We tend to think of personalized marketing as tailoring content to match what customers want to receive. They have shopped for sweatshirts in the past? Let’s send them emails with dynamic content featuring our best-selling sweatshirts. They used an in-app promo code? Let’s send push notifications since they’re clearly active mobile app users.
On the other side of the same coin, however, is an additional layer of potential personalization—what they don’t want to receive. You, as a marketer, know your segments. You can send Gen-Z marketing messages featuring straight-leg jeans, while you save the skinny jean content for your Millennials. Yeah, yeah—been there, done that.
But, what if you reframe this example? Instead of thinking about tailoring to a specific audience, think about how the same messages are actually tailored to your other audiences. By sending straight-leg jeans to only Gen-Z, you’re not sending that content to audiences that may not be interested.
Now, go one step further. Rather than guessing what certain customers may or may not be interested in (some Millennials like straight-leg jeans), what if you just asked them what content they no longer wanted to receive? It’s that easy. This is how providing personalized opt-outs for content types can create a highly-individualized customer experience.
Different from Standard Opt-Outs
You might be thinking, “yeah, no duh, you legally have to include unsubscribe options when you send marketing messages. This is old news.” But, this kind of opt-out is different. Sure, some email unsubscribes provide the option of selecting which content the customer wants to receive, but this is after they’ve already made the decision to unsubscribe from all email communications.
Personalized opt outs are a different concept completely, the most common type being the holiday-themed opt out.
Mother’s Day is a great example of a holiday that, while a cute family day for some, could be incredibly painful for those in complicated relationships with their mothers, those who have lost mothers, those who were hoping to be a mother, etc. Everyone is dealing with their own struggles. So, rather than inundate customers with content that may create a negative attitude towards your brand, ask if they’re interested in receiving the content.
Blue Bottle, a coffee retailer, sent an email before both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Without bringing up anything that may be hurtful, they simply offered, with a clear CTA, the option to not receive any emails related to these holidays.
Blue Bottle lets customers opt out, with a clear CTA, but reassures them at the same time that they’ll continue to receive content that isn’t related to Mother’s or Father’s Day. Giving customers a holiday opt-out shows that your brand cares and wants every interaction to be as positive as possible.
Uncommon Goods, an online retailer, also gave customers the option to opt-out of sensitive emails related to Father’s Day. Not only that, but they provided additional content to help customers during this difficult time.
Uncommon Goods presents a clear CTA at the top, giving customers the immediate option to opt out of all future Father’s Day emails. When continuing to scroll, however, customers are given the option to sign up for a virtual class about love and loss. It’s heartfelt, it’s designed to help, and it’s highly personalized.
But, brands need to be careful about how they design these personalized opt-outs because they can backfire—and have.
When Personalized Opt-Outs Could Do More Harm
Sending these more personal, sensitive emails can be tricky because the opt–out email itself could be very triggering and alienating in certain circumstances. With multiple brands now hopping on this personalized opt-out bandwagon, customers could now receive multiple emails mentioning a “hard time.” As highlighted in the Independent, “[A] Twitter user told me that the opt-out emails ‘probably started for the right reasons’ but now they find it a ‘constant reminder of a day they would rather keep very low-key.'”
If customers would rather not bring attention to their difficult situations, being reminded of it constantly in their inbox could create a negative relationship with the brands who send them. A balance needs to be struck.
In the future, rather than seeing these opt-outs with deep, emotional copy, maybe they’ll be more straightforward. For example, just a short and sweet “Do you want to opt-out of Mother’s Day content?” Or, another option would be to ask these questions as soon as a customer signs up for email. Send a quick checklist in your welcome email asking which content they do and do not want to receive, such as which holidays they’d like to see content for. This way, you don’t have to ask again and the customer isn’t triggered every time a holiday rolls around.
As a brand you have to constantly stay ahead of the curve to make sure you’re not becoming a part of a problem.
What’s Next for Personalized Opt-Outs?
Being on the cusp of new trends is paramount if you want to avoid having your brand become part of the noise. So, how can your brand take personalized opt-outs further into new, unexplored territory?
Think about all channels. We’ve seen an uptick in personalized opt-outs via email, but, as a consumer, if I were to opt out of email communications around a specific event, I’d wonder about the other ways a brand can reach me. If I opt out of Father’s Day emails, will I still get Father’s Day push notifications? Texts? If you opt-out on one channel, you should be able to opt-out everywhere. A cross-channel opt-out would be the ultimate level of personalization, building a 360-degree view of an individual customer.
To learn more about individualized cross-channel marketing strategies, and how Iterable can help, schedule a demo today.