Opting out: A guide to letting go of email subscribers the right way
Email newsletters and marketing campaigns are considered to be a low-cost, effective way to reach your audience, making it a no-brainer for many brands. However, as inboxes fill up, email fatigue can set in and members of your audience may wish to unsubscribe.
No marketer wants to see the email list they worked so hard to build shrink, but mishandling the unsubscribe process can have dire consequences on your brand’s reputation and bottom line.
What’s at stake?
For starters, your company could be fined (up to $41,484 per violation), as outlined in the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) CAN-SPAM Act compliance guide.
The CAN-SPAM Act in a nutshell. Keep in mind that the CAN-SPAM law doesn’t just apply to bulk emails, it also includes “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.” It stipulates that you must:
- Use accurate header information and subject lines. This means the “From,” “To,” “Reply-to,” routing information, and subject lines should accurately reflect what’s in your email. Essentially, don’t try to trick recipients into opening the message.
- Identify your message as an advertisement.
- Provide a physical postal address.
- Provide a clear way to opt out of receiving future emails.
- Process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after the email was sent and honor those requests within 10 business days.
- Monitor third parties that may be handling your email campaigns on your behalf. Both the brand whose products or services are being promoted as well as the third party can be held legally responsible.
How hard is the FTC cracking down on offenders? Let’s just say, more likely than a fine are email deliverability problems.
“While the FTC has not had an enforcement action in recent memory, the deeper penalty is with the receivers (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.),” said Ryan Phelan, co-founder of marketing consultancy Origin Email. “They see a higher standard when it comes to not only customer permission and engagement, but they are the true determination of your message being spam.”
“A simple fine from the FTC is not what’s going to get you. It’s when you cannot get any of your mail to people that may actually want it,” warned Phelan.
What it means to get flagged as spam. In addition to the legal consequences of ignoring proper opt-out procedures, you may also find your open rates (and by extension, revenue) plummeting as recipients turn to their email client’s “report spam” button.
When a recipient flags your communication as spam, Google says that it receives a copy of it, which it may analyze to protect others. That means that, over time, more reports might land your brand in the spam folder instead of in front of your audience — and, since “out of sight” often equates to “out of mind,” your email campaigns may become less effective and your brand less relevant.
Opt-out best practices
An email subscriber can opt out on good terms and provide you with actionable insights as to why they want out, or …read more
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