Give the Customer a Sense of Control

Just now, within a span of 15 minutes, I read one article (on the upcoming book “Zero Inbox”) that claimed people feel like they lack control over their email inbox, to another on marketing trends that claimed people have control over the inbox because email is permission-based.

Both statements come through industry experts.

So which is it? Do people have control over their email or not?

I think it’s both, so the problem lies in trying to make a blanket statement. I have control over certain emails, I don’t have control over others. For example, I hesitate to ever comment on a Facebook item because I know I’ll get an email every single time someone else’s comments on it. That is within my power to change. I change my settings, I change my email experience. (I just haven’t done it yet.)

On the other hand, I get countless emails from companies I’ve never heard from or done business with, or marketers that make it
impossible to unsubscribe. I have no control over many of these. I try to unsubscribe, and I’m sometimes successful, but for every email I manage to stop in its tracks, it seems another takes its place in my precious inbox. It’s like the “nature abhors a vacuum” theory, only in this case it’s not blackberry bushes or dandelions making themselves at home in that empty spot, it’s spam.

What does this mean to you as an email marketer striving to adhere to best practices for email marketing? I’ll tell you one thing, the companies that give customers control are going to be better off.

Maybe it’s not giving them complete control, but even if at signup you let them know you value them and give them choices, that would go a long ways. Having a preference center, for example, to let them choose the types and frequencies of email creates good will as the customer realizes you’re flexible, that it’s not a “my way or the highway” type relationship.

Making it easy to unsubscribe gives them control too. Maybe you just got a knot in your stomach reading those words, “making it easy to unsubscribe,” but if they don’t want to hear from you anway, why would you make it hard for them to opt out?

Best practices for email marketing must include relevance, as we’ve said over and over. And giving your subscriber or customer some control over the emails they receive from you is part of that relevance. You can’t be relevant if you’re showing up too often, right? Or when they’ve lost interst in what you’re selling?

Need help knowing how much control to give up? Turn to ClickMail.


Published On: July 2nd, 2010Categories: Email marketing best practices

About the Author: Jared LaRock

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