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3 Ways Making it Difficult to Opt-Out Hurts Your Email Marketing

Jun 7, 2013   |   2 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

email marketing opt outLike it or not, list churn is part of the email marketing job. In general, those who unsubscribe or “opt-out” from your marketing emails are informing you that your program isn’t what they expected or wanted, or it’s no longer relevant to them. According to Silverpop’s 2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study, the average unsubscribe rate in the U.S. is 0.25 percent. Depending on the size of your list, this could be a handful or several thousands of people per year.

Most email marketing experts will tell you that opt-outs are bad. (Though there are those, such as D Bnonn Tennant, who are quick to point out removing unqualified prospects simultaneously improves the quality of good prospects.) But after all, each opt-out means you’re getting your message in front of one fewer potential customer. As a result, some email marketers make it as difficult as possible to unsubscribe from email lists.

Take this scenario from Marketo’s Ravali Ravula: “When I get unwanted and unsolicited emails from someone I don’t know, the first thing I do is look for the unsubscribe link. Yet, I’m still struggling with the fact that often when I’ve asked to be ‘unsubscribed,’ an email somehow manages to sneak through to my inbox. This is when I start to doubt myself, ‘wait a minute, I thought I unsubscribed last time, but maybe I didn’t?’ So, I continue to keep hitting the unsubscribe button, but somehow, ‘they’ [a restaurant, store, blog, etc.] don’t really seem to grasp the concept of unsubscribing.”

Making it difficult for your prospects to opt-out can be bad for your email marketing program in three very big ways:

    1. Subscribers could lash out against your company online – Take this blog from Adam Sutton that details how incredibly difficult it is to unsubscribe from Pinterest’s emails for an example. In the blog, Sutton comes right out and says he’s not complaining about Pinterest’s product; however, many subscribers with online clout won’t be so kind as to differentiate your email marketing from your company as a whole.
    2. Subscribers could ignore emails – On average, according to, email users receive 147 messages per day, deleting 71 without opening in just under five minutes. How much do you want to bet most if not all of those 71 messages are from marketers? If you make it difficult to unsubscribe from your emails, many users will continuously pass them into trash folders, ultimately hurting your open rates. Don’t let this happen because ISPs are now penalizing mailers with low engagement.
    3. Subscribers could mark your email as spam – Less passive subscribers will take action against your marketing messages by marking them as spam or junk. Complaints to Google, Yahoo! and other ISPs hurt your sender reputation and can eventually impact your delivery rates.

Email Deliverability: 21 Steps to Success” offers even more tips on how you can make your email marketing campaigns as successful as possible. Download it today!

photo credit: Sybren A. Stüvel

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