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The Opt Out: Hello and Goodbye Emails – Part 3

In parts 1 and 2 of our Hello/Goodbye series, we covered some practices around autoresponders and the appropriate communication frequency when a form is filled out. In today’s post, we’ll be wrapping up that series with some discussion on saying goodbye.

There’s an extremely frustrating trend in email marketing in which the goal is to make unsubscribing from an email as difficult as it possibly can be. The thought seems to be that if you aren’t putting your unsubscribe in dark blue on a dark gray background in 2 point font, you’re just giving away subscribers by letting them opt out so easily. What’s worse is those that deliberately try to make it impossible to opt out. I’ve seen unsubscribes hidden as the link in the comma of a signature, white text on a white background, and a completely unrelated word being linked in the tiny text at the bottom of an email – and it’s got to stop. While I’m not a lawyer and can’t give legal advice, you could be putting yourself in hot water with CAN-SPAM. As the manager of the compliance team, I can definitely tell you hiding the unsubscribe link is not allowed per our Permission Based Marketing Policy, so it’s just not a good idea to keep following this trend. On top of that, you’re running the significant risk of having people click to report spam on your email, which negatively affects your overall email sending reputation. People simply do not have the time to go play “Where’s Waldo?” with your email, and are more likely to click to report spam out of frustration than play that game. There’s a time and a place for Waldo, and that’s not in your email.

The Benefits of an ‘Opt Out

Letting someone opt out is a good thing. Yes, you read that correctly, there are significant benefits to making opting out as easy as possible. If I tell you I’m not interested in your email, great. You can stop wasting your time and effort on someone who has told you, point blank, that they do not want to hear from you. You can then focus your efforts on those prospects who care about your email and actively take an interest in what you are providing them. People are also significantly less likely to report spam if you make it easier for them to simply unsubscribe. Unsubscribing doesn’t affect your overall email reputation, so it’s always better to just let your prospects unsubscribe versus having them click spam and negatively impacting the sender reputation you’ve carefully built.

Making it Easy to Unsubscribe

It’s also particularly important to make sure the actual process of unsubscribing is a painless, simple experience. First, you’ll definitely want to test your unsubscribe link before you send out your emails by sending it as a normal list send, so you can be sure that link works as expected. If that link doesn’t work, I’m more likely to click to report spam and not deal with having to jump through hoops to opt myself out of your email. Speaking of jumping through hoops, don’t make your prospects watch a video, submit forms in triplicate, and provide a blood sample just to opt out of your email. Instead, once they click to unsubscribe, it should be two clicks at the absolute maximum to opt out of your email. It should be one click to tell you why they don’t want your email anymore, one click to hit the button to unsubscribe. Then, once you show them the unsubscribe confirmation page, that’s it. Don’t send them an email to confirm what has already…been confirmed by that page. It clutters my inbox and leaves me with a negative impression of your brand. I ask you to stop sending me email, so you send me one last email? Unless that email is littered with corgi gifs, I’m not interested in getting that confirmation email. Instead, make your confirmation a memorable experience, like Groupon’s famous, hilarious unsubscribe page. Their page turns a mundane unsubscribe page into something interesting and fun, and leaves me with a really good impression of their brand.

It’s most important to make your unsubscribe page easy to get to from your email and easy to navigate through, but if you can add a bit of fun to an otherwise boring process it’s even better! Ultimately, don’t be afraid to say goodbye to prospects that just aren’t that into you anymore. There are plenty of other prospects to focus your attention and effort on.

What’s the best (or worst!) unsubscribe page you’ve ever seen? Tweet to me @holobachgirl or comment below!

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