And How To Use Inbound Marketing To Prevent This From Happening In The First Place
I’m an inbound marketing scientist, so I’m constantly running a set of experiments. My current experiment involves me opting out of all my “spammy” emails. In the past, I just deleted unwanted emails, but then I got thinking. If I don’t send a message, how is anyone going to know they’re bothering me and how am I going to change the way people think about marketing going forward?
The headline of the article is clearly a little funny, and I’m not going to singlehandedly impact everyone’s opt-out rates. However, I’m encouraging all of you to look closely at your opt-out rates. It’s not a metric that marketers look at as consistently as email open rates and click-through rates. If your audience is not feeling the love, your opt-out rates will start inching up.
Here are a handful of email marketing tactics to deploy that will help you to lower your opt-out rates.
Provide Regular Check-Ins And Options For Subscription Preferences
Most of the email management systems we use to help with email marketing today have the option of letting subscribers manage their own preferences. However, that means you’re going to have to prompt and remind your audience that they have this option.
By checking in with them from time to time, reminding them of their power to control the pace and type of communication, and helping them better manage the flow of information, you’re proactively creating a more collaborative and partner-focused relationship with people who one day might be your best customers.
When you manage your marketing like this, you’re telling subscribers you care about them, their opinions and their inboxes. This is in contrast to everyone else, who views them as a target to be peppered with emails until they finally give up. Differentiating your company, even in subtle ways like this, is a big part of marketing.
Consider Letting Your Audience Double Opt-In
As marketers, we want to eliminate as much friction from the marketing and sales process as possible. Having double opt-ins provides additional friction, which is why so many programs don’t include this practice. But going forward, this might be something worth discussing or, better yet, testing.
Benchmark your current conversion rate on email subscription offers and then add the double opt-in process. Let that run for a few weeks and see if your conversion rate dropped, how dramatically it went down, and the impact on the open rate, click-through rate and opt-out rate for those people who did double opt-in. The results might surprise you. Regardless, now you’ll know exactly how to proceed. That’s the power of using data and science to make your marketing better.
Keep An Eye On The Frequency Of The Emails
This is something that on the surface appears to be obvious, but in execution it can become complicated. Here’s why. Marketing is emailing clients once a month and thinks this is a reasonable frequency (and it is). But sales is also sending emails. Plus, you might have different types of marketing (like corporate marketing, product marketing, event marketing or field marketing) each sending out emails.
Here’s an even simpler scenario. While marketing is sending monthly emails, you have people who also subscribe to your blog and sign up for events like webinars that come with their own sequence of promotional emails. Plus, you have emails regarding a handful of trade shows you go to and you have product announcements. The list goes on and on. You might not actually realize that your audience is getting hit six times a month, not once a month.
You want to evaluate the entire prospect experience over a few months to see how often you’re actually touching subscribers, what emails you’re sending and exactly what the experience feels like. I chose that word “feels” deliberately. You want your prospects to feel good about your company. The best way to get the same feeling as your prospects is to sign up, subscribe and opt-in to all those elements available and see for yourself. You’ll quickly get a good gauge of the frequency, quality and effectiveness of the email marketing.
Keep Tabs On Your Other Engagement Metrics To Make Sure You’re Delivering Value
It goes without saying that opt-out rates can’t be the only measure of whether you’re over-emailing prospects. You need to create a set of engagement metrics that support your strategy around email marketing. Open rates and click-through rates are a great place to start, but engagement metrics need to quickly advance to include link tracking once they land on the site, average time on the site, session length and content downloaded if links are provided within the email.
You have to look at the quality of the leads through lead scoring and the engagement level in terms of signups for webinars, events or other special promotional emails. Your blog is also likely providing subscribers with updates daily, weekly or even monthly. How engaged are these people? Are they reading? Are they visiting other pages? Are they converting on CTAs within the blog? All of these metrics give you an idea around engagement.
There’s something else to consider, too. Today, email marketing in the U.S. is relatively unregulated. The CAN-SPAM regulations are light and not very limiting. But if you look at Canada’s version and the version the EU is considering, they are much more stringent with significant financial ramifications for both the agency and the offending company. If we continue to abuse email marketing, it’s possible that these types of regulations could become a reality in the U.S., too.
But more importantly, our agency is about results and performance. If your email marketing is not producing the desired quantitative metrics, then you need to actively revamp it so it does produce the desired business results. Sending emails for the sake of emailing is a fast track to an annoyed and disengaged audience. You can do better and we can help. We actually have an inbound marketing guide to email marketing; click here to read it.
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