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The Long Goodbye

December 9, 2008  

"Contrary to popular belief among marketers," says a ReturnPath whitepaper, "an unsubscribe request is not necessarily the end of a customer relationship. By executing a well-thought-out, positive unsubscribe experience, a company can extend their brand equity and keep the customer for years to come, even if that customer is no longer an email subscriber."

To see how well corporations currently manage the opt-out process, ReturnPath unsubscribed from 45 email lists it had previously joined for another study. While most included links to unsubscribe or preference pages in their messages, a few still required recipients to send unsubscribe requests by email. The majority of the companies provided immediate confirmation that an address would be removed from the list. Some even offered the exact date this would take effect.

However, surprisingly few offered anything but a total opt-out: only 2 companies out of the 45 studied offered options for subscribers to change the frequency they received email, or to opt out of just some of the marketers’ emails. And only 11% of companies allowed subscribers to change their email address on the unsubscribe landing page.

"While the basics were well-executed in most cases," concludes ReturnPath, "most companies did not realize maximum benefit from the opt-out process." Their mistake? Treating the process as a technical transaction instead of an opportunity to continue a conversation with the customer. It pays to make that goodbye a long one.

The Po!nt: Don't just dump them, OK? Design your opt-out page to offer subscribers options rather than an either-or ultimatum.

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