Opinions, best practices and research into B2B marketing strategy and practices

Five ways clear ‘opt-outs’ encourage subscribers to opt-in

Red exit sign giving users the option to opt-out

Many companies are still reeling from the tightened requirements for subscriber consent in marketing. The turbulence that accompanied the full implementation of GDPR has prompted some less-than-ethical marketers to devise creative ways to prevent users from opting out or unsubscribing. The assumption being that un-willing subscribers are better than reduced list sizes.

But making it simple to leave is part of the equation for convincing people to stay.

Why bother?

Maybe your re-permissioning emails as part of GDPR compliance are still a work in progress. Perhaps you’re ready to re-build your email lists and attract interested subscribers. Or maybe you’re part of a new breed of marketers who are proactively asking customers who haven’t been active for a while if they actually want to hear from you.

Whatever the rationale for asking people to opt-in to your communications, you want to make sure that you’re getting the right message to the right audience – and ensure that only customers who want to stay in touch get your marketing messages.

Here’s why it’s advantageous to include a clear way to opt out or unsubscribe:

1.    Make your customer-focus clear

Companies that make it easy to unsubscribe or opt out of their mailings demonstrate transparency and respect for users. By indicating that you don’t want to make it difficult to stop receiving communications, you show that you value your customers’ desires – and customer centricity is key to better business performance.

2.    Show you’re worthy

Including an easy way to opt out or unsubscribe builds credibility with users. It reassures them that your company uses personal data appropriately – and is worthy of being entrusted with their own personal information.

3.    Keep the good vibes going

Any reader who opens a message from you has already demonstrated that they’re not hostile to your communications – otherwise that message would have been deleted, ignored or, even worse, marked as spam. Keep that likeability intact by behaving nicely.

4.    Avoid the spam sandwich

Having an easy unsubscribe or opt-out makes it less likely that recipients will mark your messages as spam. Garner enough clicks on ‘This message is spam’ and your email domain will be blocked by spam filters, lowering the likelihood that interested parties will actually receive your emails.

5.    Use opt-out to say ‘hello’

The landing page you send people to when they opt out is a great way to engage. Provide ways to re-join the conversation, perhaps pointing them to another of your other lists that may be more relevant or offering to deliver more targeting messaging. Giving users the option to change the frequency of messages is another common retention method. At the very least, give departing subscribers a fond farewell and direct them to your social media channels.

Opting out doesn’t have to mean saying good-bye

Instead of seeing an opt-out or unsubscribe as the end of a customer relationship, consider it a way to get to know your audience better and ensure you have clean subscription lists populated by people who are really interested in hearing from you.

There’s some evidence that companies who clearly offer opt-out and/or unsubscribe links actually retain more subscribers – now that’s a strong case for giving opt-out options right alongside any opt-in messaging!

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Laura Matheson

I like to wear many hats (although not literally because of the resulting squished hair) and delight in knowing a little bit about a lot of things. I’ve always been a writer and a reader, which led me to complete a Master of Library and Information Studies degree – although that turned out to be more about information technology than actual books. This achievement furthered my desire to organize everything and to wield my IT knowledge to help people connect with information and each other. As part of cylindr BBN, I write and strategize about B2B marketing and branding, including digging into GDPR and user privacy, flexing my SEO muscles and wrapping my head around the nuances of Danish to English translation. Outside of the 9-5, I teach yoga (mostly the relaxing, lazy kind) and hang out with my dog a lot.