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Effective Opt-Out Page Messaging

Jacob Brain


What is the cost of an unsubscribe to your business? I bet it’s more than you think. So when approaching the design and content of your opt-out page, you should be sure to create an experience that might save a few of those unsubscribers from leaving your list.

Let’s first break down the critical points of an opt-out flow. First is the email that results in a negative reaction, followed by a landing page where they confirm the opt-out, and finally a thank you page. We’ll address the opt-out pages starting with the landing from the unsubscribe link to keep our focused tight and detailed.

It’s not you, it’s me.

A lot of unsubscribe actions happen from a content and frequency perspective. It’s not that the customer is dissatisfied with your products, they’re simply not applicable or attractive to them any more. They have moved on in one way or another. So how do you approach this issue? Here are a few things to consider.

1. A different list
Allow the user to switch the preferences for which list, products, or promotion they get, not just unsubscribe.

2. Timing is everything
Maybe once a month was too often, but if you have a sale, they want to know. Be creative with a frequency and message options that keeps the customer engaged.

3. You never listen
An unsubscribe is a great proof that you might not have known that person well enough to keep them around. Did you ever send a preference on email marketing to them? Did you know what they preferred to hear about and how frequently? This is the equivalent of the husband who never listens to his wife until he gets the divorce papers. Invest now in the relationship. Also, you should always qualify the opt-out. Give them a few options before you allow them to leave, so you know why for sure.

It’s in your court.

Once someone leaves your list; how valuable are they to you? Enough to go after them? Maybe you need to think about the win-back. The win-back is the idea of getting a subscriber back on your list after they have left. And the win-back starts on the opt-out confirmation page and is followed up by a diligent, planned, yet short campaign.

1. Restate the obvious, create incentive
They just left, but you need to remind them why they signed up in the first place. Again, their leaving does not mean your offering is defunct, it just means it’s no longer applicable. And if you’ve followed all the suggestions above, the match is no longer working and they are ready to move on. What you should do in any case, is restate your value proposition clearly. Also, ask if they know anyone who might be interested in being on your list or your interested in your service. This works great in conjunction with an offer, or coupon to the new email address. “Give your friend $10 off their first purchase” with a simple email signup. Even if you they don’t particularly need to shop with you.

2. Don’t follow up right away, but follow up
Automation is not love. Users are smart and they will know a canned response as soon as it hits the inbox. Find a time, maybe weekly, to contact your unsubscribes after they left the list.  Make it feel personal and connected. Don’t give promises, or sell anything. Just find something that originally appealed to them and let them evaluate. If you have good retention data, you know what appealed to them and maybe understand why they are not around anymore and can reconnect on that information.

3. Work your feedback
Make sure you put feedback into action whenever you learn from your unsubscriptions. Don’t let 100 people slide through without addressing the issue that you collected from your opt-out survey. Make the changes needed to prevent the next loss if you can. This is a great source of “preference” suggestions when you recalibrate your list and user preferences.

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