Decrease Database Churn To Strengthen Marketing

According to the Silverpop 2014 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study, the poorest performing marketers saw an average opt-out rate of 0.5% per campaign. Though sounding negligible, it could add up to hundreds of thousands of subscribers in a year, making it difficult to outpace list churn. By contrast, unsubscribing among top-quartile performers was so low it barely registered on the scale, says the report.

Besides being a legal requirement, the email unsubscribe can have a significant impact on whether you’re able to grow your database. An effective unsubscribe program enables subscribers to opt out easily but also offers alternatives that can make them want to stay longer.

Many marketers hurry their “unsubscribers” out the door with a one-click, no-alternatives unsubscribe, says the report. But that quick and simple approach doesn’t make it easy for subscribers who want to stay subscribed, but just want to modify what they receive from your company.  Here’s why so much is riding on the unsubscribe process:

  • Knowing why subscribers are bailing out will show how to adjust the digital messaging program to make it more appealing and valuable to drive revenue and loyalty
  • Subscribers who can’t opt out easily will click the “report spam” button or delete them without opening
  • A bad email experience can become a bad brand experience
  • High unsubscribe rates plus spam complaints, undeliverable addresses and inactivity increase acquisition costs and sap the program energy and effectiveness.

Nearly every unsubscribe survey in the last decade has revealed two key reasons for unsubscribes, says the report:

  • Too many emails is usually the No. 1 reason why people opt out of email. More messages than the reader really wants to deal with
  • Not offering content that reflects the recipient’s interests and/or behaviors is a close No. 2.

Unsubscribing among the top 25% of emailers in the Silverpop benchmark study was too low to count, says the report. Middle-level marketers saw average unsubscribe rates around 0.15%. And for the bottom-quartile senders, the median unsubscribe rate was 0.50%.

With a database of 1 million email addresses and a 0.5 percent unsubscribe rate, the loss is 5,000 subscribers every time an email is sent to the entire database; or 260,000 subscribers a year just from a weekly email, not including losses to spam complaints, undeliverable addresses or abandoned accounts with limitless storage, cautions the report.

To grow the million address database 20% annually, besides the the 200,000 new subscribers the 260,000 opt-outs must be replaced, which results in almost 500,000 new subscribers or nearly 42,000 new addresses every month, notes the report.

Retaining even half of potential unsubscribers relieves some of the burden on acquisition and retention programs. It’s definitely worth the time and money spent to develop options for unsubscribing, urges the study.

The report suggests an improved and highly trustworthy unsubscribe program, using these elements:

  • The most important thing to get right is a clearly labeled, functioning unsubscribe link to comply with  Email laws that require that providing a working unsubscribe function in each commercial email.
  • Place the unsubscribe link in a more prominent position to prevent unintended spam selection; even consider putting an additional link at the top of the mail.
  • Besides location, give the unsubscribe link prominence by increasing the font size, and distinguish it from nearby copy and using color or white space.
  • Limit clicking and typing as much as possible. Auto-fill the subscriber’s email address on the Web unsubscribe and address change form or preference page.
  • Comply with the Law which includes 1) A working unsubscribe link or “reply-to” function, along with instructions. 2) A location that makes the link easy to find (Avoid “hiding” the unsubscribe link in a misguided attempt to reduce unsubscribes). 3) No further email contact: Most countries allow a short, reasonable time period for a brand to suppress a subscriber from receiving any more emails. Some countries prohibit sending any more emails once a subscriber has opted out.  4) The unsubscribe link has to remain active for a set time after sending the message.

The report concludes by noting that: Unsubscribing is neither inevitable nor the end of the customer relationship; Creating a trustworthy unsubscribe process and reducing conditions that lead to unsubscribing can help develop a more engaged subscriber base and reduce acquisition burden; It will take time and attention, but can lead to a more lucrative digital marketing program, built on a strong base of loyal customers. 

For additional information from Silverpop, please visit here.

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