Are Email Marketers Snobs Who Have Forgotten Their Roots?

EROI just released a study called The Cradle and the Grave that shares survey results from over 500 marketers about opt-in, opt-out and feedback loops. I initially read the statistics and found them interesting and was ready to file the stats and move on. And then something struck me. Unlike most surveys with a lot of statistics, this report was much more than a “nice to have,” non-actionable survey. This one really struck a chord with me.

It seems this report could actually be sending us a warning: Change or die. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic over this, but statistics like “only 30% of respondents offer confirmed opt-in” and “only 23% enable consumer-driven frequency settings to maintain a relationship” scare me. I mean, haven’t we, as an industry grown at all? Twelve years since inception of email marketing, have email marketers turned into “snobs” who have forgotten their roots as consumers?

Before you post a comment and tell me I am insane, think about it: In this report I learned that 90% of people who click on an unsubscribe link or button never hear a word from the company they unsubscribed from. WOW. If your best friend got up and said, “Please don’t speak to me or call me ever again” and walked out of the room, would you just shrug your shoulders and move on with life? I don’t think so. So why are we acting this way with our customers?

We should be looking into ways to find out why people are opting out and offer solutions. Maybe give subscribers the ability to opt-out by message type (i.e., events, special offers, etc.). Maybe we give them the ability to receive updates through a different electronic channel, like RSS or mobile alerts. Or maybe we simply just ask, “Are you sure you want to leave?” and offer the ability to call a human being to discuss it. I am not suggesting that anyone keep emailing people who opt-out, but I am suggesting that we try harder to understand and save these relationships.

Over the years, email marketing has become increasingly challenging both strategically and technically. As an industry, shouldn’t we turn our collective focus on addressing some of the elements (like ISP deliverability issues) that cause us to devote countless hours of our time so that we can return to paying attention to our customers?

Reading this reader survey and report made me realize how simple is can be to take our biggest assets (our customers) for granted and just let them walk out the door. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you download it, take a look at the stats and think about how your current company’s efforts may actually be reflecting on the future stability of your customer relationships. My guess is that if we stopped acting like we didn’t care when people opt-out, we could very well win back the loyalty of 40% of those people, or more.

—Jeanniey Mullen of the eec

One thought on “Are Email Marketers Snobs Who Have Forgotten Their Roots?

  1. While I don’t have a problem with asking why someone opted-out of your newsletter, I think you need to be careful how you go about it. Once they opt-out, you should respect their wishes. Maybe send an email in response to opting-out that confirms they’ve been removed from the list and contains a survey about why they’ve opted-out. The survey would have to be quick and short to encourage people to take it. If they don’t provide any information about why they opted-out via the survey, they probably won’t provide that info from further contact. Just let it go and move on.

    Jeff Kempf, marketing intern at

Comments are closed.