B2B Email Marketing: Don’t make opting out so hard

unsubscribeMaking it easy for recipients of your marketing emails to opt out (or unsubscribe) may seem counterintuitive if you are focused on building your list, but it will actually result in more high quality leads. Making opt-out difficult by hiding the link at the bottom of emails, or not having email preferences accessible on your site, has repercussions.

You will increase spam report incidents.

More and more people are using web-based email clients these days, and if you’re a user yourself you already know how prominent the “Mark as Spam” type buttons are. It has become very quick and easy to select multiple messages from your inbox list and classify them all as Spam.  It seems logical that this button would both remove the messages from your inbox, and keep future ones out.  As an email marketer, you should also know that each time that happens to one of your sent messages, however, you are also being reported as a possible email spammer to the blacklisting folks.  That means your future messages could not only be blocked for that recipient, but many many more recipients, too.  Spam report incidents have far worse implications for your future email deliverability rates than unsubscribes.  So if a recipient is going to block your messages one way or another, you should have a STRONG preference that they unsubscribe from your list the proper way.  If it’s not dead easy to unsubscribe with one obvious click, they’re likely going to report you as spam instead.

You will blow your segmentation & measurement.

If you do any sort of data-driven segmentation of leads in your marketing database, you will generate inaccurate segmentation analysis and conclusions if you include leads who don’t want to hear from you.  You should be slicing and dicing prospects who are truly candidates for successful nurturing and sales efforts, not people that will never ever buy from you.  Keep in mind why people unsubscribe—they find you (at best) irrelevant, or (worse) annoying, or (even worse!) offensive.  No number of emails you could ever send will change their mind about that.  So focus on optimizing your marketing efforts for those who are actual targets.  Furthermore, measuring the success of your efforts will only be a true picture if you’re measuring the engagement and response rates of those actual target prospects. So those who don’t want to hear from you…encourage them to unsubscribe!

You won’t know what your prospects want.

If you set up your opt-in list options right, you can give your prospects the power to tell you who they are and what they need.  They will naturally subscribe to content that is relevant to their role, responsibilities, problems, and opportunities.  Conversely, they will unsubscribe from content that is irrelevant.  If you don’t give them the chance to speak with their preferences, you’ll never know what is relevant and what isn’t.  But if you know, you can start to tailor your content and your campaigns to sub-segments and sub-lists.  This is the best way to get into drip campaigns and triggers.  Give them choices of content themes that might be relevant to them, and then build a marketing stream for each.  Now you’re giving them what they want.

Bottom line: Make it easy to opt in and out everywhere, all the time.

  • Offer multiple theme-based list choices for opt-in, and allow prospects to edit their subscription preferences at any time.
  • Include prominent, obvious links to managing email preferences and 1-click unsubscribe at both the top AND bottom of your email templates
  • Make it easy to find your email preference center on your website, too. (this is ours if you want to see an example)
  • Offer your opt-in/opt-out choices as an optional field in other web forms and pages. (like I do below)

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