Are you confusing your website visitors?

As a provider of email marketing services, I recommend to my customers that they should have a clear and simple approach to enabling website visitors to opt in.

tick-greenFor tick boxes on a website, a best practice approach is:
  1. No boxes to be pre-ticked.
  2. For the user to opt in to what they want to receive, rather than tick a box to opt out.
  3. To have a uniform approach. Ie. Do not have a mixture of “tick this box to opt in to X” and “tick this box to opt out of Y”.
A bad example is the one below on the Royal Mail website.

The first selection of boxes requires the user to tick the boxes if they do not wish to receive marketing from Royal Mail.

The second selection of boxes asks the user to tick the boxes if they do wish to receive marketing from third parties.

The problem with this is the second set of boxes requires an opposite action to the first set.

A busy or impatient user, having ticked the first set of boxes may well gloss over the instructions for the second set, and repeat the box ticking exercise, thus unwittingly opting in to receive marketing from third parties.



Email marketing – why you should make it easy to unsubscribe

But why? Surely you want to prevent people from unsubscribing?

No. We say make it easy to unsubscribe. Here’s why.

Making it easy to unsubscribe…

1. Cleans your list ensuring you’re not wasting money emailing people unnecessarily.

2. Ensures you’re only communicating with people who want to hear from you.

3. Means people are less likely to report as spam. Too many spam complaints will affect your sender reputation and you could even end up on a spam blacklist. Google, Hotmail and AOL have a “report spam” button which people will click if they can’t easily find the unsubscribe link.

4. Provides a much better user experience and leads to less frustration. Every subscriber interaction with your business should be as positive as possible.

Our top tips for easy unsubscribe

  1. Include an unsubscribe link in the header of your e-newsletter along with a permission reminder of why they are receiving it.
  2. Include a second unsubscribe link at the end of the e-newsletter. Make it part of the main body of the email, don’t hide it in the small print footer. And do make it legible.

Below are two recent examples of poor unsubscribe positioning.

In both cases the unsubscribe link is buried in the lengthy small print text at the foot of the newsletters and are very difficult to find.

Example 1: 

Unsubscribe example
Example 2

Unsubscribe example

E-newsletter list quality – what it is and why it matters

List quality

So, you’ve decided to do some email marketing.  You’ve got 5,000 opt in email addresses built up over 10 years. You’re ready to send out your first issue.

Oh no you’re not!

Unless you check and clean your contacts frequently it’s likely the quality of your list will be very poor. The results from your email marketing are very likely to be disappointing. With poor list quality you will waste money by sending it to people who have no interest in reading it or because their email address no longer exists.

It’s far better to have a high quality, smaller list of 1,000 emails than a low quality list of 5,000. A high quality list means your subscribers are more likely to be engaged by your content and do business with you at some stage.

Here are some simple steps to clean your list:

1. What is the age of each contact record? Ie. When was the record created?
A good rule of thumb is not to send to contacts which are more than two years old unless you can definitely say they are still active contacts. Most decent contact management / CRM packages automatically log a record creation date which will help with this task.

2. What is the relevancy of that contact?
Some small and medium-sized businesses I talk to don’t have an effective contact management / CRM system in place. For example they just pile all the contacts together into Outlook – business contacts, former work colleagues, relatives and friends.  If this is you, check if that contact is relevant for your e-newsletter before using it.

3. Personal knowledge.
Having actioned (1) and (2) above, scan the list and use your personal knowledge to decide if the contact stays or goes. Do they still work for that company? Are they still trading? Have they retired?

4. The final stage – having cleaned the list and before you send your e-newsletter.
When you first send the e-newsletter to your newly cleaned list, explain to people in the header why they’re receiving it and include at least two unsubscribe links. One in the header and one just below your sign off.
If they unsubscribe from your first newsletter that’s OK. It makes your list even cleaner and ensures you’re only sending to interested recipients.

Ps. As well as the explanation of why they’re receiving the newsletter in the header, another useful technique for your first edition is to include an engaging opening greeting.  Here’s an example from a recent client’s first newsletter.

We’re sending you this newsletter because we’ve met at some point in the past. Perhaps you’re an existing professional contact or we’ve met you at one of the many business networking events we attend.  Whatever the reason we’ll never knowingly send spam and hope you benefit from receiving this newsletter. Please unsubscribe here if you no longer wish to receive it.