Has iOS 10 Mail made it too easy to unsubscribe?01/06/2017
In September of 2016, Apple’s iOS 10 Mail app started supporting a line of code Email Service Providers (ESPs) use in the header of their emails that enables an instant one-click unsubscribe feature. It is called list-unsubscribe, or native unsubscribe; meaning the action to unsubscribe happens directly from within the mail app.
With Apple’s iOS Mail accounting for 44% of email opens, this is another impactful change for email marketers. List-unsubscription isn't new. Microsoft implemented the feature in 2007 and Gmail added it in 2009. Most ESPs take opt-outs from list-unsubscribes. Konvey.com certainly does.
Did you see a jump in unsubscribes in the fall of 2016? So, has Apple made it too easy to opt-out of email subscriptions? Our answer might surprise you; we say, “no.” Of course, we know what you’re thinking, “Are you nuts? I’ve worked for years to cultivate our extensive email list, why would I want to make it easier for someone to opt-out?”
We love this development because if you saw a rise in unsubscribes last fall, we bet you also saw a decrease in SPAM complaints (and feedback loop traffic or FBLs).
Let us explain:
1. The train has left the station; let’s get on board.
Apple only just now joined the party on native unsubscribe. Gmail and Microsoft (accounting for another 27% of email opens combined) have supported it for years now, although less conspicuously than Apple’s. Email consumers have been seeing native unsubscribe for quite sometime now, they much prefer it, and it is only a matter of time that it shows up in more email apps.
2. Unsubscribes are a much-preferred option for YOU than a dreaded SPAM complaint.
Native unsubscribe was developed because many consumers were exceptionally unsatisfied with a clumsy, arduous, and sometimes completely ineffective unsubscribe process. Frustrated consumers could just hit the more convenient and more conspicuous “Mark as SPAM” and never hear from you again. According to Litmus research, about half of email subscribers have “Junked” mails when the traditional unsubscribe process is too hard.
If it is easier to subscribe to your newsletter that it is to unsubscribe, you’ll collect SPAM complaints; and when you collect SPAM complaints, your deliverability bottoms-out as your IP and domain will now trip the SPAM protections in place at the ISPs.
3. Unsubscribes are not necessarily bad.
Look, we understand the thinking: more leads is more leads. But I think we can all realize that fewer high quality leads (a.k.a. the engaged and satisfied email recipient) is a better option than hundreds (or even thousands) of unengaged and sometimes annoyed leads. A more conspicuous opt-out is a way that your list can become self-cleansing; because interested and engaged subscribers won’t decide to opt-out just because it is now easier.
“Instead of seeing list-unsubscribe as a threat, see it as a call-to-action to make your subscribe process friendlier.” Chad White, Litmus
The one downside to native unsubscribe, and four tips to mitigate it.
We think that this is a good development for email marketing; but there is one obvious downside. Native unsubscribe usurps systems that use an exit questionnaire or a “Manage My Subscription” dashboard. Of course, this is what email marketers would much prefer as that provides us a chance for some consumer feedback on our campaigns, and we even get one last chance to retain a subscriber.
Dirigo’s new ESP platform, Konvey , has robust customer subscription management support.
To avoid the one-click quick unsubscribe, email marketers should make their own preferred unsubscribe process conspicuous and friendly. That’s why we are now recommending to our clients that they no longer bury their preferred unsubscribe link in the footer of their email.
Here we see Men’s Health’s bravery on this front. Its unsubscribe link is right in the header menu.
Here’s our advice:
- Provide a prominent unsubscribe link, and make sure it works. Don’t obscure it.
- Make your subscription management landing page easy and quick. Do not require the user to log in to unsubscribe.
- Keep your content valuable.
- Respect your subscriber. You’ve been invited into their inbox. Be a polite, but noticeable, guest.
- Know the business rules associated with list-unsubscribe at your ESP. It's not as straight forward as you might expect and every ESP deals with list-unsubscribes differently.
These are a few of the Opt-out rules that can be associated with list-unsubscribe:
- List(s) associated with the particular mailing
- All lists currently subscribed
- All current external lists (and sometimes internal lists)
- All current lists and new lists
- Global suppression
- All of the above can or cannot impact transactional email
With our Konvey.com product we choose option b as our default. This means that when the marketing manager creates a new list they need to be concerned with the subscription status of all of the other lists. You need to continually ask – "does the user want the email that will come from my new marketing list."
Of course, the tried and true method of retaining your subscribers is to keep them engaged, satisfied, and looking forward to reading the content of your emails. That means consistently providing value in every communication, whether that is in the form of coupons or insider deals, or just relevant and interesting articles. The one true way to keep those fingers off that unsubscribe button is to respect and engage your list member.