Email marketing opt-in and opt-out practices are much debated these days. I’m in the opt-in camp as long as there is an opt-out option. In other words, I think it’s acceptable to add someone to your email list even if they only gave verbal permission (for example), as long as you give them a clear, well-defined unsubscribe option and as long as you respect that choice.
At Lightspan we love unsubscribes. I don’t mean to minimize the negative impact bad email marketing messages have on opt-outs. It isn’t a good sign when people unsubscribe because they think your message is a dog. But it is a good thing when people unsubscribe because they aren’t interested in what you have to sell, in the core product or service itself.
We need to accept that not everyone is an audience for our products and services. If we sold meat products we shouldn’t expect vegetarians to stay on our email list. “I want to get your emails ’cause you’re cool” only works with family. Thus we should welcome unsubscribes.
Also, we prefer unsubscribes to “deletes” or even worse, “spam” clicks. We would much rather that our customers just opt out than hit spam.
Here are our top five reasons to love email unsubscribes:
It’s automatic spring cleaning for better email marketing data and better customer relationship management. The more people take action on their disinterest by unsubscribing the more valuable your email list becomes. You get to communicate in a closer way with those who care to hear from you. When analyzing the demographics of your customer list, each piece of information becomes more relevant because the information is not diluted by the “unfriends.”
It’s a great feedback mechanism. If we notice higher than regular opt-outs on our latest email and check the history to find that 50% of them used to read the email every regularly and this time they opted out it’s a red flag. We might want to look into what in this email turned them off. On the other hand if the campaign had a regular opt-out rate it’s no biggy.
It helps get your emails delivered by lowering the risk of your IP address getting blacklists. If customers can’t opt out they will click spam. In fact most people click delete or spam before using the opt-out option. So why give them extra incentive to do so? And if they do click spam, the email may find its way to the abuse desk of an anti-spam organization and before you know it your email server’s IP address gets blacklisted and a large percentage of your emails won’t get delivered.
It reduces email marketing costs. Let’s stay you have 1,000 recipients and it costs $0.10 per email sent ($100 per campaign) . If 10 people respond to your email and buy $10 worth of product you spent $100 and you made $100 at $0 profit. Now let’s say that you scrub your email list by encouraging unsubscribes from those who don’t care to hear form you, and email 800 people who are truly interested in hearing from you. Those 10 people will still respond but now you only spent $80 for the campaign and made $100. Score, you made a profit!
It looks good to have a clear, uncomplicated, good-will email unsubscribe process.