Rethinking Email Opt-Out Management Best Practices: It's Not About 'Can,' It's About 'Should'
We've all done it. One click and you're unsubscribed from the vendor that's been sending you all that unnecessary content. At this point, it has almost become part of your morning ritual, right along side your cup of coffee. Meanwhile, marketers have long had the mindset that more emails has to mean more responses, which has to mean more revenue for the company—right? Unfortunately not. For the longest time, marketers have mistakenly regarded email marketing as "free." Now, strategic marketers are finally waking up to the consequences of getting it wrong.
As we peel the onion back, we can see that opt-out has become more than simply a "compliance" issue, as it's commonly thought of. In fact, it has become a dramatic factor in organizations' ability to drive revenue—when a customer opts out it, in essence, silences your ability to proactively influence customer value through the affected channels.
Speaking recently with a banking CMO on this topic, he fumed, "What really gets me upset about opt-out is that I can't talk to them, but all my competitors CAN!" In essence, many brands are inadvertently holding the exit door for their customers when it comes to direct marketing campaigns.
We need to challenge the way we think about campaign success.
Think of your last marketing campaign and the opt-out that resulted. What was your opt-out rate when compared to your response and conversion rate? What about those who have flagged your email as junk and have in essence opted out, but not told you? If you consider the lost lifetime value of those who opted out, has your campaign made money, or has it lost money?
Note, also, that opt-out's effect is cumulative. All too often, campaign managers view their campaigns as one-time events. In reality, each campaign continues an iterative conversation between a brand and its customers, and the impact of one campaign's opt-out is directly felt by the next campaign and every one that follows. Combine this with other issues—such as missing or inaccurate data—and the result is a significant "unreachable" segment. To illustrate the impact this can have on your ability to generate revenue, we have seen this unreachable segment can be as "little" as 15 percent, to as much as 65 percent of an organization's customer base.