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In Search of Relevance: The Unsubscriber

Having someone unsubscribe or opt out is an opportunity to not waste my precious resources talking to the wrong people.

04 April 2014

One of the most important tasks of a marketer is to take the company's secret sauce - its special blend of products, services, and personality - and find the customers to whom it matters most. This is the work of marketing relevance. And we have better tools than ever to do this work with social media, email marketing, and website analysis.

Which is how I found the modern world's newest form of rejection. The Unsubscribe.

That unsubscribe is a killer, isn't it? Rejection-in-an-email. I used to catch my breath a little bit every time it happened to me. But that's when I realized that the unsubscriber is doing me a favor. He (or she) is giving me notice that he doesn't find my product, service, message, or method of reaching him to be relevant. He is opting out. And rather than seeing it as a rejection, I now recognize it for what it really is: the opportunity to not waste my precious resources talking to the wrong people.

The unsubscriber is an honest soul. He doesn't want something, and he tells you so. How many people receive email after email from a company and simply delete it without reading it? The company is left with the impression that they have an interested, albeit slow-to-engage, person on the marketing list. The unsubscriber says "stop including me in your thinking! My habits and responses (or lack thereof) have absolutely nothing to teach you about your messages, products and services!"

Now I don't let it get to me when someone unsubscribes. I send them a silent thank you and continue building my marketing lists, searching for those who find my business's secret sauce an irresistible addition to their business diet. The search for marketing relevance is filled with unsubscribes and SPAM complaints (really? Like, I just met you at a trade show, you gave me your business card and told me to let you know when we were offering another class, I send you an email to let you know the schedule, and you make a SPAM complaint??). But that's OK. Because once those people are off the bus, I can focus my time and energy on the ones who stay on board for the ride.

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