Earlier this year, Google announced their email unsubscribe feature that would allow users to more easily opt out of email newsletters. The feature, in actuality, isn’t new. It had been updated and moved to the top of email newsletters in order to make it easier to use. Google described it as a “win for everyone” including email marketers. Conversely, experts predicted mass opt outs and an overall negative effect on email marketing. It appears, however, that after a few months of use, the future of email marketing isn’t as bleak as once believed.
The reality for retailers
Despite the gloomy outlook, Google’s unsubscribe button has had a negligible effect on the unsubscribe rate of email newsletters thus far. The predictions of doom and gloom ultimately showed that unsubscription rates, though important, are by and large overvalued when it comes to measuring the success of email newsletters.
The fact is, a large number of users don’t unsubscribe because they either ignore your newsletters completely, or worse, filter them out as spam. Solely measuring opt out rates instead of evaluating a variety of metrics will assuredly give a slanted view on campaign effectiveness. Metrics like open rates, click-through rates, bounce rates, and purchase conversion rates are key to fully understanding how your email campaigns are functioning.
Contrary to initial sentiments, Google’s unsubscribe button can actually be more help than hindrance for retail newsletters. By making it easier for subscribers to opt out, retailers can gain a clearer picture of who among their subscribers engages with the email campaigns. In addition, the opt out feature reduces the chances of being marked as spam, an option that was typically easier to apply than opting out.
Google’s email opt out button has effectively exposed the need for email marketing campaigns that are more relevant and useful.
What should retailers do?
The unsubscribe button merely reinforces what retailers should have been doing all along with their email campaigns. Retailers who follow best practices with their campaigns will likely see no substantial downturn.
Personalization strategies are key to bringing value to recipients. Personalized coupons and personalized merchandise increase the likelihood of boosting not only email engagement but also direct sales by providing value specific to individual customers. On the other hand, repetitive or generic content leads to fatigue and eventual churn.
Featuring merchandise in the email newsletters is an impactful way to provide fresh personalized content and has been proven to increase subscriber engagement along with conversion and sales. Just like physical store windows feature a shop’s best and newest items, your email campaigns need to provide a real-time view of your current merchandise. Taking it a step further, algorithmic merchandising makes it possible to merchandise emails with an unprecedented level of personalization, accounting for a user’s geography and shipping constraints and their prior purchase history, as well as real-time inventory and seasonal trends. It’s the equivalent of a store window that changes every time someone new takes a look. Email newsletters that use algorithmic merchandising far outpace editorially curated newsletters in terms of subscriber engagement, click-through rates, and revenue.
Finally, user control is an important yet overlooked part of personalization. A lot of users unsubscribe from emails simply because they lack alternatives. Giving subscribers the means to control options like email frequency and types of email received can increase engagement while reducing opt out rates. For example, Groupon gives its customers an option to switch to weekly schedule instead of daily schedule before they fully opt out.
The idea that email marketing will ever suffer a large decrease in effectiveness from any single feature or upgrade is unrealistic. Email marketing continues to be the most effective form of online retail marketing. However, the days of “batch and blast” are long gone; it’s imperative that retail email marketers start making investments into more algorithmic and personalized email marketing strategies.