A Parting Shot: What to Say to Unsubscribers
Assuming you're following all the rules, each of your emails includes a path to unsubscribe. But that's not the end of the story, is it?
This morning, I went through my inbox and started unsubscribing from all the publications I've accumulated but no longer read. In the process, I considered all the different approaches and thought it might be good fodder for a discussion.
The first unsubscribe link I found was from Cornerstone OnDemand. It was cold, made no effort to engage me, and had no branding. Though I had clicked a link in their email, when I got to the unsubscribe page, I had no idea from what—or whom—I had just unsubscribed (see the first image in the media player).
Target Marketing Magazine took into consideration my short-term memory loss and welcomed me with a branded confirmation page. Short, sweet, and simple, but missing the marketing of their other products or benefits to staying on the list (see the second image in the media player).
Digg was a similar experience. While their logo is present, they listed the emails address of the subscriber, and the process was easy, they included a link to unsubscribe from all of their publications at once—the dreaded nuclear option (see the third image in the media player).
After clicking the unsubscribe button, I was presented with a confirmation of my request (see the fourth image in the media player).
Webriti added something that was missing from both Target Marketing Magazine and Digg—the ability to easily resubscribe. And, even though Target Marketing did provide a link for me to manage my subscriptions, it wasn't as simple as a single button. Clicking the link would take me to their site, where I might actually have to think about my actions, and since I was in a hurry I didn't do that (see the fifth image in the media player).
EMS Inc., used Constant Contact—as do many other small companies—and I like how well thought out the process is from this vendor. First, they provided me a clue as to which email address I've used, without actually displaying it, and then ask me to confirm. The instructions were clear, and the process provided just a little security in case someone else would try to unsubscribe me (see the sixth image in the media player).
The second step of the process was to present me with a confirmation that included an opportunity to type a reason for unsubscribing. I would have preferred a drop-down list or checkboxes at this point, because I am admittedly lazy. I was on a mission to unsubscribe, and their requirement for me to write an essay is just too burdensome. If they had made this step easier, I would have provided a reason. I don't know the abandonment rate to be expected at this point, but whatever it is, I'm certain it's higher than if they had given me options from which to choose (see the seventh image in the media player).
The final step of Constant Contact's approach is a nice touch: the ability to change my mind and resubscribe. Also, in case my reason for unsubscribing is that I had signed up with a less-preferred contact address, a reminder of what that was (see the eighth image in the media player).
Google+ had a similar approach, but with both Constant Contact and Google, I was bothered by the lack of corporate branding within the dialogue, or enticements to stick around. Google+ did provide information about which list I was leaving and a link to manage, rather than leave altogether (see the tenth image in the media player).
The confirmation screen looked so much like the unsubscribe page that I wasn't sure it was successful—if it weren't for the word success in tiny print, I wouldn't have known it hadn't gone through (see the eleventh image in the media player).
I clicked the link to manage my settings settings, and that's when the page got more interesting. Finally, Google engaged me me with a conversation about just what it is I want. Just because the unsubscribe process has to be completed in a single click doesn't mean you shouldn't promote yourself in the process (see the twelfth image in the media player).
Like Google, LinkedIn listed my current subscriptions and enabled me to make changes to all or some on a single page. If you have lots of lists, this presents not just the opportunity for your subscribers to leave, but to learn of others they might wish to join (see the thirteenth image in the media player).
Every company—except for MosaicHub—provided a link in the email titled "unsubscribe," which I appreciated. Our recipients are not stupid, so intentionally mislabeling the unsubscribe link is not going to reduce unsubscribes; it's going to irritate them in the process.
Focus on showing your subscribers why leaving the list is not beneficial, not alienating them to the point they never come back (see the fourteenth image in the media player).
After I got over being irritated, I found that the page was actually an opportunity to manage the settings, rather than just bail, but it didn't stop me from leaving. I had already made up my mind, and was irritated to the point where I couldn't be stopped.
If you want to provide a manage link, it can be a good idea, but not to the point where you can leave out an unsubscribe link (see the fifteenth image in the media player).
Worse still are manage links that require me to log in to an account I've forgotten—or never created in the first place—like this one from Plaxo. This had to be the single most frustrating unsubscribe experience I've ever encountered. I didn't remember my log in, so I clicked to recover the password. I went to the site, typed in the password, and it failed. I've spent more than an hour trying to unsubscribe from just one list—and I was clearly unsuccessful given this effort was from a link in an email I received today (see the sixteenth image in the media player).
So those are things not done well, but in this page from Lynda.com, however, there are many things done right. They've reminded me of the address I used, provided an opportunity to reactivate my paid account, made promises of privacy, and allowed me to unsubscribe from select or all lists. Nice job (see the seventeenth image in the media player)!
I'd like to say that my own unsubscribe process is as great as this one, but sadly, it is not—we are the cobbler's children. How does yours measure up?
Email marketing is the most effective way to increase sales, improve service, and keep your customers engaged. Email campaigns are best bolstered through an integrated strategy that crosses channels and meets your constituents where they congregate and in the media they prefer. “The Integrated Email” provides best practices and ideas for developing strategies and deploying email campaigns and initiatives while keeping an eye on revenue attributable to marketing.
Cyndie Shaffstall, founder, Spider Trainers, is a successful entrepreneur and prolific author, with many books, dozens of eBooks, and hundreds of articles to her credit. She is the former founder of ThePowerXChange, editor and publisher of X-Ray Magazine, and the current founder and managing member of Spider Trainers, a managed automated email services provider for companies around the world. Connect with Cyndie on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, or join her LinkedIn Group, the Marketing Resource Library for daily links to marketing-critical resources.