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How to avoid unsubscribes without falling foul of the law

By Stuart McLaren on Thu 23 August 2012 in Email Marketing

Some top tips on how to steer clear of unsubscribes...

Why bother with an unsubscribe option?

Many people feel including an unsubscribe option on their emails is a waste of time. A common perception is that unsubscribes encourage your audience to opt out of your emails and therefore reduces the success of your campaign. However, it is now a legal requirement to include an unsubscribe option in your email, so whatever your opinion you don’t really have a choice, and believe it or not, making it easy for someone to unsubscribe is a good thing.

This article will look into the benefits of managing unsubscribes and how to get just the right balance between avoiding but still offering unsubscribes whilst getting your message across.

How to avoid unsubscribes?

Unfortunately if someone wants to unsubscribe from your emails they will, but there are ways of avoiding this in the first place:

Targeting your list is the basic rule of email marketing. If your recipient is receiving relevant information to them that they want to hear about, whether this is based on previous purchases, gender, interests or subscriptions they are likely to read and action your email in the right way. As I am sure you know there’s nothing more annoying than getting an email that is totally irrelevant to you. To put this into context I received an email last week congratulating me on my pregnancy. In case you weren’t aware, I’m a male!

We keep referring back to the importance of your layout and spam score, but that’s because it is important. Paying attention to this significantly reduces your chances of recipients unsubscribing. Our layout and spam articles are still available if you want to refresh your memory.

Are unsubscribes actually a good thing?

Although none of us want to receive a high number of unsubscribes they can actually really help when defining your marketing campaign lists.

If you haven’t done email marketing for a long time it is common to get a high percentage of unsubscribes; your recipients haven’t heard from you in a while, they might have forgotten who you are or simply aren’t interested anymore.

Whilst this can be disheartening there are some positive sides. Unsubscribes allow you to refine and cleanse your marketing list, leaving you with a higher quality list of higher quality prospects. Let’s be honest a recipient trying to get away is probably not going to be a good sales prospect.

Making the most of your unsubscribes

We’ve established that some people will unsubscribe no matter how much you persuade them not to. However once they’ve clicked on the link you do have one final chance to change their mind. Take a look at Groupon’s novel approach to stop you unsubscribing from their emails.

In my opinion the best way of avoiding unsubscribes is by introducing a preference centre. This allows you to categorise your marketing, for example you might have product, events and best practice emails being sent to the same audience. By introducing a preference centre you can give your recipients the choice to opt in to what they want to receive emails about and opt out of everything else. Ultimately you are finding out exactly what your recipients are interested in which will also lead to even more advanced targeting and a better recipient experience. Plus you’re not losing them altogether.

Don’t forget it’s better for your recipient to leave happy rather than angry. By making unsubscribing easy you don’t completely ruin the customer experience or cause more frustration. On top of this a good and easy to use unsubscribe helps you to get through spam filters. Putting some effort in here really isn’t a waste of your time.