There has always been an inherent conflict between the interests of email marketers and their subscribers. Marketers expend much energy encouraging subscribers to register for their email programs with the – often unrealistic – belief that a subscriber’s initial consent indicates their request to receive email from the sender indefinitely. Subscribers, however, view their inbox as a very personal space; one reserved for messages that speak directly to their ever-changing interests. And when your content is no longer deemed relevant, subscribers have every right to unsubscribe from your program.
In an attempt to help consumers manage their ever-growing inboxes, companies have designed products to help users remove themselves from unwanted lists once and for all. Return Path subsidiary OtherInbox, for example, counts its Unsubscriber app among the most popular offered through its email apps store. Another app available through the OtherInbox.com app store is Unroll.me, the latest company to help subscribers no longer receive gray mail – email that subscribers once opted-in to receive but no longer want. Unroll.me helps users manage gray mail by offering an easy place to unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters. The free service can even compile a daily digest email – called a Rollup – to make viewing messages easier. The company has even created the Unroll.me Award, a tongue-in-cheek honor recognizing those brands that Unroll.me’s users most often unsubscribe from.
At first thought, it may seem disconcerting to highlight a service that makes getting off your list easy for consumers. But when a subscriber chooses to unsubscribe from your mailing list, this should be viewed as a win-win scenario for several reasons:
- The subscriber receives a cleaner inbox
- The subscriber is taking an action that has no negative impact from a mailbox provider and sender reputation perspective
- Your email program expends fewer resources by trying to reengage a decidedly uninterested audience
- It provides an opportunity to revisit your registration page and sign-up boxes to set clearer expectations
- It provides an opportunity to audit your welcome program to ensure subscribers fully understand the frequency and benefits of subscribing to your program
Instead of agonizing over the development of consumer-focused apps that help facilitate unsubscribes, a more productive approach is to study user engagement. Mailbox Providers have long-considered subscriber engagement an important factor of subscriber interest for senders. Leveraging subscriber activity data – including read, delete without reading, user-marked spam – can help reveal trends on which campaigns perform best or worst. Thinking strategically about how optimizing cadence, segmenting subscribers by age on file, and developing a re-engagement strategy targeting moderately lapsed users – to preempt the unsubscribe – can help drive meaningful results.
The key takeaways here are twofold: embrace consumer-focused unsubscribe tools like Unsubscriber and Unroll.me while focusing energy on improving subscriber engagement. Since your resources will always be limited, focus your efforts on factors within your control and that drive measurable results. For more ways to improve your unsubscribe experience, check out 18 Ways to Improve Your Unsubscribe Process and 12 Ways to Optimize the Unsubscribe Process. And read through Tips for Increasing Email Subscriber Engagement and Understanding Engagement for more ways to improve your engagement metrics.