the signup process, you gain subscribers that aren’t the right fit, and that’s ok. When someone unsubscribes, it just tidies your list with people who appreciate your content. These are qualified, engaged prospects.
Big Things May Come in Smaller Lists
Don’t be fooled by having a large email list of subscribers. If you have unqualified subscribers, this will actually damage your open rates. There’s also no point in sending emails to inactive subscribers. This will ruin your inbox deliverability. You want to be able to effectively evaluate your open rate and one way to achieve this is by eliminating the uninterested subscribers.
Make the Unsubscribe Process Foolproof
You want to make sure your customers have the option to opt out. You will gain nothing but annoyance from customers who want to unsubscribe but the link is hidden somewhere in the footer. Let’s look at SuperShuttle as a good example.
If you take this next image, in the Moleskine example, it’s near to impossible to see the unsubscribe button. (FYI: If you have to squint to see the text, I think the point is proven)
Be transparent with your recipients, and make the unsubscribe page simple. Keep it visible and enable people to unsubscribe in just one page load if possible. (See example below)
Another reason to make the Unsubscribe Now option more clearly visible is because, often times, customers will mark your mail as spam if there’s no easy way to opt-out. As a commercial email sender, you do not want this. It’s important to appreciate the fact that unsubscribes save your reputation, as they’d otherwise be marked as junk.
However, there are ways to deal with spam complaints if they creep up on you, and our deliverability experts have covered these topics extensively. Using Feedback loops (FBLs) for unsubscribes is another way to effectively manage your email marketing strategy. Feedback loops are crucial to be able to unsubscribe a member from your email list. You want to avoid subscribers submitting complaints, which will hurt your overall deliverability. Find out more information on spam from our previous blogs.
Don’t Encourage Opt-Out, Encourage Opt-Down
If you are particularly concerned about your opt-out figures, you can always use different methods to deter your subscribers from leaving. Consider implementing an email preference center and give the customer the option to manage their subscription settings. This is a win-win for you and the customer because they receive the emails they want, or opt-out completely. Plus, you receive more information about the customer’s interests. You want to ensure that your customers do not feel suffocated and instead build a healthy relationship and association with your brand.
Understand the List Churn
If you take nothing away from this post, you should hone in on this point. Unsubscribers bring to light a company’s churn rate. Your churn rate is the percentage of how many subscribers leave your list at any given period of time. You can look at it as transparent churn (they voluntary unsubscribed) or opaque churn (they are failing to see your emails). List churn can make up as much as 25% of your list every year. It’s an efficient way for email marketers to re-evaluate their engagement with subscribers. If you want to calculate your own churn rate, you can do it here.
They May Leave Email, But Prompt For Social Media
When a recipient says bye, it doesn’t have to mean forever. Let’s say the unsubscriber quite simply gets to the unsubscribe page and follows through. This is your chance to promote your social media pages. Perhaps some subscribers want to clear their inbox, but they’re happy to spot the occasional Tweet or Facebook post. Remember, all these tricks are ways to discover more information about your audience.
The Big Question: Why?
No matter what, make sure to ask your customers why they’re leaving. This is not a mechanism to make them stay, rather a way for you to collect feedback on your list building process overall. Did they sign up by mistake? Did they sign up at all? Or were the emails just no longer relevant to them? You can gain really valuable insights on your email marketing strategy from your unsubscribers, so make sure to capitalize on the why.
In the course of my day I see a lot of good, bad and the proverbial ugly. Recently I ran across something I’d call really good: Frank & Oak’s unsubscribe page. Frank & Oak is an Internet retailer and I subscribed to them to investigate their mobile app. The app requires that you login with an email address to see their products (SMART! Now they can connect the app user to an email address). After receiving email for months, and not purchasing anything, I decided it was time to shut down the mail stream. I clicked the unsubscribe link in their email and was taken to a rather refreshing and paired down page:
Frank & Oak’s unsub page is picture of perfect utility that quickly allowed me to decide do I want fewer emails or do I completely want to turn off the tap? There is nothing extraneous, there is no login required, the shut off valve isn’t hidden 2-3 pages down, or buried under a metric ton of encouragement to stay—it’s right there, highlighted in red. Red suggests danger/attention but that’s not what’s happening here.
Let me Explain.
Unsubscribes are your friend. That’s right, unsubscribes are your best friend because the alternative is your worst enemy: spam complaints. Users who unsubscribe from your email feed might someday come back, or as in my case, be delighted to see a simple page that gives me choice and the ability to control my inbox’s fill rate.
If a user can’t unsubscribe easily from your newsletters or promotions because you buried one or two clicks down from the initial page, or obfuscate the unsub mechanism in some other manner then the alternative (to make the mail stop) is to click the spam button. Enough spam complaints and your email will invariably begin to deliver to the spam folder en masse, not just to one person—spam complaints have a cumulative effect. If enough spam complaints happen on a given domain or IP in a short span of time then the rest of the email may/will be routed to the spam folder.
So which would you rather have? A customer that dials down how often and how many emails you send them or a spam complaint?
The choice is yours, however, consider the age in which we life: we’re living among empowered consumers—this includes you. You have a tremendous amount of power to control the conversation that brands have with you. You can shut off their marketing, chose their rivals, never visit a store, complain on social media and bend the ear of the world. Since the power structure of consumption and advocacy has shifted from the brand to the consumer, you have to apply customer centric tools and marketing, like this light, efficient and delightful page to let customers quickly make the right choice for their life style (and your brand), vs. punishing you for being overzealous in your approach. There’s an old saying: If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were—that’s what you need to keep in mind when designing your unsubscribe page.