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BizReport : Email Marketing : October 22, 2009

Prevent spam complaints with quick, easy unsubscribe process

There may come a time when a consumer no longer wants your email communications or, for one reason or another, they aren't happy with what you're sending them. That consumer wants out - they want to unsubscribe. If you don't make that process easy, they may just reach for the spam button.

by Helen Leggatt

If your unsubscribe process is too complex, time-consuming or, worse still, undetectable within emails or on your website you are in danger of having that communication labeled as spam by a frustrated recipient. Too many complaints of spam and you could be blocked by ISPs.

Earlier this year, a study from Silverpop, "Spam: What Consumers Really Think", found 7 out of 10 respondents thought their ISPs would block future emails if they used the spam button - and that they'd continue to use it even though it could prevent emails from that IP reaching anyone else.

So, how can you avoid being labeled a spammer, make the unsubscribe process easy and hassle-free and perhaps even stop a few customers from deleting themselves from your database?

1. Make the unsubscribe link a prominent feature of email communications. Don't be scared to place it at the top of an email - remember, if a customer wants out they want out, the harder you make it for them to do so, the more likely they are to become frustrated and even distrustful of your unsubscribe process.

2. Do not ask for a password to begin or complete the email unsubscribe process - this is against FTC CAN-SPAM rules.

3. Not everyone who attempts to unsubscribe does so because they want to stop receiving emails altogether. Some may wish to re-register with a new email address and others may not be happy with the frequency or content of emails they receive. If, during the unsubscribe process, you provide the opportunity for tasks and choices such as these to be made, you might just prevent a customer from unsubscribing.

4. While it's okay to ask a consumer why they have chosen to unsubscribe, don't make this mandatory. To encourage consumers to share information provide drop-down lists of suggestions while allowing space for free text entries.

5. Do not send an unsubscribe confirmation email, make sure the finality is conveyed to the consumer at the time they hit the unsubscribe button.

6. Finally, do not make the confirmation screen a dead-end. Might the consumer want information on your product or service via another channel such as Facebook, Twitter, RSS or even by mail? Provide the consumers with alternative ways in which to stay in touch.

Tags: customer database, customer management, email marketing, spam, unsubscribe

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