Unsubscribing—making sure that it works can work for you too | ACMA


04 September, 2013 10:54 AM


Unsubscribing—making sure that it works can work for you too

By Editor

How can you make your electronic marketing list work better for you?

This is an important question for any business (and especially SME) that wants to sustain continued growth and success. Almost as important as finding effective ways to add to your marketing list, having an easy and operational way to remove customers when they ask you to will not only improve the quality of your mailing list, it will also help you to comply with the Spam Act. Plus, it means you’re not annoying customers (that may well come back to you in the future) by sending them messages they’ve told you they don’t want.

“Their unsubscribe is not working! I’ve tried to remove myself from this mailing list three times now. Tell them to fix the unsubscribe as their spam is very frequent and very annoying.”

This is what we’re hearing

At least half of the complaints we receive refer to problems with the sender’s unsubscribe process; whether it involves a message that doesn’t contain an unsubscribe facility or a consumer continuing to receive messages after trying to unsubscribe (often many times). Information provided by complainants makes it clear that people who keep getting messages that they don’t want, end up frustrated (and worse) at the business responsible for sending them. Your chance of making a sale to these people in the future plummets very quickly to zero.

You’d probably be surprised at how many complaints contain statements similar to this (lots), and in fact, there are plenty more that wouldn’t be considered suitable for publication in this forum! You’d also be surprised at how many complainants tell us that they’ve already contacted the e-marketer (often on several occasions) before they decide to complain to us, and how regularly those e-marketers choose to ignore them. (And you’d be absolutely shocked how many times some e-marketers ignore the ACMA before they realise that something’s not right!) One simple suggestion we have for you is this – if a customer (or the ACMA) tells you that there appears to be a problem with your unsubscribe facility, LISTEN TO THEM. In fact, you should probably thank them for taking the time to help you audit your systems!

In our experience, it’s unlikely that someone will make the effort to tell you about a problem if it didn’t actually happen (occasionally they might be wrong, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t genuine). And if multiple people are telling you the same thing, then you should definitely start listening. What could be turned into a positive experience with a business that listens can very quickly become a horror story. And considering how ready these people are to tell us about their annoyance, imagine what they are saying to their friends, families and other potential customers.

“This is a joke! What do I need to do to get off this spam list? I’ve unsubscribed so many times it’s not funny. Seriously, how hard can it be to take someone of a list?”

Just keep an eye on it

Whether you manage your marketing yourself, or hire others to do it, it makes sense for you to regularly check that your unsubscribe function is working properly. It can save you a lot of hassle and doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time either. Here are some easy steps you can take to make sure people are not receiving unwanted messages:

  • Create an account, or sign up to receive messages from your business.
  • When you receive a message, follow the instructions provided to stop the messages.
  • While following the directions in the message, think to yourself ‘are these instructions clear and easy to follow?’
  • Keep a record of when you test the unsubscribe process and what the outcomes were.

Once you have followed these steps, ask yourself these questions:

  • Did you encounter an error or error message when using the unsubscribe feature?
  • Did you receive messages after you had tried to stop them?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, your customers are probably experiencing the same thing. If this happens, you need to make a note of the error and find out why it is happening. If you hire another business for your marketing, bring it to its attention and get it to fix the problem.

Make sure that you follow these steps regularly so you know if there is a problem before it affects your customers and hurts your business’ reputation.

Things to remember about your unsubscribe facility

It’s important to remember that you need to make it easy for people to stop receiving messages from your business. Some important things to remember are:

  • The instructions for how a person can stop receiving your messages must be clear and obvious.
  • A request to unsubscribe made on the phone, by email, in a web form etc must be treated as if it was made using the facility you provide in your message.
  • If a customer asks you to stop sending them messages, you must stop sending these, and remove their address from your mailing list, within five working days.
  • A process to stop receiving messages must be provided at low cost, or no cost, to the customer.

By taking a little time to consider how your business deals with a customer’s request to stop getting messages, and by regularly checking that your unsubscribe function works, you can help maintain your reputation in the marketplace. And remember, it doesn’t matter whether you send the messages yourself, or whether a third party does it for you; it’s your business’ name and reputation attached to the messages.