I have a very common name and, as an early Gmail adopter, I was lucky enough to get my name as my email address.
The downside? I get literally hundreds of emails every month that don’t belong to me. Not only do these messages clog my inbox, but with all the newsletters and offers I receive each day, it’s extremely difficult to remember if a commercial message was something I wanted, or if I’m getting it by mistake.
According to Microsoft, 75% of email messages reported as spam are actually legitimate, requested communications. The subscriber entered the wrong email address, didn’t uncheck an opt-in box when they registered for a website, or simply forgot that they signed up. So, these messages are a gray area when it comes to deliverability – they’re legitimate, permission-based sends that are important to some people, but may be considered by others as spam.
To help fight legitimate spam and the inbox clutter caused by unwanted graymail, email providers are increasingly relying on personalized, relevancy-based filtering to determine which messages are important to individual subscribers. If your messages are reported as spam or even ignored, they won’t get priority placement in the inbox, and your subscribers may never see your message. As an email sender, this means you need to protect your reputation as well as your position in the inbox through a clear unsubscribe mechanism and a reengagement strategy.
Senders are often wary of the unsubscribe option. You’ve spent a good amount of time and effort growing your list, so you don’t want your valuable subscribers to leave. However, if you don’t provide those who don’t want your message with a way to clearly remove themselves from your list, they generally respond in one of two ways:
- Report your message as spam or junk, harming your reputation with not only that subscriber, but that email provider as well. If enough subscribers report you as sending spam, you risk your reputation even further by potentially ending up on a block list, which impacts multiple email providers.
- Ignoring your future messages, which tells the email provider that your messages are either not wanted or relevant, pushing you out of the inbox.
Therefore, providing subscribers with a clear and prominent way to unsubscribe is in your best interest as an email sender. You may lose a few subscribers, but your reputation will be protected.
While many senders only place their unsubscribe link somewhere in the footer of the email, consider also putting it at the top, in the “preheader” area. Include a brief reason for the message, such as, “You are receiving this message because you registered on our website. If you no longer want emails from us…” Also, consider giving subscribers preference options other than receiving all messages and unsubscribing. Perhaps someone wants to receive offers from you, but not your newsletter (or vice versa). By allowing them to choose what messages they receive from you, they may be more likely to remain on your list instead of completely opting out.
Example of “Preheader” Unsubscribe Link
Also consider implementing a reengagement email to keep your subscriber list fresh and filter out the subscribers who are no longer interested in receiving messages from you. A typical reengagement email is sent to subscribers who haven’t opened an email in a particular period of time. The messaging asks if the subscriber would still like to receive email messages from you, and requires an action – usually a click – to stay on the list. Subscribers who do not respond are removed from the email program, and you know the ones who do are still interested in hearing from you. While these campaigns do decrease your list size, the subscribers who remain are more likely to respond to your messages, which will further increase your relevancy in the eyes of the email providers.
Unfortunately, not everyone on your email list will want to receive your messages, even if you are collecting valid opt-ins. They may have changed their minds, forgot they registered, or entered the wrong email address! Luckily, with a clear unsubscribe method and a reengagement campaign, you can maintain a great sender reputation and focus on your most interested subscribers.