Inbox Insider: Marketers need to work on the unsubscribe process

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"Unsubscribe" is a touchy word in e-mail marketing. No marketer really wants to lose subscribers, but then again, most marketers don't want to have uninterested people on their list. And, since the CAN-SPAM update this year has ruled that the unsubscribe process must be easier for consumers, cutting the process down to a one-stop process, not everyone has gotten with it.

In fact, 20% of brand marketers sent additional e-mails to subscribers after confirming an unsubscribe request, according to a new Return Path study, Keeping the Subscriber Experience Positive After ‘Unsubscribe Me,' which looked at the unsubscribe practices of 45 companies from the retail, consumer goods, travel and media/entertainment industries. In addition, the study found that11% of the companies studied e-mailed subscribers more than 10 days after confirming an unsubscribe request, which is a direct a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act.

This is not a smart move. Marketers are risking the impact that this kind of behavior can have on their overall e-mail reputation. Spam complaints do not lead to good reputations.

While it is hard to see someone go, sometimes an unsubscribe is just looking for a different option. Maybe they are being mailed twice a week and they only want to be mailed twice a month. A good way for marketers to embrace the unsubscribe and keep up a good reputation and not lose a customer is to offer different options on the unsubscribe page — maybe a "mail me less often" box next to the unsubscribe box to make it easier for consumers to define their contact with the brand.

Consumers today demand this kind of control. The more options you give them, the more likely they may be to stick with you. That is why it is disheartening to hear that only 11% of companies allowed subscribers to change their e-mail address on the unsubscribe landing page. When e-mail change of address is not included as part of the unsubscribe process, consumers are forced to unsubscribe from one address and resubscribe with a new e-mail address. And everyone knows that making it more complicated is less attractive.

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