Email Marketing Opt-Out: A Not-So-Good Example
As providers of email marketing services, one of the things we do is provide guidance to clients and colleagues on best practices. Sometimes, the best way to talk about the right way is to look at examples of, well, the wrong way to do email marketing.
One of the touchier areas of discussion is permission. An email marketer will ask you “Opt-in or opt-out?” before they ask for your last name (but possibly not before they ask for your Twitter handle). Sometimes you get extra options like “double opt-in” or funny answers involving words like “implicit permission,” but be assured, you will be asked.
So in light of learning from an example of what not to do in email marketing, this week, I received a business-to-consumer email from an automotive center that was nice enough to add me to their list for promotions and information… automatically. Take a look.
Design aside – as in there isn’t any – this email has a few areas for improvement. First, the From Address didn’t even need to be blurred out… I have no clue who this is by looking at the email address. That probably wasn’t great for their open rate. Plus, if you look to the bottom, they tell me not to reply to that address. Well, that’s not very friendly of them. What if I have “thoughts”? What about my input and opinions?
Speaking of which, the reason this campaign fails for me is right in the center of the email: “To start receiving our emails, you don’t need to do anything.” They’ve auto-opted me in! How nice of them, right? Except that this particular automotive center is way outside my neighborhood and I’m 95% sure I won’t ever go back, simply because they’re too far away. If they’d asked me to opt-in – or even checked my zip code – I could have saved them an email.
We all know email is not free. By sending this email to me, they’re inherently lowering the return on investment for their campaign.
Think of it this way: if 100 people come into your store and 50 of them will never come back, no matter what your offer is, why wouldn’t you limit your marketing to those other 50 and see a bigger margin of return on your campaign? One of the benefits of email marketing is that you can send offers and information to your subscribers that they want. If they will never come back, then promising them offers won’t motivate them to sign up for your email list in the first place. You can filter out those who aren’t interested before you even start and only send email to those that might someday take advantage of your 20% discount offer. All part of why email used correctly has the highest ROI of any medium.
Now, let’s look at the positives. It’s signed from the store manager, which makes the email feel personal: From Me, To You. It also lists the benefits of the email marketing newsletter – not just the features, but the actual benefit to the potential subscriber. This is an overlooked best practice. You have to give people a good reason to subscribe.
My suggestion would have been to offer me those benefits on a POP (point-of-purchase) display while I sat in the waiting room for twenty full minutes during my oil change. If I wanted all those cool features, I would have chosen to opt-in to the email list myself. Or ask me at the counter when I check out if I’d like to sign up, and give me the reasons it would benefit me. But the key is, ask me. I will come to you if I want to hear from you.
Takeaway: There’s no one answer, but best practice for many email marketers still encourages an opt-in method of email address collection. The reasoning ranges from improved deliverability to common courtesy, but the bottom line is ROI. Time and time again, case studies prove that a list of fans that signed up to receive your emails will outperform other lists, especially when you leverage that passion and interest correctly. But that’s a different post.
There’s been quite a bit of discussion recently about opt-out email marketing since (see DJ Waldow’s hammering of Harvard here) and we’d like to hear your thoughts! Chime in!