Major Brands Fail to Honor Unsubscribes

December 30, 2008
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A new study by Return Path, titled Keeping the Subscriber Experience Positive After “Unsubscribe Me”  shed some light on how top companies are treating opt-outs.  The study highlighted the importance of the unsubscribe process in the lifecycle of the customer experience.  Ken Magill also interviewed Bonnie Malone of Return Path on the study, which can be read at the Direct Magazine […]

A new study by Return Path, titled Keeping the Subscriber Experience Positive After “Unsubscribe Me”  shed some light on how top companies are treating opt-outs.  The study highlighted the importance of the unsubscribe process in the lifecycle of the customer experience.  Ken Magill also interviewed Bonnie Malone of Return Path on the study, which can be read at the Direct Magazine site.

Shockingly, however, the study found that as many as 20% of major brands did not immediately respect unsubscribes.  When handling the opt-out process, these companies all sent more than one email after the unsubscribe, and many sent four or more messages.  While many marketers think that the relationship with a consumer ends with the opt-out, sending additional messages could have a seriously negative impact on overall brand image, and may cause customers to stay away for good.

In addition, new CAN-SPAM regulations surrounding unsubscribes specifically make it illegal to require a consumer to log in in order to opt-out.  While most companies provide a landing page confirming the opt out has taken place, some send a confirmation email. Sending an email to confirm an opt-out from emails is controversial and found by many consumers to be a little annoying, as they have just finished asking not to receive any more mail. 

In other cases, forcing the consumer to reply with a message with something like “unsubscribe me” in the subject line is both time-consuming and bothersome.  I have had to fill out one of these emails before and found it to be an unnecessary hoop to jump through as well as inconvenient.  To add, I still received messages from this online clothing merchant after they forced me to mail them an unsubscribe message- and.  Needless to say, I won’t be shopping on their site anymore.

Return Path recommends that companies make the unsubscribe process as simple and convenient for the consumer as possible, as well as consider it a part of their customer relationship, rather than just a technical transaction.  Give departing customers the best possible brand experience and pay attention to the quality of your unsubscribe process with the same fervor as welcome messaging.  The first step to improving the brand experience, is as always, reputation.  Monitoring for compliance provides the necessary foundation for making the unsubscribe process a positve part of your branding strategy.

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