March 24, 2009

New Chart: Follow Our 3 Steps to Turn Your Opt-in into a Subscriber

SUMMARY: At last week’s Email Summit, we presented the audience with this chilling chart. It’s a little tough to decipher, but the bottom line is this: over 50% of respondents reported that of all the email they received from legitimate companies, they had asked only for 25% of it or less. Nearly 20% responded that they hadn’t asked for any of it. So, is opt-in a misnomer? Perhaps.

Read on to discover how you can get your opt-ins to become true subscribers. Includes three easy steps.
The Current Myth of Opt-in
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Today, many email relationships begin with what might be called a quasi opt-in event. For example, the pre-checked box for email subscriptions has become the norm rather than the exception. People who were simply looking for a receipt or a white-paper download ended up with an email subscription that is perfectly legal, but doesn’t truly fit the definition of opt-in.

Aside from the implications this might have on best practices, the question is how this affects the relationships that result. Here are a few tips to turn the subscriber into the kind of advocate who’s happy enough to subscribe, if given a second chance:

1. Segment this group – someone who gets on the list via a pre-checked box or some other quasi opt-in mechanism isn’t the same as a true subscriber. Think of them in the same way you would think of a co-registration name -- both need to be wooed. Separate them from other new subscribers and make sure that messaging explains why they’re receiving the email, what they’re going to get from it and why they should stick around.

2. Identify value early and often – as you would with any subscriber. Take advantage of the beginning days of the relationship to emphasize the value exchange that they’ve entered into (however unwillingly). An email address is a value commodity and something that should command as much respect as a phone number from marketers, perhaps more. They should get something of real value – special pricing, great information, previews, etc. – in exchange for that. More than anything, they should be certain that their name won’t be sold, rented or traded, and that they won’t be hammered by your email servers.

3. Monitor interaction, re-segment and say goodbye – people who aren’t true opt-ins might be good candidates for a sub-segment of your inactive list. If they have never interacted, at a certain point (relative to industry and frequency) it’s a best practice to ask them to re-subscribe (the traditional way) and to remove them from the list if they fail to do so.

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