Unsubscribes Don’t Tell the Whole Story

At the most recent Email Insider Summit, a panel of moms talked about how likely they are to just delete unwanted emails instead of reporting them as spam. This is relevant to email marketers because we can often look at statistics like unsubscribe rates and conclude that a low unsubscribe percentage indicates that there aren’t any issues with unwanted email.  However, as the panel indicated and others find, unsubscribing may not be the most likely action for someone who doesn’t want to receive emails anymore.  For example, JupiterResearch reports that 26% of consumers unsubscribe using the spam button.

While the more immediate danger is someone reporting your email as spam, which will negatively impact your ability to reach the inbox (many email providers make it the number one factoring in determining whether an email goes to the junk folder), having a subscriber continually deleting your emails isn’t good either.  At the point that someone starts blindly deleting your emails, the subscriber has become detached from your brand and you are not only wasting money sending to those subscribers, but still considering those type of subscribers as part of your core list could skew results and impact your ability to optimize your emails.

As a reminder, here are some of the best practices to avoid subscribers hitting the spam button or just deleting your emails without even reading them:

  1. Use and adhere to a good opt-in process.  Sending to subscribers who really don’t want your email is an invitation to be reported as a spammer.
  2. Ensure your content is relevant.  For each email sent, you should be able clearly identify what value it provides to the recipient.  Look at alternatives to the mass-blast approach.  Sending the same email to every one of your subscribers makes it more difficult to be relevant.  If you are doing it already, looking at using dynamic content, segmenting, triggered emails, multiple lists, etc.
  3. Practice good list hygiene.  Don’t continue to send to subscribers who have disengaged.  If someone hasn’t opened or clicked on one of your emails in a long time (the actual period depends on a number of factors), remove them from your active list and consider some type of re-engagement program to see if you can recover them.
  4. Make it easy to unsubscribe.  I know the tendency for some marketers is to make it difficult for someone to remove themselves from a list, but that type of approach will only cause problems as at some point, subscribers will start tagging your email as spam.
  5. Don’t look at unsubscribes as the only measure of disengagement.  Realize that a decrease in opens and clicks could be the result of people simply just deleting your emails or marking your emails as spam.  Constantly be assessing whether you are providing something of value that will allow you to continue to keep your audience engaged.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2008 at 7:33 am and is filed under Email Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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