As Marketers, we’re constantly working to keep customers from unsubscribing. We closely monitor unsubscribe rates to look for trends over time. We look for every possible way to prevent them from happening, believing that the lower the number the better. But I’d like to propose the unconventional, if not radical, notions that when supported by a basic preference center, 1) unsubscribes are good, valuable and constructive actions and 2) unsubscribe options need to be more visible in the promotional emails we send.
1. Mitigate Risk
One aspect of an unsubscribe that often is overlooked, is what it can prevent. While we hate to see subscribers leave, when an unsubscribe happens, it means the customer is far less likely to click a “This is Spam” button in their inbox that could result in a damaged deliverability rating and possible blacklisting.
Along those lines, an unsubscribe from a specific type of email via a preference center can prevent a contact from choosing a global unsubscribe option. This is often the very reason for having a preference center, but it’s still helpful to keep in mind that a preference unsubscribe represents a contact that is still engaged and eligible to receive other communications.
2. Improve Your Numbers
In most cases, as unsubscribes go up, so do overall open and click rates. When subscribers who were never engaged with your content leave, the needle tends to move in a more positive direction. This is simply an acknowledgement that, given a choice, a person who is not engaged with or invested in your content would choose not to receive it.
3. Make it Easy
It is standard practice for email unsubscribe links to be placed at the bottom of the email, in small type, often in a color that’s only slightly different than the email’s background. Burying the link discourages clicking, but is that what we really want? The UX for this should ideally be treated the same as any other CTA placed in the email and be clear and easy to understand.
4. Control the Process
Gmail, and other email service providers, routinely provide their own system-generated unsubscribe link that’s placed at the top of the email, often next to the Sender information. The Gmail links use the List-Unsubscribe header that many, but not all, email platforms include with each send. When clicked, the outcome can vary from an unsubscribe from similar emails, to a global unsubscribe from all emails from your organization.
There’s nothing you can do to prevent this link from being present, but you can offer an alternative that leads to the outcome you want and highlights one of the reasons it’s important to make the process easy and clear.
5. Learn from it
Consider offering an optional place for feedback in the unsubscribe process. This practice is becoming more and more common, but there are some pitfalls to be aware of and avoid. For starters, keep it short. No one is going to take time to choose from a dozen options. Instead, ask for the basics – was it you or was it us? In other words, try to determine if the unsubscribe is the result of something like the contact changing roles or if it’s the content, frequency or some other aspect of the email that you could exert some control over. Over time it may help you identify trends you can get out in front of.
A customer who’s decided they no longer wish to receive your emails is not inherently a bad thing. People switch roles within organizations, budgets and priorities change making emails that were once relevant, no longer valuable. Giving these contacts a simple, clear and intuitive way to exit can lead to positive outcomes. It can help ensure that other, more relevant messages continue to be delivered. It will leave contacts with a more positive impression of your organization and keep the door open for future engagement.
As always, if you have any questions about preference centers or list management, Relationship One is here to help.