Today, I made an important decision for the benefit of my sanity and mental wellbeing.
I decided, after receiving my third marketing e-mail from a random company instead of the important e-mails I’ve been waiting for, that it was finally time to opt out.
That’s right. Today, I’m opting out of every single marketing e-mail that I receive. And I think that you should, too.
There’s a good chance that I’ll catch a bit of hell for this. After all, I have been a member of the sustainable design and “green” marketing community for a while, and the green marketing community loves to recommend the e-mail newsletter. As does the SEO community, and the folks who tell you that social media is all about providing “useful content” to your audience.
I’m not saying those folks are wrong. I’m saying that it’s really easy to step over the line from “wow, this is useful!” to “damn, this is annoying.” And many marketers, especially from bigger brands, cross over that line repeatedly. For example, during the unsubscribe process, I discovered that AAA had me signed up for no less than seven e-mail lists. Citrix (who makes GoToWebinar and other products) had me signed up for eight. I have no recollection of signing up for any of these lists, and the couple of lists I did sign myself up for (DailyOm, Self Magazine), send me 2-3 e-mails daily that end up in my trash bin.
So, let’s say you are a marketer, and you do want to send an e-mail newsletter? How do you make sure that you don’t end up with a bunch of fed up customers unsubscribing from your list? Here’s a couple of things I noticed about the e-mails that I actually read:
1. They’re personal. Not necessarily personal as in directed towards me, but personal as in they share something of the person I’m getting it from.
2. They’re occasional. My friend Colleen, the Communicatrix, sends her newsletter maybe once a month. It’s a long one, but always entertaining, and always has some interesting perspective on life, business, and Everything. If I got this every week, I’d probably get overwhelmed (as would she!), but once a month or so it’s nice and digestible.
3. If they come more than once a month, they’re mercifully short. Let’s face it. We’re all busy folks. Who has the time to read a weekly, or even daily, e-mail? As a small business, who has time to write that? If you do want to send something more than once a month, try doing 2-3 times a month at most, and keep it short. Marketing Mentor’s newsletter has been a staple in my inbox for years now, and it’s because she keeps it short, focused and useful.
4. They involve things I actually want to read about or see. This is where subjective preference comes in. As much of a yogi as I am, I find Gaiam’s products expensive and rarely worth the price (and the constant spam, both digital and paper, has been a hot button for me for a while now). But Modcloth can send me as many e-mails about clothing specials as it wants to. I may not buy anything, but I always have a moment to ogle retro-inspired dresses.
While you can’t control all of the responses that your users have to a campaign, there are some things you can control. Keep it short, relevant and occasional. Most of all, show respect for people’s time and energy. There’s a lot of information out there, and the last thing you want to do is contribute to the overload.
Article first published as How to Prevent Customers from Opting Out of Your E-Mails on Technorati.