Email Marketers: Avoid Spam Complaints, Use this Smart Unsubscribe Option

by Amy Stewart
Partner, Stewart Creative Media, LLC | 

mail icon for email marketing tip articleAre you using email best practices to send your marketing messages to your audience? If not, you could be damaging your brand’s reputation in a not-so-obvious way.

It’s important to include a recipient’s email address in the unsubscribe line within your emails in order to avoid spam complaints, or use an email system that can detect a subscribing email address automatically. If you must ask for an email address when a person unsubscribes, it’s best to include a line that says “you’re subscribed with ” and “you’re receiving this email because you opted in…”, explaining to the recipient why, how, and with what email address they subscribed to your email. It’ll avoid any guesswork that may occur when a user is asked to re-type the receiving email address to unsubscribe. However, it’s best to use technology that can detect that data automatically and handle the unsubscribe process for you.

You see… we come into contact with today’s constant technology in many ways and times during our busy days, and we may not realize the level of stress that it puts on us. What you don’t want is a stressed recipient who may be more likely to report your email as junk if confusion or frustration occurs during the email transaction. Here’s now this can happen…

I have 5 to 10 email addresses set up for different purposes and reasons. I have email addresses set up for my business, a personal email through Gmail, personal email through Hotmail (my first ever email address), and a few more for random testing reasons. To streamline the reading of all of these messages, I receive all of these emails in one inbox, either on my iPhone, iPad, or computer.

I know I’m not alone in that many other people have multiple email addresses… so when receiving an email, it might not always be obvious to which email address the sender sent the email. This isn’t usually a problem, except for those cases when you choose to unsubscribe and the sender asks you for the subscribing email address. If the email hasn’t reiterated the receiving email address somewhere within the email, usually at the bottom, you are left to guess the email address with which you subscribed. To make matters even worse, sometimes the sender’s email management system doesn’t throw back an error if you didn’t type the right email address, so you are never opted out of the list, and you think you did.

This most likely will lead to frustration and negative feelings towards your brand. The recipient thinks you’re breaking the cardinal rules of email… so they’re very likely to get frustrated and mark your email as spam. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to remove an email address this way, but I guessed the wrong address, and kept receiving the unwanted emails.

The world is full of interruptions and distractions. It’s best to avoid them at all costs to keep everyone sane… and to keep you from not only being marked as spam, but potentially getting your emails blocked by ESPs due to multiple spam complaints (email service providers like AOL, Hotmail, Comcast, Yahoo, etc).

Now I you don’t really want unsubscribes, but not making it clear and easy to the people you’re targeting, it will actually work against you and affect you negatively in the long run. You should only want to send messages to people who want to receive them, and will read and interact with them to improve your email statistics and ROI.

A good rule of thumb in managing unsubscribe rates is to give people better options other than just a black and white subscribe/unsubscribe option. You can offer different frequency levels, and even narrow emails based on interests, at any time during the subscription process… whether that be when they sign-up or when they go to unsubscribe. For example, if a user had answered a few questions when they signed up and indicated that they enjoyed gardening as a hobby, and another user said they liked restoring old cars, the best and most profitable option would be to target the audiences differently and send them only emails that pertain to each hobby, respectfully. There are many ways to go about segmenting your email list, which I will get into in a later blog entry (stay tuned!).

With the right techniques used to produce and deliver your email messages, you can really hit a home run in the marketing world. The key is to do it right, but so many business owners just don’t have the time to dedicate to all that. If it’s possible for your business, I recommend having an expert handle it all for you. You wouldn’t want to ask your insurance agent to cater your next party would you? Too much damage can be done by doing email marketing wrong. Reputations can be tarnished by a simple typo. Keep a professional and consistently positive brand image for your business, and you’re more likely to profit than lose money over time.

Contact me today for help with your email marketing.

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