Best Practice Advice
The 9 golden rules of unsubscription
In this ‘Ask the Experts’ article, Bruno Florence, President of France’s National Association of Direct Marketing and independent CRM and Email Marketing Consultant, highlights the importance of the unsubscription process and provides you with best practice advice on this area.
Providing a uncomplicated unsubscribe process is an important part of the customer relationship. According to a survey by Return Path only one third (33%) of consumers reported that they are likely to use the unsubscribe button first. Giving a quick exit to those who wish to opt out rather than dragging out the process and infuriating users who can mark your email as spam is integral to any unsubscription process.
What are the risks if you hide the unsubscription link?
A reader who wishes to unsubscribe from your email but can’t find the unsubscription link easily will have no option but to mark the email as spam. A study by Marketing Sherpa found that ‘39% of all respondents said they used the "report spam" button often or very often’, making this a very real problem for email marketers.
How to improve your unsubscribe process
1) Provide a simple and easy unsubscribe option: The key to ensuring customer satisfaction is to make the unsubscription process easy. The link should take the recipient directly to a page where they are removed from your mailing list. Avoid compulsory codes or passwords when the user wants to unsubscribe. Make it as simple as possible by pre-populating the recipients’ email address and use a simple confirmation button on the unsubscription page.
2) Don’t hide your unsubscription link: Provide a visible, underlined, one click unsubscription link in the footer. You can also try placing it in the header to see if this is more effective for your audience. The more a company tries to hide the unsubscription link, the higher the complaint rate. The performance of email campaigns will also steadily decrease because of the high number of inactive contacts.
3) Regularly test your unsubscription link: A lot of unsubscription links do not work because they are never tested, except at the time of creation. Before each send out test the link and make sure that the recipient has been removed from your mailing list.
4) Design is key to the unsubscription page: Unsubscription pages can often be forgotten by companies and therefore are not always up to date. Keep the design comparable to your email by using similar graphics and buttons. The unsubscription page is the last opportunity to make an impression so ensure it’s a good one!
5) Understand the preferences of people in your email list: Some recipients may not wish to be cut off from all communication from your company. Instead of having a direct link only to unsubscribe recipients, provide them with options. Consider giving them the chance to receive emails less frequently, for example ‘Do you want to unsubscribe completely or do you want to receive only one email a week or one email a month?”
Recipients might just not be interested in what you are sending them. Let them edit their preferences. Perhaps they now only want to receive articles instead of promotional material, for example. With this information you can set up specific campaigns based on their actual interests. This will limit unsubscriptions and enable you to gather more relevant information to improve your email campaigns.
6) Ask why a recipient is unsubscribing: Understanding why someone wishes to unsubscribe gives you a great insight into why the relationship is no longer working. This must be an optional measure though and shouldn’t prevent people from unsubscribing.
7) Send confirmation: Best practice is to send a confirmation email immediately after unsubscription. This reassures users that you have dealt with their request and looks professional.
8) Giving a deadline: Set expectations by clearly informing the recipient when they will be unsubscribed. In some countries immediate unsubscription is obligatory particularly in the US.
9) Checking replies: Monitor your reply inbox on a regular basis as users sometimes unsubscribe by replying to the email. If this isn’t checked you could risk missing unsubscriptions and increase the number of inactive addresses.
This article is a summary of eCircle’s newsletter "Inside Digital Marketing". If you wish to receive further news from the email marketing sector please subscribe here: http://www.ecircle.com/en/newsletter