Wednesday, October 26, 2016

UNSUBSCRIBES - Anatomy of an Email Inbox - SOUR eMail Oct 26, 2016

The unsubscribe process is another one of those elements of email marketing that just makes me SOUR!  Too many marketers do not take into consideration my desire to leave them and the difficulty of doing so can sometimes be infuriating.

First, the law actually prescribes how unsubscribes should work.  Here's the exact wording:

"You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request."

While this allows for some latitude, it is clear that the actions I need to take should be limited and brief.

Some do this extremely well and even brand it via the "SafeUnsubscribe" that Constant Contact users experience.

Others bury it in very small type or with other options to make it harder for you to find.  While I get that they don't want you to leave, I would suggest they do a better job with what they send.  Then I wouldn't be tempted to want to quit receiving these emails.  I'm leaving these the way they were in my email to demonstrate how small they really are.

It also makes me SOUR when they make me go to a web page and then I have to re-enter my email address.  Hello!  I just came from an email you sent me and dynamic programming allows you to easily pass the email address to the page, or even better just say thank you for unsubscribing and be done with it.  You have already made me unhappy to the point of not wanting to hear from you.  Do you really think it helps to make it hard for me to say good bye?  What brand value does that drive?

So here's a summary of 10 of the emails in my inbox today and what is good and bad.

Anything in Stained Glass - seems that smaller companies using Constant Contact have it made as they benefit from the platforms method for unsubscribing.  The unsubscribe is just one click and the platform thereafter insures you don't receive emails without the sender even having to think about it, so kind of idiot-proof.  Congratulations to Constant Contact!

World Market - unsubscribe was buried in the footer and very small.  They did remember who I was so I didn't have to re-enter my email address, but they did make me check and uncheck preference boxes to keep getting some, all or none of what they had to send.  While this isn't necessarily bad, it should be part of a preference center and not combined with the simple act of unsubscribing.  Remember once I get to this step, I'm not happy - don't make it harder for me.

Eventful - they make me read to figure out where I even need to click to unsubscribe (the link is "click here" within a sentence that says "to unsubscribe from other deals...")  Once I click, they make me tell them again:  "are you sure you want to unsubscribe?"  Really?  I'm checking yes just because you made me even more SOUR.

Hampton Inn by Hilton - the unsubscribe link is one of several options.  Once I clicked, they gave me the option of what I was unsubscribing to - just these special offers or all of Hilton communications.  They also populated my email address for me - see I knew it could be done!  They also tell you how long it will take - good - by law, they have 10 days to discontinue sending you emails. - grouped with other options of "preferences" and "forward to a friend."  Once I clicked, I did have to reconfirm with a second click and they also gave me the option of changing my preferences with another link.

Hotwire - by the way, I love these guys and always use them for personal travel for hotels and cars.  Always get good deals where I want and I like getting to try hotels I might not otherwise find.  Staying at the Gwen in Chicago over Thanksgiving which I booked through them.  So, even though I won't unsubscribe, they again have the unsubscribe grouped with other options and are a bit busy once I click combining preference changes with the unsubscribe process.  They try to be a bit subtle and dray your eyes away from the "unsubscribe all" in an attempt to keep you on the list.

First America Home Warranty - I included this one here to make the distinction between transactional and promotional emails.  I received this email in response to a service request I placed for my home. Transactional emails do not require unsubscribe options and this one did not have one.  While some might include as a courtesy, it is not required via the CAN-SPAM law.

Younkers - the emailer I put at the top of my SOUR list.  They provide the unsubscribe option within a long list of choices, almost purposely to hide it from me. On the landing page, they bury the unsubscribe in a preference center, long form that asks if I want to change my frequency (actually good), change my email address (not sure why that is there) or select from a long list of content types that might be in my emails (also good, although I don't have any evidence that they are using this).  But most SOUR - I have actually unsubscribed from their emails many times over the past several MONTHS and they still keep sending me emails.  I did it again today, so after I scrolled down through all those choices and clicked to unsubscribe, they added insult to injury by asking me why.  I ask - if you were monitoring your database and had a good handle on your email statistics, wouldn't you know what was working or not?  Actually, I would really like to help these guys and even sent a LinkedIn message to their CMO.  Sorry you aren't listening! (Adobe) - I don't put many B2B email samples in my posts, and this is part of future conversations as in general I think B2B marketers do a better job at email marketing.  One click from the unsubscribe link at the bottom and I was done.  They told me who I was receiving the email from and once I clicked, I was done - no re-typing my email address, no questions, no preferences, just done.  Now I didn't really want to do that, so now I will go back in and resubscribe, but it should be really that simple.  The only improvement would be a link on the confirmation page to re-subscribe. 

CNN Breaking News - I'm surprised that an organization like CNN is doing such a poor job. Now, I like getting my breaking news emails, but the unsubscribe mechanism is just SOUR.  They actually don't include a link but only a long URL that I have to cut and paste into my browser.  When I do so, they make me type in my email address to unsubscribe.  All I can say is "wow." 


Today's Sample: 10 emails

Overall Grade: C
Top Performer:  Anything in Stained Glass (Constant Contact) and (Adobe) - Grade A

My rating is based on the unsubscribe process itself and the ease of unsubscribing.  If you are doing a great job of email marketing, making your messages relevant, timely and of interest, very few of your subscribers will want to go here.  If they do, then you should happily and easily let them go and look at your practices to see how you can improve.

Today's Tips to Improve Your Inbox Anatomy and not be a SOUR eMailer:

-  Make your unsubscribe as simple and easy as possible with only one click required.
-  Allow people to manage email preferences for type of content and frequency of emails, but keep that as a separate option in a preference center.  AND make sure if you ask for this that you use it to make their emails more personalized.
-  Don't bury the unsubscribe with other options and in long sentences.  However, do place "preferences" in close proximity so they can see that they can change if they don't want to be completely gone.
-  Make the word "unsubscribe" be the link, not "click here" and certainly not a URL.
-  Use a preference center to allow people to select what they want and when; make this part of the subscription process (future post topic).
-  Make sure you abide by the law and honor the unsubscribe request within 10 days.  There are financial implications of not doing so - you can be fined up to $16,000 for every infraction.
- Don't ask for reasons why they unsubscribe - use your data to figure that out.
- On the unsubscribe landing page, thank them, let them know how they can opt back in (with a link directly there) if they want and how long it will take for the changes to take effect.

Use these unsubscribe process tips to make sure you meet CAN-SPAM requirements and to manage a process that is required but undesirable.  Don't be a SOUR emailer and you will minimize these clicks.

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