Why you should love opt-outs as email marketers

Why you should love opt-outs as email marketers

Obviously. Not a single email marketer likes it when people opt out of his emails. Still, hiding the unsubscribe link is a bad idea. Because it annoys customers, and after a while might even do damage to your emaildeliverability. So, think beyond the short term and make your unsubscribe link visible. What is more, those who proactively offer their recipients the option to adjust the email frequency in a smarter way, can only gain extra benefit from this.

The option to unsubscribe in bulk emails is required by law, and violating this rule may result in hefty fines. Most email marketers include an unsubscribe link in their emails therefore, but some of them are looking for the limits of what is allowed by hiding the opt-out as inconspicuously as possible in the email footer.

Low open rates

That’s not very clever. First of all, you might wonder what the point is of continuing to bother someone with emails they do not wish to receive. And contrary to what some email marketers seem to think, the approach of “it doesn’t hurt to try” does not apply here. Hiding the unsubscribe link does damage to your reputation. With the annoyed receiver, but equally with the email provider that decides whether your emails end up in the inbox or the spam box.

At best, sending emails to people who are not interested results in them not opening them and deleting them unread. To some extent that is not a problem, but if this happens too often it will harm your email reputation. After all, to an email provider a low open rate is a sign that apparently your emails are not sent to a relevant audience.

Spam complaints

There is an even bigger chance that recipients who cannot find the unsubscribe button in your email, simply click on the spam button or use the block button Gmail recently introduced. And it will not come as a surprise that too many of this type of spam complaints and block requests do not contribute to a good email reputation.

So, the bad news is that hiding the opt-out option is not a good idea. The good news, however, is that proactively offering the option to change the email frequency may help to significantly improve your email performance. A more relevant audience means higher open rates and click-through rates. And where low activity damages your email reputation, increased activity on the other hand actually contributes to a good reputation.

Four tips to help you with this:

1. Allow people to manage their email settings

Proactively offering people to adjust the email frequency obviously does not mean that you should encourage them to opt out. For example, you can include a link to a landing page where they can manage their email settings. So, apart from an opt-out they can also specify that they no longer wish to receive certain messages. Or less frequently.

2. Sign up for feedback loops

Many email providers, including Hotmail/Outlook and Gmail, offer senders of bulk mailings the option to use a feedback loop, which notifies you when someone marks your email as spam. This may not prevent someone from clicking on the spam button, but it does give you the option to process spam complaints as opt-out and show email providers that you are properly maintaining your mailing list.

If you use good email marketing software, it is very likely anyway that this supplier has already set up the feedback loops for you. So, always check this with your ESP in advance to avoid doing unnecessary work.

3. Make use of list unsubscribe headers

In addition to feedback loops, many ISPs offer the option to include a list unsubscribe header above your emails. Recipients can use this header to unsubscribe from your messages through the interface of their email client, exactly the way it would normally be done using an unsubscribe link in an email. Because this button appears practically next to the spam button, you considerably reduce the risk of spam complaints with a list unsubscribe header. Make use of it.

4. Monitor for inactivity

Despite all your preparations, it can still happen that recipients do not bother to unsubscribe from your emails. Or that you send messages to an account that is no longer opened. Since these inactive recipients do not benefit your email reputation, it is a good idea to proactively monitor your email statistics  for inactivity.

Have you noticed that someone has not opened your emails for a while? Then send an email: would you still like to receive our emails? But you can also take action if someone opens your emails less frequently. For example, by suggesting to someone who only opens the daily newsletter on Friday, to send them emails on that day only.

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Monique van Voskuilen
Monique van Voskuilen