Over-the-top newsletter list hygiene: “Do us a favor and unsubscribe”

by | Feb 16, 2011 | Writing Matters Blog | 0 comments

As a long-time newsletter publisher, I am familiar with the reasons to “thin the herd” of subscribers who aren’t reading the newsletter or responding to offers. A clean e-mail list means:

  • Fewer spam complaints or bounces
  • Accurate open and click-through rates
  • The opportunity to focus on subscribers who will convert to sales or take action

But can e-mail list hygiene go too far?  Last week, I was told I was costing a newsletter money and asked to either start reading or opt out. Take a look at the e-mail I got from “ABCD Organization” (not the real name…)

From: ABCD
To: leslie@ewriteonline.com
Subject: ABCD Newsletter Opt-Out. PLEASE READ!

Thank you for taking a minute to read this e-mail from the ABCD Organization (ABCD).

You are currently a subscriber to our monthly newsletter, ABCD eNews. If you are an ABCD member or an active reader of our newsletter, this e-mail doesn’t apply to you and I thank you for your support.

If you receive ABCD eNews but do not open and read it, I’d like to ask you for a favor. Please use the “Unsubscribe” button at the end of this e-mail to remove yourself from our mailing list. The ABCD is a 503(c)(6) not-for-profit membership organization with limited resources and we have to pay for each issue of ABCD eNews e-mailed each month. If you’re not reading what we send you, you’ll be doing us a favor by taking this opportunity to unsubscribe by clicking on the “Unsubscribe” button below:

Thank you and please contact me if you have any questions.

John Doe
(contact info omitted)

I think ABCD bungled this opportunity to reconnect with eNews subscribers, and the “do us a favor” wording is really off-putting. (Maybe ABCD could find a cheaper way to distribute the newsletter?)

You can send a list clean-up e-mail to subscribers without destroying your relationship with them, as Kipp Chambers of the SmallBusinessTechTips.com blog has explained in his excellent post “Panic: Email Marketing List Maintenance Done Right.” (His post is about Panic, a company that makes software for the Mac, not panic, the feeling that keeps you up at night.)

Chambers included this screenshot of the “We’re Cleaning Up Our List” e-mail he received from Panic (click to enlarge). It’s personal and friendly: “We love e-mailing our customers…” and “… click the sad button…” It invites subscribers to unsubscribe if they’re no longer interested in the newsletter content, but it doesn’t begrudge them a spot on the mailing list the way ABCD does.

As always, I am interested in your opinion. Post a comment or e-mail me to let me know what you think of ABCD’s opt-out e-mail and strategy. If you would be willing to share your e-mail list hygiene methods or your own “We’re Cleaning Up Our List” e-mail, that would be great.


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