Leverage Your Unsubscribes

Leverage Your Unsubscribes A recent In-Box Insiders discussion was whether a click on the unsubscribe link in an email should be included in the response rate calculation, as would a click on a product link.

While most agreed that this negative action should not be counted as a positive, Stephanie Miller, vice president of strategic services for Return Path, made this excellent point: "I don't think unsubscribes are negative. They are simply feedback -- and as such, are positive in that they are actionable for marketers who care about creating solid subscriber experiences. There are lots of reasons why someone wants off the list, and usually it's an indication of relevancy."

This raises two important aspects of leveraging unsubcribes: learning from the data, and working to mitigate them.

The Email Diva's first-ever article for MediaPost was on a new way to calculate the unsubscribe rate: unsubs/responders, which measures those who clicked on your email for the sole purpose of getting off your list. Try it and you'll see greater variances from cell to cell and campaign to campaign. When you look at the data over time, and sort from high to low, you'll see which content had the most or least resonance with your customers. As Stephanie points out, it will help you understand relevance in the eyes of your readers.



Your opt-out process provides an excellent opportunity to gather feedback and preferences. Address these four aspects:

1. Content Preferences -- Give subscribers the options to indicate their preferences to improve relevance. These can either be positive "I am interested in silent sports" or negative "I am not interested in articles on camping."

2. Frequency Preferences -- Allow subscribers to reduce the volume of communication: "Send me email only once per week/month/quarter/year" (depending on your sending frequency). According to Stephanie, "offering even simple frequency options at the point of unsubscribe helps preserve up to 50% of those 'exiting' subscribers."

3. Feedback -- Ask unsubscribers to tell you why they're leaving. This will give you useful information to improve your program overall. Ask open-ended questions as well as closed. While closed questions are easier to quantify, they only yield the results you anticipate.

4. User Experience -- You're saying good-bye to a customer, but you can still make the parting positive and keep the door open. The opt-out option should be prominent and easy to exercise, particularly if you are offering other options, e.g., "Click to opt-out" and "Click to update your preferences and tailor messages to your needs." Say thank you for the time and space you were granted in your customer's inbox. Use language that is consistent with your brand/email voice. A good example from Daily Candy asks, "Are we breaking up? Want to leave us for good? If you don't mind us asking, why don't you love us anymore?"

To leverage your unsubscribes, learn from your customers and learn from your data. Good Luck!

The Email Diva

Send your questions or submit your email for critique to Melinda Krueger, the Email Diva, at All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.

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