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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ethical marketing means conforming to CAN-SPAM legislation. But legislation doesn't necessarily mean doom and gloom for the day to day marketing professional. In fact, more people are embracing the legislation and learning how to improve their overall effectiveness. In today's post I share information from an EmailLabs Inc. report, "Unsubscribing in 2007: Marketers Can Get More Out of Goodbye." This information is valuable and can help you improve the effectiveness of your email marketing.

Finding 1:
96% of marketers include an unsubscribe link in their promotional emails but fail to include it in other critical contact points including welcome emails, transactional and customer support messages or autoresponders.

What this means for you: Marketers are, for the most part, including unsubscribe instructions in all promotional emails. However, they're missing the opportunity to build customer trust and allow them to control their in boxes by adding the unsubscribe to other critical customer contact points.

Key to this is the welcome message, normally sent out as soon as the subscriber confirms the request. Why would you give your newest subscribers the option to jump off the wagon right away? Because people do sometimes subscribe by mistake. (You can alleviate this by not using pre checked boxes on your registration form.)

When you don't provide an unsubscribe method in that welcome email, you force recipients to receive more email from you. That increases the risk that they'll click the spam button, since they don't want to hear from you, and they may not trust you to honor the unsubscribe request.

Recommendation: Provide unsubscribe information in every email sent to subscribers or customers.

Finding 2: More than three-quarters of marketers use an easy unsubscribe method, such as a one-click unsubscribe link or reply to the email message, and another 25% let subscribers access a profile-update page without having to log in first.

Analysis: Easy unsubscribing is paramount here, because it will encourage more subscribers to use it rather than click a spam button or just ignore your messages. However, that also limits the options, both yours and your subscribers.

An unsubscribe isn't always about saying goodbye. Maybe the subscriber's needs or interests change, or he wants to update an address, or hear from you more or less often. This is where profile pages can help you reduce unsubscribes and give users a more valuable experience.

Recommendation: Use a two-step process. Click One takes the user to a profile page that loads with their data populated in all the fields. Click Two confirms the removal request or changes in the profile. Also, provide other opportunities to request removal, including contact information for a Web form or customer-support contacts if the profile page doesn't work.

Finding 3: Over half of marketers acknowledge the unsubscribe on the landing page, while less than a third send an email confirmation.

Analysis: Acknowledging the unsubscribe helps to build trust in your email program because it tells the subscriber immediately that the request was successful. It also gives you an opportunity to maintain a relationship with that subscriber, because you can offer other ways to get information, such as changing frequency, format or content. Even if the subscriber does intend to leave your program, a graceful goodbye, with thanks for their previous patronage, can strengthen that relationship.

Recommendation: Acknowledge the unsubscribe immediately in the same medium that was used to request removal: confirm on the landing page when the request comes via clicking a link, and email the confirmation when the user uses an auto-reply unsubscribe or sends in a personal request.

Finding 4: Fewer than 20% of marketers use the unsubscribe confirmation to remind subscribers about other communication options or seek valuable exit information.

Analysis: Along the same lines as Finding 3, marketers are not using the unsubscribe to offer recipients other options for receiving information or explaining why they unsubscribed.

The unsubscribe doesn't have to be a final farewell, but marketers too often treat it that way, given the nearly half who use the message format merely to confirm the unsubscribe. Less than 20% include any kind of goodbye message, and fewer than 1 in 10 includes any kind of outreach, including a customer-service phone number, an incentive to resubscribe or update a profile, offer an exit survey.

Recommendation: Always acknowledge the unsubscribe with a personal message thanking the subscriber for his patronage, offering other options for receiving message and an opportunity to explain the request and providing contact information including phone numbers and links to your Web site.

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