Increase Retention with Opt-downs Instead of Opt-outs

You’ve spent a lot of time and expense adding customers to your email list. Don’t lose them by not providing subscription alternatives when some inevitably consider whether or not to opt out.

Consumers who subscribe to emails receive an average of 416 commercial messages every month.[1] That’s almost 35 per day! Surprisingly, 52% of those consumers report that they are receiving about the right amount of promotional email—but 43% say it’s too much.[2]

Opt-Down - How many

And many of these customers are increasingly opting-out of your lists and therefore no longer receiving your messages.

In 2013, 35% of consumers reported frequency as the primary reason for unsubscribing from a brand’s email. That’s up from 31% in 2012.[3]

Opt-Down - Unsubscribes

So what can you do to help decrease unsubscribes? One option is to let your customers opt down instead of opting out.

Currently, 20% of marketers contact an address on their list 4-6 times per month, while 35% contact them just 2-3 times monthly.[4] Why not let your customers choose the frequency that’s right for them? Let them opt-down instead of opt-out. Seems straightforward, but only 30% of marketers do that now[5], and they’re paying the price with a shrinking subscriber list.

Yet 20% of consumers say they would “always” choose to opt down, and another 25% say they sometimes would.[6] That means nearly one half of your customers who are clicking “unsubscribe” would likely consider another option, if given the choice.

Opt Down - Would you

Besides choosing how frequently they receive your emails, another option you can present to your customers is to let them “take a break” and temporarily turn off your emails altogether; your communications will automatically turn back on in a pre-selected amount of time.

Not only can giving your customers a choice (opt-down, take a break, etc.) reduce unsubscribes, but it also can increase your read rate. For those who message subscribers less than weekly, the rate was 26%; for those who messaged weekly or more often, the read rate was only 20%.[7]

Take the time to build preferences into your subscription and opt-out processes—it can make a big difference to both subscriber growth and your attrition rate in the months ahead.


[1] ReturnPath “The Inbox Is a Battlefield [Infographic]” (2013)
[2] Acxiom “Email Marketing and Mobile Devices: A Survey of Consumer Habits and Perceptions” (2013)
[3] BlueHornet “2013 Consumer Views of Email Marketing” (2013)
[4] DMA “National Client Email Report” (2013)
[5] Experian “2013 Email Market Study” (2014)
[6] BlueHornet “2013 Consumer Views of Email Marketing” (2013)
[7] Experian “2013 Email Market Study” (2014)