Two smart people had helpful comments about "lost" subscribers in response to a recent article, "You're (Probably) Not Mailing All Your Subscribers."
Ben Chestnut from MailChimp suggested that mailers revisit their soft bounce rules if subscribers complain about unwanted unsubscribes. If an address is deemed unmailable after a certain number soft bounces, that number may be out of sync with your mail cycle. The more frequently a publication is sent, the more soft bounces that should be allowed. Ben suggests that you increase the number of allowed soft bounces until you find the right number. These bounces must be kept separate from the "court of last resort" unsubscribe file, or they'll never be mailed, even if the address again becomes deliverable.
John Engler tells us UnsubCentral also maintains suppression lists that are separate from opt-out lists. "We recommend to our clients that if they're going to 'unsubscribe' bounces, they add those names to suppression lists that are different than their CAN-SPAM required opt-out list... so they know why someone is unsubscribed, and can re-subscribe them if they want, while still maintaining CAN-SPAM compliance. I have many clients who suppress bounces, but know they can easily start sending mail to those addresses, if they become deliverable again in the future."
UnsubCentral is a unique and useful service for companies with affiliates or partners that send out email on their behalf. Each company can provide its opt-out list separately to UnsubCentral in a secure environment and receive the legitimate opt-outs that result from its joint email efforts, without having to share files.
Another important use is for a dispersed sales force that sends prospecting emails. Email can be considered spam regardless of volume, so a single sales solicitation must have an opt-out link, just like a mass mailing. With UnsubCentral, the opt-outs are gathered and available real time, so mailings aren't delayed while waiting for the latest unsubscribe file to be processed. Delays can mean missed mailings or missed opportunities, which can be very costly.
Building a quality email list is one of our greatest challenges. Make sure you're not unintentionally eliminating subscribers who want your email. Check under the hood: make sure you understand how your IT and email systems are handling bounces, non-renewed subscribers and any other action that can put an email address in a suppression file. The only people who should be in your opt-out file are those who have opted out.
The Email Diva
Send your questions or submit your email for critique to Melinda Krueger, the Email Diva, at email@example.com. All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.