How Zack Morris Can Help Reduce Your Unsubscribes

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Author Bio

Greg Zakowicz is a senior commerce marketing analyst at Bronto Software, a leading cloud-based commerce marketing automation platform provider and Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) company. With more than 10 years of experience in email, mobile and social media marketing, Zakowicz knows the retail industry and its challenges, staying on top of the latest trends by leveraging deep insight into the marketing spectrum. His subject matter expertise stems from his experience in providing commerce marketers — including numerous Internet Retailer Top 1000 clients — with in-depth analysis of their marketing programs, recommendations for improvement, best practice support and implementation guidance and execution. Zakowicz is a frequent webinar speaker and presenter at ecommerce events, such as IRCE, eTail West, eTail Canada, Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Multichannel Merchant, ClickZ and Power Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. Follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing.

Zakowicz is a frequent webinar speaker and presenter at ecommerce events, such as Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Power Retail and Inside Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing.
TimeoutLet’s face it. Zack Morris was cool then, and he is still cool today. One trick that made him so cool was the fact he could call a timeout and pause life. While you can’t pause life, you do have the ability to harness your inner Zack Morris while optimizing your email program.

Companies are concerned about unsubscribes and contact loss. This is why clients continually ask me how often they should send, or if they are sending too much. They are worried about over-mailing and creating email fatigue among subscribers. However, along with an elevated send cadence and unsubscribes often comes elevated revenue. This creates a dilemma, which companies often struggle to solve.

Just because a subscriber decides they are going to unsubscribe does not mean that is what they WANT to do. They often don’t have a choice because they are commonly faced with one of two options: unsubscribe or continue being part of an email program that they think is over-mailing them. While some brands do offer step-down options, such as choosing to receive a certain number of messages per week/month, not all companies have the ability to manage this.

One tactic that can be employed, even for those brands that do offer step-down options, is a pause, or mute, option. This simply allows subscribers to choose to stop receiving an email for a specific period of time, say 30 days. This way, subscribers can avoid the onslaught of unwanted emails without unsubscribing altogether. It’s the email equivalent of a Zack Morris timeout.

This is a tactic I have rarely seen executed in the email world, but it can be quite powerful, especially for those who send on a much more aggressive cadence, such as sending daily. A pause option can offer subscribers a much-needed break from the day-to-day emails they are receiving.

While more developed email programs have dedicated messaging for those who recently made a purchase, not all do. This means that contacts who recently made a purchase traditionally get put right back into the marketing stream. These messages can be quite irrelevant for these subscribers at this point, which can create frustration and lead to unsubscribes, but these purchasers may be perfect candidates for a pause strategy. It allows them to not receive “irrelevant” emails while they enjoy their recent purchase offline. They can then be added back into the marketing mix at a time when these emails may make more of an impact.

You can advertise this option in a variety of places, such as on the unsubscribe page, manage preferences page and/or in your emails themselves. The example below offers a humorous way to communicate this option. It appeared at the bottom of the message.

Email Preferences

Recognizing one size does not always fit all, consider offering a pause option for different time periods, such as 14 and 30 days. The best thing about using this tactic is that no overly complex marketing calendar needs to be maintained. It can be automated with little or no effort, which is great for the busy marketer or resource-stretched team.

Using a pause tactic can also reinvigorate newly un-paused subscribers, similar to when subscribers initially sign up for emails. Consider sending a dedicated email to newly un-paused subscribers, re-introducing the email program and maybe even offering a welcome back incentive.

So there you have it. An easy-to-deploy tactic that can help control unsubscribes, reinvigorate subscribers, and provide an extra layer of value for your audience. Each customer is like your Kelly Kapowski. Don’t let her break up with you. Instead, let her keep your varsity jacket in her closet until she is ready to wear it again. Go Bayside!