Hi & Goodbye: The Two Most Valuable Components of Your Email Program (Part 2)

Posted by Don Darlington on

As we discussed yesterday, first impressions are incredibly important in both personal and professional settings. For your brand, a well-executed welcome email is a great way to make a good first impression with new subscribers.

On the other end of the customer relationship—the goodbye—there’s another well-known expression to keep in mind: Don’t burn your bridges. Unsubscribes will happen, and will continue to happen. Whatever the reason, some customers will decide that they no longer want to receive your email… which is fine, and a decision that needs to be honored.  Despite the time, energy, and costs to retain subscribers, the important thing is to take a smart business approach when someone elects to opt out.

“Goodbye”: A thought-out opt-out
You probably give a lot of thought to welcoming and onboarding your new customers, but the opt-out experience is just as important. There’s always a chance the departing customer could give your brand another try down the road, so a graceful goodbye can mean the difference between a permanent split and just “taking a break.”

  • Always give them the option. A common misconception among marketers is that if the unsubscribe button is hard to find, no one will see it, and therefore no one will click it. This is just not true. If customers want out, they will find the unsubscribe button no matter where it is. I’m not suggesting you wave a banner across your email encouraging opt-outs, but it is important to let subscribers know they’re under no obligation to continue receiving your emails. By simply including the unsubscribe button at the top of your email as well as the bottom, you further diminish any cause for complaints. It’s a simple tactic that will leave a lasting impression—which is what you are subtly trying to accomplish. Leave the door open and let your subscribers know they can always leave just as they came in.
  • Opt-down. Unsubscribe doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all. When a customer clicks the unsubscribe button, there’s nothing wrong with giving them additional options. Try suggesting they reduce the frequency of emails, effectively “opting them down.” (As we mentioned yesterday, you can even reference these frequency options in your welcome email). Maybe getting four or five emails per week is just too much, but one or two would still be welcome. There’s no need to beg, but you can certainly try to remain friends rather than breaking up entirely. This last effort attempt puts the customer in control and allows them to manage their preferences as they see fit.
  • Respect the opt-out. If someone clicks the unsubscribe link and chooses not to opt down, he or she clearly wants to be removed from your subscriber list—and that’s exactly what you should do. Respect their wishes, remove them from your list, and confirm they will no longer receive emails from you. Even if acquiring addresses came at a cost, keeping uninterested or unengaged users on your subscriber list will ultimately damage your list quality. Email addresses may turn into spam traps, users will inevitably start complaining, and your IP reputation could eventually be put at risk. There are plenty of ways to attract new subscribers—don’t hang on too tightly to the ones who want to leave.

The welcome email and opt-out process may seem like very minute details in the grand scheme of your email program, but they are two elements that get overlooked far too often. Marketers often think of the welcome email as just another box on their email strategy checklist, while the opt-out process is treated like nothing more than a legal requirement.

With a slight shift of mentality and a little extra effort, welcome emails and opt-outs can be some of the most valuable assets in your email toolbox. Don’t underestimate the influence they have on your subscribers.


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About Don Darlington

Don is a Technical Account Manager at Return Path, bringing with him an abundance of knowledge and experience on everything email marketing. He is passionate about identifying issues harmful to email programs, and working alongside his clients to resolve these problems and implement strategies to ensure optimal delivery and performance. Outside of work, Don enjoys movies, reading, writing, and any outdoor sports/activities. Connect with him on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/darlingtondon

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