Are you worried about recipients opting-out?

30 April, 2019

It is the one link that must be present in every marketing e-mail (commercial message) - loved by recipients, hated by senders, abused by spammers - a link to opt-out. But is this link as evil as it is often considered by many?

When we carry out market research, opt-outs as well as spam reports are always an important part of that research due to the significant impact they have on deliverability. These important signals are too often overlooked by marketers, and every marketer should pay close attention to them.

Opt-outs are often perceived by marketers as undesirable and they try to hide the unsubscribe link from recipients by using small fonts or making the process as difficult as possible. Let's begin by saying that this is totally inappropriate and not just at the edge of the law, but above all it only increases the likelihood that the recipient will report the message as spam. This is how 22.2% of all recipients who fail to unsubscribe respond. In the case of men, it is 25.9%, on the other hand in the case of women this share is lower and 18.4% solve the inability to opt-out by reporting the email as spam.

Opt-out must be seen as much as an important signal as opening or clicking is. By unsubscribing, the recipient tells us that they no longer have any interest in the messages and it is crucial for the sender to focus on the reasons. The most common reason, with 31.4%, is that the recipient receives messages too frequently. If you thought 22.2% of recipients reporting spam due to opt-out issues was a lot, too high a sending frequency leads 42.5% of recipients to report messages as spam!

The difference in perception of the promotion of goods and services is interesting - while 25.5% of recipients opt-out if the type of service is no longer needed, 19.1% of the recipients opt-out if they no longer need the goods offered. Almost a fifth of the recipients then opt-out if they consider the content of the messages irrelevant. Irrelevant content is bothering the recipients so much that 51.3% of the recipients choose to report it as spam. It closely trailis behind the totally unwanted messages that the recipient has never signed up to receive, with 53.5% of the recipients reporting as spam.

The fact that irrelevant messages are considered by the recipients as being almost as annoying as the ones they have not signed up for, is the reason why the definition of spam says "messages that the recipient considers to be unsolicited".

If you have considered opt-out links in your emails as a necessary evil, you should also consider how to make it as easy as possible for the recipients to unsubscribe - whether permanently or temporarily. In a similar fashion to the way Mailkit identifies temporary bounces triggered by out of office and vacation messages on behalf of our clients, and temporarily suspends messaging. This reduces the number of recipients who upon returning from holidays and seeing the daunting sight of a mailbox full of offers, opt for bulk reporting as spam as the fastest and easiest solution. 

Remember that email marketing is a two-way communication channel, and the recipient's interests should always be the first.