ATLANTA, (March 20, 2006) -- Despite continued pressure on email marketers to grow lists and enhance ROI, Silverpop's comprehensive "Retail Email Marketing Study" found few retailers manage the opt-out process in ways beneficial to both recipient and sender.
According to MarketingSherpa, retailers on average experience monthly list growth of 6.1 percent and attrition rates of 2.1 percent, yielding a net growth rate of 4 percent a month. And JupiterResearch reports that nearly four out of 10 email marketers say list turnover is their greatest challenge. Despite the fact that marketers hate to lose contact with potential customers, few work aggressively to hang on to those considering leaving the fold.
"Managing opt-outs has always been a tricky issue for marketers," said Bill Nussey, CEO of Silverpop. "Generally, marketers do very little to maintain a relationship once recipients begin the process to be removed from an email list. However, in the course of our review of retail email programs, we uncovered a handful of companies that have developed impressive opt-out programs that can both help stave off list churn and provide senders important information to improve their email marketing programs."
Phase III of Silverpop's "Retail Email Marketing Study" examines how marketers present opt-out choices to subscribers and how the opt-out process is managed. Silverpop reviewed the email campaigns of 175 major retailers, including nationally recognized names such as Crate & Barrel, Neiman Marcus, JC Penney, CompUSA and many others. Phases I and II of the study, which reviewed opt-in practices and creative, respectively, were released last year.
"Certainly, after a customer indicates he doesn't want to receive any more emails from you, each additional message you send can leave a negative impression, harming your brand, your email delivery reputation and potentially get you in trouble with the law," Nussey said. "You should never put obstacles between email recipients and an easy opt-out process. However, as long as you provide a clear and easy opt-out mechanism, you can still offer customers alternatives to leaving."
For example, Silverpop found that 12 percent of companies gave customers the chance to change their preferences in addition to simply opting-out. Clicking the link to unsubscribe in a National Geographic email, for example, leads recipients to a preference page allowing them to select from among 17 different options in addition to simply unsubscribing.
A few companies give customers the chance to re-think their opt-out. Seven percent of the companies studied ask one last time whether the customer truly intended to unsubscribe, and then they conveniently include an easy link for opting back in. Such "think before you click" messages vary from Nordstrom's simple request to reconsider opting-out to Miller Brewing Company's reminders of the value of maintaining a relationship with the company.
"Marketers hoping to maintain customer relationships should consider implementing a similar re-engagement component to their opt-out process," Nussey said. "If you ask appropriately and remind recipients of the value of being on your list, you may find that enough customers will stay to make it well worth asking."
Even if you ultimately do lose a name on your list, well-planned opt-out programs can help uncover valuable information and can serve to leave a lasting positive impression of your company and your brand. Yet few retailers try to uncover why customers want to leave.
"You should try to get as much information as you can before the customer is gone for good," Nussey said. "Were they receiving too many email messages? Are they no longer interested in your product or service? Was the content not relevant enough? You can even provide an empty text box on the Web site in which they can add their own feedback."
The full report of Phase III includes data on the number of days companies took to remove a name from the list, the pros and cons of various opt-out methods, and shows examples of how some retailers say good-by. To receive Phase III as well as the first two phases of Silverpop's "Retail Email Marketing Study", visit www.silverpop.com.
Silverpop is a leading provider of permission-based email marketing solutions, strategy and services, with offices throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom. For the second year in a row, in 2005 JupiterResearch ranked Silverpop as the email service provider with the highest overall value for emailers with lists of over 150,000 recipients. Jupiter's annual evaluation of email service providers said "Silverpop offers one of the most complete email marketing applications, and together with its very usable interface, makes an excellent value for marketers."
Silverpop helps marketers cultivate and maintain long-term strategic relationships with customers and partners by maximizing the potential of email as a relationship tool. Its flexible service model allows marketers to choose from full service or ASP and easily move between the two, making it an ideal solution for any stage of an email program. Silverpop provides email marketing to industry leading companies including Fossil, The Bombay Company, British Sky Broadcasting, Weather.com, Golfsmith and more. Best practices and white papers are available at www.silverpop.com.