Why Offer Your Email Subscribers An Opt-Out?
The idea of temporary email campaign opt-out started in 2019 when the online florist Bloom & Wild offered subscribers the option not to receive emails about Mother's Day. Other brands followed suit with the trend, because although many people do celebrate events like Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, or have an interest in Back to School promotions, some do not. Emotional events like Father's Day or Valentine's Day can be upsetting to people who have experienced the loss of a parent, or who are estranged from their family. Valentine's Day is not fun if you've recently ended a relationship, while promotions for the new school term are irrelevant to those who do not have children.
Whether celebrations or time-sensitive promotions are upsetting or irrelevant for a particular customer, the option not to receive marketing communications around such an event gives your subscribers some control over what they receive. However, it is worth bearing in mind that with so many brands offering these temporary opt-outs at the same time, you may be contributing to a feeling overwhelm from all the similar messages clogging up an inbox.
Some brands don't necessarily need to send opt outs if they aren't planning a campaign where an event or celebration will be the main theme – it's quite a leap to imagine a Back to School promotion run by a supplier of building equipment, for example. You could differentiate your brand by taking an alternative angle on an event, and remove the need to offer this opt-out.
While some customers might appreciate the option (81% of respondents to a 2022 Capterra survey said they'd be more likely to buy from a brand that used this tactic), more recent research by the Data and Marketing Association found that these temporary measures were less popular than a blanket opt-out when it came to dealing with unwanted emails in general.
This tactic can work for some brands, but can have the unwanted side effect of causing mass opt-outs on a larger scale if used incorrectly. Knowing your audience is a crucial factor in deciding if this direction is one you want to go down. It is worth looking at your unsubscribe spikes and seeing if they coincide with the start of a Mother's Day campaign or similar event. If so, it might be worth using the temporary opt-out strategy to retain some of the subscribers who might otherwise ditch your emails altogether.
It is also worth considering the geographic spread of your customer base. Events like Mother's Day are celebrated on different dates in different countries, so UK based subscribers will find emails on the topic from US based companies in May confusing as well as potentially upsetting. If you don't already, ensure you geographically target event-tied promotions for the correct dates per country.
Offering customers the chance to customise their contact preferences at sign up is a good way of getting around the issue of potential upset caused by messages relating to emotionally sensitive, or irrelevant events. It is best to make this customisation as simple as possible – if many of your subscribers sign up using a mobile phone then tapping a succession of small boxes can be irritating and lead to high rates of abandonment.
If you want to offer a temporary opt-out to subscribers think about the wording you use. Phrases like “pause emails” are less confronting than “opt-out” or “I don't want to receive this” as a call to action. “Pause emails” also communicates that normal communications will still be active and that the subscriber doesn't need to reactivate a setting or take any other action once the event in question has passed.
This can be an effective and caring strategy for brands who regularly send promotional messages around emotive events, and done well it can improve your reputation among existing customers, and become a talking point when people recommend you. Done badly, it can lead to subscriber attrition rates increasing, and a negative shadow being cast over your reputation. We can help advise on the best way for your business, then take whatever action is needed without you lifting a finger.
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