Email marketing; do you allow for time-sensitive opt-outs?

May 11, 2022

How many emails does your company send? Do you have a product or service that you promote at particular times? I’d be surprised if you didn’t at least send a couple of emails per month to customers, ex-clients, newsletter sign-ups and so forth. 

Many companies will use the multiple holiday dates in the calendar to promote their products or service, perhaps by offering a specific ‘Father’s Day discount’, or ‘Valentines Day bundle’, but just how often are they taking their audience into consideration? What if 355 of your 500 newsletter sign ups find Valentine’s Day difficult, or annoying? What if 52 of your 100 ex-clients don’t have a father figure in their life that they want to ‘shower with masculine gifts’? What if it acts as a reminder for something they really want? You could be at risk of decreasing your user base. 

I love emails and I'm a sucker for a good subject line. I’ve bought many items I don’t really need because I've been sent a great email, with an even greater discount offer. But, I never knew how emotional it is, and how bombarded I’d feel, to receive multiple emails during an already difficult time; Mother’s Day. 

Since the pandemic, email marketing has risen, with more and more people shopping online. Promotional materials that used to be brief are often now a multi-email marketing campaign spanning over a few weeks, or sometimes more, leading up to the ‘big event’. Black Friday, which used to be a singular shopping day of pre-Christmas deals, now often starts a whole month early, and lasts a couple of weeks after.

Although this has been happening for several years, I got to the end of my tether with it a few years back. I had signed up to receive emails from a new brand I really liked the look of on instagram. I received a few nice emails over the course of a few months, and then Mother’s Day was approaching. I couldn’t believe how many emails I was receiving about one, singular day. Not only did they come in thick and fast, but the emails were showered in quotes that were so irrelevant to me; ‘She’s special. You need to treat your mother this Mother’s Day.’ ‘Why not get your mum this deluxe bundle?’, and ‘SHE DESERVES IT’. So I contacted them to share my two cents. Not my place? Perhaps. But, I was polite, and tried to educate rather than show just how bitter I felt. It was hard to admit that these emails made me feel low because in truth I was envious of people that were going to be celebrating this day. I wanted to be that recipient who bought the gift - but I wasn’t. I wasn’t the right audience. 

They were brilliant about it, they were sensitive to my thought process and explained that they were a small team who didn’t yet have the capacity to take these things into consideration and make amends to mass marketing campaigns, but when they expanded they’d act upon it. The very next year, I received an opt-out email from them. It was a simple, no muss-no fuss email asking the recipient ‘Do you want to opt-out of Mother’s Day emails? Click below to update your preferences. You’ll still be signed up to receive our general marketing emails and promotions.’ I instantly clicked yes, and saved myself from any emotional reactions to the remainder of the marketing campaign. They could continue to send their promotional emails to the rest of their user base who’d make use of the discount, and i’d still receive future emails which were more relevant to me.  

I have noticed over the last couple of years that more and more brands are taking the opportunity to retain and value their customers by giving people the opportunity to opt-out of things that they may be sensitive to. This doesn’t just have to be around the days designed to celebrate the ones we love, but periods of time that can simply be triggering for whatever reason. A great example is Thortful, who couldn’t be more thoughtful. When you sign up to their marketing, you get the chance to select things you don’t want to hear about. These small things can make such a huge difference. I certainly value brands more who take the time to consider the fact their audience probably have very different email preferences. 

Not only is offering your subscribers the chance to opt-out of specific emails kind, but it is also smart - as it could also prevent them from unsubscribing from all of your marketing materials. It is, in my opinion, a great customer retention tool. 


Written by India Gilling, Senior Account Manager at ISQ Crowdfunding

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