Few of the selling points of email marketing are as seductive as its scale: for the price of a single high-value AdWords click, a merchant can send hundreds of emails, and those hundreds of emails are going to contacts that come pre-qualified – they’ve given out their email address already, either to subscribe to email updates, enter a contest, get a free download or actually buy something.
How many people on your mailing list truly want the marketing emails they receive each day? Think about the emails you receive each day – how many of them do you open? How many of those do you read? How many of those do you act on? How many do you trash or archive without much thought? I make email campaigns for a living, I have a hobbyist interest in them, and I still end up ignoring 30-50% of the marketing emails I get in a given day. Compared to how easy it is to delete an email, store it for ‘later’ or mark it as spam, the process to unsubscribe from most mailing lists is downright arcane; it’s easier to ignore email than to ask it to stop, and so merchants prone to treating their lists indiscriminately are throwing ad spend away without even realizing it.
Sending a reconfirmation campaign to your list is a great way to ‘right-size’ your mailing list. In addition to saving money (if your ESP throttles the amount of email you can send based on credits), reconfirming your list is good for your list’s performance in the long-run: weeding out contacts that don’t want to receive your campaigns is good for your sending reputation and gives you a more realistic picture of your true open and clickthrough rates (and better marketing intelligence as a result). Being transparent with your contacts can also be a powerful trust signal for responsible members of your list.
It’s not uncommon for merchants to want to send an email blast to every possible recipient on their list. It’s smarter to target your list based on who your best, most responsive customers are.
When I was in college, there was a comic book shop across the street from campus. In addition to comics, books and board games, it also had a cooler stocked with snacks and drinks. The shop had customers like myself that came in every Wednesday, customers from out of town who might come in less frequently but spent more when they did, and a smattering of pedestrians who came in just to grab a soda.
Not all of those customers are equal, though they’re all people who come into a store and make a purchase. But that doesn’t mean their acceptance of the shop’s email campaigns are equal. If the shop is sending weekly, time-sensitive emails, only the first customer is likely to get value from its campaigns every week. The second customer might only need to read those emails once in awhile, but they’re still valuable to her when she does. The third customer, the one who just wanted a Pepsi, isn’t likely to ever care which issue of Batman is coming out this week. He’s a risk for reporting those emails as spam at least, and getting so annoyed that he stops coming into the store at most.
It’s easy to perform a reconfirmation campaign; many ESPs will dynamically insert an opt-in link into your email. If you’re ESP doesn’t, you can send a simple email directing users to click through to a thank-you page on your site and track clicks on the email to segment out your responses. The people who don’t reconfirm haven’t technically opted out, but you should email them with significantly less frequency – for major announcements, absolutely vital calls to action, or major sales (like your Black Friday deals). Your customers will thank you for it.