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The “opt in” straddle

What do you do when a new customer makes a purchase? Do you automatically check that box and make the customer remove the checkmark? You know the box I mean—the one that “opts in” to future marketing e-mails. Some marketers say they’d rather be known for respecting their customers’ privacy, so they don’t check that box. Aggressive marketers check the box and try to hide it at the bottom of the screen in small print so that the busy shopper doesn’t notice it and uncheck it. What do you do?


It’s a difficult choice.
Those good-hearted privacy-respecting marketers are loved by their customers, but there are a lot fewer of them,
because their customers rarely check the box themselves. Those marketers have very short mailing lists.
Those aggressive marketers that automatically check the box get large mailing lists, but also many unhappy customers who have no idea why they are getting this e-mail—they unsubscribe. And they may not have a warm feeling for the company that sent them what they consider to be spam.
Live Nation, a leading Broadway show and concert event company, takes a middle ground, by automatically checking the box, but sending a gentle introductory e-mail to start. That “welcome” e-mail stresses the value of receiving future e-mails and provides an easy way to opt out. Guess what? Linda Villwock, Live Nation’s head of Internet marketing, reports they get very few opt outs. Why?
First, the welcome e-mail is sent quickly after the purchase, when customers still remember why you’re allowed to contact them. More importantly, that e-mail explains the benefits of being on Live Nation’s mailing list. Why does this work better than explaining everything up front?
Perhaps this success is explained by the moment of purchase not being the best time to ask the “opt in” question. People are focused on what they are trying to do—purchase. So it’s easy to sneak something by them. But it’s wrong, because that will backfire. What Live Nation does is to sneak that first opt-in by them, but then openly explain what they did and ask if it was OK—at a later time when the customer can really make a good decision on that separate question that has nothing to do with the original purchase.
Your welcome e-mail is the single most-opened piece of e-mail you’ll ever send—75 percent of recipients open it. However, according to research firm Marketing Sherpa, Live Nation is part of just 48 percent of companies that even send a welcome e-mail for an “opt in.” Even fewer, only 10 percent, go further by sending a special offer in that welcome e-mail, according to Brian Eisenberg.
If your company pays attention to that welcome e-mail, you’ll form more relationships with your customers, just the way Live Nation has.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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