Unsubscribe magic

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There are still email marketers who view the unsubscribe  link as necessary, but a totally scary part of email marketing. They want to keep it as far away from their readers as possible. They use old tricks like putting 50 spaces at the end of the email, or changing the background to match the font color.

But these actions have far worse consequences than a potential unsubscribe. Because stationed at the top of almost every email viewer is a nice clear button we know as SPAM or JUNK.  Now that is scary!

Subscribers today don’t just use the SPAM button to register a complaint about scams, or emails they didn’t request. It can be as basic as they no longer want to receive that email. They could have double opted in yesterday, but if your content doesn’t appeal to them, then they just decide to “kill it”!

You can’t really blame them. According to a Microsoft security report, more than 97% of all emails sent over the Internet are unwanted. After a while, people get tired of sorting the good from the bad and hit SPAM to cut down on the clutter. Marketing Sherpa (1)  says that almost 39% of consumers have used the spam button “…as a way to unsubscribe from emails they had asked to receive.”.  To rub salt in the wound, North America scored the second highest complaint rate (0.12%) among all the continents in our GetResponse report “Email Marketing Metrics Around the World”.

So you could be the most virtuous person in email marketing on the planet, and still get SPAM complaints.  Of course, the email client services also know that many spam reports are really unsubscribes, but it’s almost impossible to tell the difference – unless a pattern develops. Then all spam complaints hurt your sender reputation and could be leading to wholesale blocking of your emails.

The bottom line is that, as marketers, it’s your responsibility to inform readers why they’re receiving your email and how they can stop receiving them, and your “pitch” has to be more appealing, relevant, and straightforward than the SPAM button.

We have chosen Ellusionist, an enterprise customer with thousands of magic fans and subscribers, to demonstrate how it should be done. Now if anyone can make an unsubscribe button disappear, it’s this magic trick community.

Unsub link marked in yellow

They start off with an open, clear message in each of their email headers.  Then 4 very simple points – 3 that could reel you back in and 1 that makes it easy to leave.  It’s honest and polite and could save some unsubscribes. No reason for this reader to mouse around his email client and choose SPAM. Smart, huh!

* Web page view
* Why you are receiving the email
* How to stop receiving it
* How to make sure it reaches your inbox every time

So, you may ask, do they really need more opportunities to leave?

The answer is yes.

For any subscriber, signing up for a newsletter is an experiment. They may have some general idea of the content they’ll receive, but not about the quality or how the emails will relate to them.

New subscribers will judge you on the first newsletter or email you send to them.

But if they read your newsletter and decide it’s not for them, and your only unsubscribe option is at the top of your newsletter, which is not in their direct view at the right moment – and guaranteed not to allow “last gasp” emails? That’s right, the SPAM button!

That’s why our clever friends at Ellusionist decided to make sure they gave fans an easy “escape” if they decided the content wasn’t for them – but one that wouldn’t hurt the Ellusionist brand.

So their “best practice” was to offer readers not only the option to remove themselves from the email list, but alternate and additional ways to stay engaged. Easy, yet strategic.

Jason, Ellusionist VP, had this to say about their strategy.

‘We want to offer transparency to our audience and ensure they have the ability to choose how they want to communicate. Their feedback is a great source of information for us and allows us to target and segment much more effectively. We pride ourselves on the credibility of our newsletter content and are confident enough to display the unsubscribe buttons where they are most noticeable and effective.’

The takeaway here is that honesty is the best policy when it comes to unsubscribing. Ensure that your subscribers  are clear on exactly what they are receiving and why they are receiving it. Then give them the option to decide if it’s what they want to read.

We wonder whether you agree with Ellusionist? What’s your opinion? Let us know, we’re really curious!

(1) MarketingSherpa “Email Marketing Benchmark Guide 2008” (2008)

Ellusionist was founded by Brad Christian, a professional magician with more than 25 years of experience. With more than 70,000 members, the Ellusionist magic community is the largest of its kind on the internet. No other magic training Web site provides this level of ongoing support to its members.
Find out more at www.ellusionist.com

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