‘Tis the Season to Unsubscribe

Josh Stauffer | Dec 07, 2017

If you have any brand affinity at all, you’ve probably subscribed to notifications from the brands you love. It’s just as likely that this show of affection has been rewarded in recent weeks with a growing barrage of seasonal e-blasts.

That helpful heads-up from many retailers is often followed by even more well-intended reminders of upcoming sales, second and third missives related to those sales, and, of course, announcements of even better sales once the initial sale passes. When these seasonal messages combine with your regular inbox flow, it threatens to become a tsunami of messaging no one can easily process. You aren’t alone if your response is to engage in mass deletions of unopened mail or, as the frustration builds, hitting “unsubscribe” in a frustrated attempt to stem the flow.

An Epic Battle for Attention

Regardless, what starts out as marketing strategy at one brand combines to form an abusive marketing trend with collateral damage: Your message can be lost to email-marketing fatigue as it is lumped in with the worst offenders.

How to Rise Above the Inbox Clutter

For B2B companies communicating during this time of year, it’s a serious challenge. Some simply take to the proverbial hills like the Grinch and let the B2C brands slug it out until the start of the new year. Others stick with it and power through the holidays, executing on their marketing plan with the understanding that the clamor will diminish their efforts.

If you are among the latter group, here’s some advice to help you avoid the potential collateral damage these other brands might cause you.

  1. Be mindful, concise and helpful. No one needs four email communications from you in a single day, ever. That type of communication strategy will spend your brand equity faster than you could ever build—or rebuild—it. Remember, right now your target has the least amount of patience for this channel of communication than at any other time of the year. As effective as email is the other 11 months of the year, consider relying more heavily on social posts for the month of December. Posts are less invasive and allow users to interact when they are comfortable, rather than on your email schedule.
  2. Let them opt out easily. If you aren’t passing through opt-out functions to your marketing automation system and instead simply display a “thank you” page in response to each “unsubscribe” …how do we put this…you’re doing it wrong. There’s no need to aggravate a soon-to-be former subscriber further by engaging them with surveys or forcing them through a prolonged, multistep exit to discourage them from completing the process. Doing so risks a simple “no, thank you” erupting into heated and highly visible complaints on your social media channels.
  3. Test drive your unsubscribe process. The best way to understand the pain points that customers have with your email marketing is to subscribe and then opt out. When auditing our clients’ marketing communications, we often find this exercise uncovers serious trouble spots that are counterproductive to a successful user journey.

The Struggle Is Real

So far, we’re only a few weeks into the holiday season, and I’ve personally unsubscribed from nine brands I used to trust with my email address. Banana Republic, I love you, but my patience is wearing thin! I’m on pace to set a record for unsubscribing this year. How about you? Or, maybe a better question is, “How about your audience?”

Josh Stauffer

An optimistic believer in the transformative power of digital on the landscape of B2B marketing, Josh brings over a decade of agency experience to his role as CEO and President of Blue Flame Thinking. He has the hands-on experience of a former programmer mixed with the sharp instincts of a dedicated client partner. Both of which help him focus the agency, and its relationships, toward the future. Josh started making things at a very early age. His formative years were filled with hours of sketching, carving, building, painting and traveling.

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