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Unsubscribe means unsubscribe

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Friday December 26, 2008 )

I unsubscribed from a list a few weeks back and I’m still receiving emails from the company. This isn’t an uncommon situation according to a recent survey, nor is making the subscriber jump through now-illegal hoops.

According to Return Path’s report, some companies are still requiring that the subscriber log in to an account to unsubscribe, a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act; updated earlier this year.

Return Path found that 20% of companies continued to send email after confirming unsubscription, with most sending 4 or more blurbs. In 11% of cases, messages were still being sent over 10 days after the unsubscribe date; another violation of the CAN -SPAM act.

We all want to keep people on our mailing lists, but when someone decides it’s time to go; well, it’s time for them to go. There’s no point in continuing to attempt to force feed people and to do so only decreases your open rates and will generally throw out your stats. Worse still, it frustrates people which can then tarnish your reputation; not to mention land you in legal hot water.

However, the Return Path report also makes a very good point. An unsubscribe request is not necessarily the end of a relationship and by putting some thought into how the unsubscribe process is executed, it can foster a continuing, positive association.

While it’s not acceptable to make people jump through hoops to unsubscribe, there’s nothing wrong with either trying to gauge why they decided to leave by asking a few non-compulsory questions so that you can improve your email marketing communications, or to offer a different type of subscription (perhaps a monthly summary instead of a weekly newsletter) which may better suit their needs.

The Return Path study on the unsubscribe experience can be downloaded here.

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