We really must opt-out of annoying our customers


In the last two weeks I've put some effort into opting-out of emails. I can't read them all because simply get too many, so something has to give. In some cases, I signed up for the newsletter or opted in to something with every intention of keeping up, but it just became too much. In other cases, my name has been added to some list and then it got sold, so I get all sorts of emails from people and organizations I’ve never heard of. So, if I haven’t opened your email in the last few months, then I've likely unsubscribed from your list - don't take it personally.

Unsubscribing can be simple and straightforward – one click and done. Other times, you might first be asked "why you are leaving." That’s a little more work, but it’s also nice because you get the impression that they care what you think. In any case - choose the drop-down or enter the reason in the text field, and it’s done. Simple.

Not allowing a full opt-out is annoying.

Really? How about not getting ANY more emails from you?

And then there are the ones that keep coming and coming. They offer the perfunctory unsubscribe process, but sometimes you are only able to opt-out of getting emails from specific people in their organization, or from receiving emails on a specific topic. It doesn't seem to matter because you still get the emails but from different people or about different topics and it's the same organization doing the sending.

Not allowing full email opt-outs is annoying.

You mean I have to individually opt-out of all 22 of your categories for your emails to stop??

The emails are really from the same company putting their same spray-and-pray hard sell in an email with another oh-so-clever subject line. To me - that’s annoying.

It’s disrespectful and it makes me want to not do business with you.

There’s one national retailer that I’ll leave unnamed that lets me upload digital pictures and pick them up at the store by my house. It works well for sharing pictures with overseas relatives and other people that don’t have email or access to social media.

But then I start getting the almost-every-other-day promotions from this retailer. And no matter how many times I unsubscribe it usually takes about 3 weeks for the emails to stop – until I order another set of pictures. Honestly, it makes me want to stop doing business with this store.

There’s a better option. A few years ago, our own company took a look at our email practices and found our opt-out rate alarming. We took it to heart that a fair number of the people reacted to our emails by opting-out of them. Either we hit them at the wrong time, or with the wrong message, or in the worst cases - we were probably just annoying them with too many messages.

Since then, we’ve all gotten better at crafting strong subject lines, personalizing messages and making our emails more visually pleasing - fewer clicks, clear calls to action, and all that. We’ve also gotten better at creating content that our audiences value, and also conveying the value to those people. But the biggest impact has come from using SAS Marketing Optimization to determine when to reach out, and to offer something that would be most welcomed by each recipient.

Using SAS Marketing Optimization, we’ve reduced our yearly email opt-outs by 41%.

Like many organizations, we have interactions with our customers across multiple channels – including live chat and via social media - and marketing optimization works particularly well for companies with complex marketing. Multiple operating units, multiple channels, overlapping campaigns and limited budgets are when marketing optimization can provide the best combinations for your organization.

If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at this whitepaper, Improving Multichannel Marketing with Optimization. It’s the summary of a recent webinar the American Marketing Association produced for us on this topic and I think you'll find it interesting. However we do it, we really must opt-out of annoying our customers. It's no way to do business - not sustainably.

As always, I appreciate your following me and hope you gained some good insights with this post.


About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - a Digital Marketing Principal here at SAS focused on Content Strategy. I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions and maybe even challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I stay busy with my wife and I keeping up with my 2 awesome college-age kids, volunteering for the Boy Scouts, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.


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