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Exclusive Poll Results: Email Opt-in Practices Following an Online Purchase

Exclusive Poll Results: Email Opt-in Practices Following an Online Purchase

The following are the results of a recent poll by Marketing Democracy and Only Influencers: what are marketers opt-in practices following an Online Purchase: 

As I wrote recently in my imediaconnection.com column, the subject of email subscriber acquisition has begun to lose the stigma that has surrounded it in polite conversation among email marketers and the vendors with whom they work.  At Bill’s recent Email Innovations Summit in Las Vegas the topic was front and center in many of the panel discussions and email marketer presentations.  Which is all for the good because the importance of maintaining the growth of one's an email subscriber database is greater than ever for email marketers.  With flat or declining open rates, the only way to grow your business is to grow your subscriber list.  And to grow it in a way that doesn’t have negative consequences on inbox delivery or worse.

During a recent conversation with a CEO friend of mine, the question arose as to how marketers deal with the email addresses they acquire during the course of an online purchase.  These would be people who have not previously opted in to the brand’s email list, nor made a previous purchase.  My CEO friend vehemently insisted that the vast majority of brands put those email addresses into their subscriber database and start mailing to them just as if they had actually subscribed to receive emails from that brand (through the home page, a pop-up box, etc.).  Just as vehemently, I argued that most marketers would not place those email addresses into their databases unless asked for and received an opt-in during the purchase process.

When I broached the topic with Bill he suggested that Only Influencers and Marketing Democracy conduct a poll among email marketers to learn exactly how they do handle these email addresses, and what procedures they follow as part of the purchase  We asked respondents tll us, “Which of the following steps do you take with a new customer making an online purchase at your website?”  The four possible responses were: 

  1. Include a pre-checked box that automatically opts them in to receive promotional emails and offers unless they uncheck the box. If they uncheck they receive no further emails other than transactional emails.
  2. Include a box (or radio button) allowing them to opt-in to receive promotional emails and offers if they check the box. If they don't opt-in they receive no further emails other than transactional emails.
  3. Skip the whole opt-in part and, since you now have his or her email, put them into your email marketing database and start mailing them.
  4. Other

When the poll was finished and the results were in, one thing was immediately clear.

I was right.

poll marketingdemocracy

Just over 40% of marketers who answered the question responded that they ask for an explicit opt-in during check-out and would not add them to the list without getting that.  Another 27% have a pre-checked box which, if left alone, will opt that customer into their email program.  So 2/3’s of the email marketers who responded to the poll would not add the new customer to their email marketing database without either an explicit (I checked the box) or implicit (I didn’t uncheck the box) opt-in to receive emails.  Less than a third take the email address and simply drop it into their email program.  And the 4 % who checked “other”?  They are actually very close to the 27% of implicit opt-in marketers.  In those cases, and email opt-in is included in the Terms & Conditions a customer is asked to agree to prior to a purchase.    Let’s face it, no one actually reads the T&C’s except your lawyers.

It would be an interesting experiment to examine the engagement patterns of the new email “subscribers” for each of the three approaches in our poll.  Common sense would tell us that there would be a higher incidence of complaints and opt-outs among those in the “Skip the whole opt-in part” group than in the other two.  And that the lowest incidence of complaints and opt-outs would be among the group that explicitly opt-in, with the last group falling somewhere between those two.  That’s certainly what your delivery teams and the ISPs would have you believe.  What it really comes down to is the old quality vs. quantity debate.  Those marketers who put all the new customers’ email addresses into their database are playing the quantity game, while those asking for the explicit opt-in are going for quality.  If higher inbox delivery of your campaigns is your goal (and it should be), it’s always a safer bet to go for quality over quantity.  Quality at scale requires more work, after all.

But you didn’t get into email marketing because it’s easy, right?

Title: Exclusive Poll Results: Opt-in Practices Following an Online Purchase
by
About: Email Marketing Poll Results
Audience: Email Marketers
Publisher: OnlyInfluencers.com
Copyright 2017, Only Influencers, LLC and Marketing Democracy
 

Comments 2

Guest - Kay Kerman on Wednesday, 03 May 2017 14:39

Thanks for the confirmation, Chris! Always good to know that what we've (i.e., the email marketer) been known to be the case has now been proven.

Thanks for the confirmation, Chris! Always good to know that what we've (i.e., the email marketer) been known to be the case has now been proven.
David Carpio on Thursday, 04 May 2017 18:14

Good article and findings! Thanks Chris!

One question came to mind while reading through the results: would either of the better quality groups (41% unchecked or 27% pre-checked groups) be more likely to complain versus the passive, potentially less-qualitative group (no check box presented)?

I've seen past instances where our most engaged users (high openers/clickers) also registered the highest percentage of complaints compared to other groupings/segments. Curious if there's any data on that or if anyone else has seen similar things.

Good article and findings! Thanks Chris! One question came to mind while reading through the results: would either of the better quality groups (41% unchecked or 27% pre-checked groups) be more likely to complain versus the passive, potentially less-qualitative group (no check box presented)? I've seen past instances where our most engaged users (high openers/clickers) also registered the highest percentage of complaints compared to other groupings/segments. Curious if there's any data on that or if anyone else has seen similar things.
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Guest
Monday, 24 July 2017

We know that email is a money-printing machine. (Flash to the hundreds of articles that quote the outrageous and unbeatable Return on Marketing Investment.) As I often say with clients and at conferences, “Why wouldn’t you stand in front of the email marketing machine and just put in all your money?”

List size is a metric that is ridiculous on its own. As every Email Marketer knows, it’s not about the size of the list, but the quality.

The battle over when to suppress users is age old, commonly fought between those who are focused on the size of the list, and those on the email side who understand that inactives hurt deliverability.

Your customer data is a goldmine of information just waiting to be discovered. You know that emails which reflect a customer's data are more relevant and likely to be acted on, but too many marketers stop at basics like name, gender or location.  

“The most important work in the vocabulary of advertising is TEST. Never stop testing and your advertising will never stop improving.”

David Ogilvy
Founder, Ogilvy and Mather
Considered the Father of Advertising

Sending an email marketing message is easy. But boosting bottom line performance from send-to-send -- that’s a little more difficult. The key to success here is testing.

If you’re not doing any performance testing, now’s the time to start. If you are already doing regular testing, commit to upping your game. Either way, here’s a quick walk through the process my team and I follow to help guide you.

Shown to be 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined, email remains a top priority for marketers across industries. Engaging users with relevant, personalized messaging is more important than ever when it comes to this essential channel.

However, recent research shows that even the top online retailers still struggle to implement the most basic of email campaigns. We studied the top 100 e-commerce companies in the U.S., tracked three email marketing strategies over the course of two weeks and analyzed the results.

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