Don’t Be in the Business of Manipulating Your Subscribers



Though customer-centric practices are more common than ever, brand-centric thinking is still pervasive in the email marketing industry. Because of this, email marketers must focus special attention to ensuring they are not using manipulative email tactics that are counter-intuitive to subscriber-focused marketing programs.

When we consider manipulative practices, we first typically think of clickbait headlines. But what are some of the less obvious, but equally insidious infractions?

  1. Your brand requires all customers to receive marketing emails. Brands that auto-subscribe all customers to marketing emails run this risk of higher spam complaints and annoying customers to the point of no longer interacting with your brand. Brands should consider that every one of your customers or prospects don’t necessarily want to receive your emails, and will likely delete or unsubscribe from them, hurting overall deliverability. So always provide clear and varied opt-in options to new and current subscribers.

  2. Your language is passive aggressive. There is nothing more pompous than implying someone is stupid if they aren’t interested in your emails. Shaming prospects and customers into opting-in to gated content is not a great way to build a relationship. Even worse is shaming subscribers who are opting-out. Build your brand by using positive language to encourage new subscribers and let those uninterested go without conflict.

  3. Your subject line is very misleading. The goal of your subject line is to attract subscribers to your email, but misleading subject lines lead to reader’s remorse and a loss of trust. Instead of trying to be overly clever attempting to increase open clicks, consider using a descriptive subject line to attract interested subscribers. Your subject line should super-serve your subscribers by giving them what they want, unlike vague subject lines that could be used by any brand.

  4. Your unsubscribe link is impossible to find. According to the Online Trust Alliance’s 2017 Email Marketing & Unsubscribe Audit, only 76% of the top 200 e-commerce sites used “clear and conspicuous” unsubscribe links in their emails. Every brand should make their unsubscribe buttons 100% visible to protect against spam complaints from frustrated subscribers. While it’s very easy to sign up for emails, many consumers find it difficult to unsubscribe, which damages overall deliverability. Ensure your emails are outfitted with one or two-click unsubscribe processes to keep people happy – even the ones who are leaving. As you’re drafting your next email, embrace subscriber-centricity by using respectful messaging and user-friendly tactics to encourage prospective and current subscribers to remain loyal to your brand. Positive and consistent engagement are keys to in-boxing and ROI. And that’s why we do it, right?