Don’t Lose a Prospect When They Get Hot

Update profile, not just unsubscribeI recently changed jobs and my primary work email address and needed to move many of my various newsletter subscriptions that were still relevant to my new email account. Simple enough, right?

Changing My Email Address

I went through dozens of recent email and every one of them had an unsubscribe or “change email Yourpreferences” link at the bottom of the form. It’s good to see CAN/SPAM compliance is alive and well.

Right away I saw this was turning into more work than I originally planned. It wasn’t going to be easy to change my email address for the newsletters I wanted to continue to receive. Here’s what I found:

  • Most of my email subscriptions only had an unsubscribe link that in one click removed me from the email list. Very useful if I no longer want the emails, not so good if I just want to change my email address.
  • Some of the emails had a “change preferences” link. This link, as expected, usually sent me to an unsubscribe form. Butmost of the email unsubscribe forms didn’t allow me to change my email address. They merely allowed me to opt out of the emails, and, if I was in the mood, provide some feedback on why I was leaving.
  • One newsletter said “To update your email address or newsletter preferences or unsubscribe, click here.” When I clicked I was immediately unsubscribed. What a tease.

These weren’t fly by night companies, it included large companies that sell software services and even a significant social media marketing player.

The Result

Most of the time I just deleted my subscription and moved on, ending my relationship with the company. Only a few did I care enough to go back to the web site and resubscribe, although if I get tons of new prospect drip emails all over again I may cancel some of these.

A Hot Prospect Lost?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, people typically change employers every 4.6 years. It seems that most email marketers are ignoring this, they seem to think it is OK to end your relationship with prospects every 5 years.

Why is this such a problem?

A change in companies can suddenly make a cold prospect hot.

Your prospect may have really wanted to implement your products or services, but maybe they worked at a laggard employer and couldn’t make progress. This may be why they left. In their new job they may be in a position to buy, but you made them cancel their email subscription, ending your relationship.

If they are a hot prospect, they may be ready to buy as soon as they’re settled at their new company. But if your competitor allowed them to change their email subscription and you didn’t, you may be forgotten. Even if you eventually get the sale you’ll never really know where the lead came from. Not a disaster, but not good marketing.

No Excuses

Email service providers generally make it really easy to set up forms that allow people to update their profile information. Some providers, such as MailChimp, allow you to use the same form for signing up for a newsletter and updating a subscriber profile. Zero extra work, just add a “update profile” link at the bottom of your emails.

Lessons learned

  1. Always have a “change email preferences” link at the bottom of your marketing emails. If you want to allow people to opt-out in one click go ahead and add an “unsubscribe” link too. This is friendly, but CAN/SPAM compliance only requires that opting out of email is easy, not one click.
  2. Be sure to allow subscribers to change their email address to continue the relationship.
  3. Ask people why they are leaving. People like to know you care. This is very valuable feedback to have, it is good to know whether an unsubscriber is just not a prospect or is there something about your communications that aren’t working.

Have more questions?

Please contact us and let us help.

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