Since we’re on the topic of frequently asked acquisition email questions, here’s another: Is my unsubscribe rate an acceptable one?
There’s a short answer and a long answer to that question.
Short Answer: Done right, acquisition email should have an unsubscribe rate on par with retention email. You read that correctly. At ividence, the unsubscribe rate for campaigns we send is currently sitting below 0.1%.
Long answer: List owners have long been conditioned to fear unsubscribes, whether because of concern about email list growth goals, customer attrition, or effect on conversion rates. That’s understandable.
Nevertheless, that fear speaks to a potential misunderstanding of the reasons people unsubscribe and their potential alternatives. ExactTarget has an appropriately holiday-themed report out with information on those exact topics: The Social Media Break-Up.
Why do people unsubscribe? And what can you do about it?
While the ExactTarget report includes a number of responses, the top reasons break down into two basic categories:
As long as you follow best practices for both acquisition and retention emailing, you don’t need to fear unsubscribes. Enabling people to leave the list easily will result in a list of subscribers who want to receive your emails.
What other ways can subscribers disengage from email and why don’t I want them to?
While ExactTarget found that most people click unsubscribe when they are no longer interested in receiving a company’s emails, some respond in ways that are more damaging to your email program.
It’s important to monitor unsubscribe and spam complaint rates to ensure that your list remains as healthy and happy as possible, but unsubscribes are not bad things in and of themselves because they leave you with an email list that is interested in receiving your emails. If you have questions about how best to monitor and respond to these rates or how ividence does this, we’re happy to speak with you. Please contact us.
One last point, perhaps the most important one … a very bad practice in acquisition email is to respect the law (CAN-SPAM) but only the law… not the end-user.
The law requires that an advertiser unsubscribe link and postal address appear in each email. Because the law (in the USA) does not enforce an unsubscribe link from the publisher (the one who collected the email and that sends the advertisement email) too many publishers don’t include their name because they fear the unsubscribe rate they will get. However, to maintain a strong list and to get the most out of an acquisition campaign, publishers and advertisers should keep these guidelines in mind:
Publishers: Don’t fool end-users. Everyone hates a phone call from someone who isn’t upfront about who they are, right? You know it’s a sales rep trying to sell you something, and you won’t take the call. Remind your end-users of your publisher name and the fact that they agreed to receive email, and offer them an easy-to-use unsubscribe link (from the list, in addition to the advertiser unsubscribe link).
Yes, you will get a higher unsubscribe rate for your first acquisition campaigns, but the remaining subscribers will open and click (for both your campaigns and third-party emails). And your sender reputation will be much higher. In the end, it creates a greater long-term and recurring revenue.
Advertisers: If you are proud of your brand (and of course you are!) check that all the publisher lists that you send acquisition email to respect this best practice. If not, your brand will be associated with poor behavior, and you will get unsubscribes. Not just people who no longer want your advertisement, but the ones that don’t want to be part of the publisher’s list, too. And your sender reputation for your newsletter will also be impacted!
What have you found to be the best ways to maintain a healthy unsubscribe rate? And what have your challenges been in achieving that?
Kevin Deseuste joined the ividence team at the beginning of 2011 and directs the implementation and evaluation of advertiser campaigns and publisher lists for the U.S. market. He brings to the team an expertise in monitoring and enhancing deliverability and response rates from both the publisher and advertiser perspective. Prior to joining ividence, Kevin worked in Business Development at technology solutions provider SCC.
He can be reached at email@example.com.