Manage your opt-outs for clean lists
These days, mailing “clean” – that is, ensuring that data, such as opt-outs, are up to date – is essential. Four experts share tips on how to keep your lists as spic-and-span as possible.
VP of IT and interactive services, MeritDirect
For opt-out management in the Web 2.0 world, your best option is a hosted opt-out solution (HOOS). A HOOS is a centralized data repository that can collect unsubscribe activity across an entire organization.
This provides your organization with a simple way to ensure that you provide a compliant, easy-to-execute mechanism for immediate removal from your list.
A HOOS makes it easy for you to manage opt-out activity, both internally and externally. By providing access to service bureaus and other partners, you eliminate the collection effort, as well as the data-exposure risk inherent in more traditional approaches.
Furthermore, the cost of a HOOS is easily justified with a quick review of the effort and risk associated with today's approaches to opt-out management and suppression.
A typical HOOS will have two cost components: a one-time set-up fee, and a monthly hosting fee. It will usually pay for itself in less than six months.
A HOOS can also help minimize risk. Blacklisting and DNS blocking are debilitating to an organization. A HOOS will go a long way toward mitigating much of the risk associated with non-compliance, by offering your audience an easy and immediate way to unsubscribe.
Coordinating all marketing activity across an organization is a real challenge, with multiple departments, disparate offices and various projects all needing to share the same information in real time. A HOOS can help solve this problem, as each department in your organization will benefit from an accessible and complete solution that is just a few mouse clicks away.
When you are ready to implement a HOOS for your organization, be sure that you work with an experienced and reputable service provider that can deliver secure and scalable solutions with multiple levels of user access.
Consider a hosted opt-out solution to collect unsubscribes
VP of sales and marketing, Media Source Solutions
Do-not-mail legislation keeps rearing its ugly head, and has thus far successfully been defeated. Yet, the reality of a do-not-mail list may not be far away if we do not take measures now to police ourselves.
One way is to make sure we are mailing cleanly. With so many data hygiene products available, it just doesn't make sense not to use them. Nothing is more irritating to a consumer than receiving two or more copies of the same catalog; nor is it cost effective for the mailer. More than ever, with growing pressure on direct mailers to be “green,” now is the time to mail “clean” — in order to stay on the good side of consumers.
New CAN-SPAM opt-out regulations recently took effect and e-mail marketers are now required to provide a one-step opt-out solution. In today's fast-paced e-marketing environment, it can be a challenge to create suppression files and make sure e-mail names have been removed from promotion files.
Being responsive to consumer preferences while also staying in compliance with the opt-out time frame allowed by CAN-SPAM is a balancing act that savvy list managers execute carefully. If you can get the e-mail message delivered, you should have the technology at your fingertips to comply with the opt-out request.
The key is to create a database environment to route incoming requests to a do-not-promote suppression file for future use, and delete the name from the existing database. You don't want to risk being reported to the various reporting agencies that could blacklist you.
With clean lists, you not only comply with legal regulations but, more importantly, you are complying with your subscribers' wishes.
Clean lists help comply with regulations and improve customer service
As with any new industry, the early days of e-mail marketing were filled with both success and failure. Some organizations quickly found a new stream of revenue, while others found themselves struggling to get out of the black hole known as the spam filter.
To avoid being relegated to the spam filter for all time, you must manage your opt-outs and have a good understanding of the ethics requirements. Do you really know what it means to be CAN-SPAM compliant?
Make sure you are giving your customers the chance to opt out. Your message should include a working return e-mail address, and the “from” line should accurately and clearly reflect the sender of the e-mail.
If you are doing an e-mail append, ask your vendor if they use the DMA do not e-mail list. If you work with a vendor that has an aggressive suppression file, which takes out those who hit the spam button or complained on e-mail appends for other clients, you may get down to your best customers.
Consider running monthly or quarterly e-mail append updates to your file — the average CPO will be stabilized and will result in cost savings over time. The key is to continuously update e-mail addresses for your most recently acquired customers.
Today, most reputable e-mail append vendors send welcome e-mails on your behalf – on their own servers – and only return the valid e-mail addresses that did not opt-out of e-mail communication. If anyone offers to slap some e-mail addresses onto your file and then hand them back to you, run like the wind. A welcome message protects your server score with the ISPs and ensures that you only add valid permission-based e-mail addresses to your file.
Manage opt-outs with a strong understanding of the ethics requirements
Director of business development, NextMark
Are you embracing customers and prospects who are looking to opt out? The DMA has taken a proactive stance on consumer choice with its Privacy Promise, which involves the commitment of all of its members to provide customers with opt-out information and to honor their requests.
If your Web site is already search-engine optimized, you can add a unique privacy page containing keywords that will make it easier for consumers to opt out.
First, do some research on your competitors' sites to understand how they support their customers online with tools for opting out.
Once these “opt-outers” find you, there will be an opportunity to learn more about their interests, attitudes and desires.
What's most important is that you allow “opt-outers” to make their choices and gain permission to use that information in a manner that will improve the relevance of offers they receive. If you believe in making it difficult to opt out — think again.
Making it difficult for consumers to opt out will only hurt you in the long run