Can’t you see I don’t like you? Why are you making this so hard?!? [a tale of unsubscribing]

[this post was originally featured on my LinkedIn Profile]


Lots of businesses think it should be hard (or rather, not easy) for users to get off their email list. I argue that if someone wants to leave, you should practically walk them to do the door so they don’t hurt your IP or domain reputation. This seems to be (IMHO) some common sense that many businesses can’t stomach.

Consider this scenario:

I signed up for your product/ service/ newsletter some time back. Let’s go as far as saying a long time back. Even though I don’t engage with your content, you still keep emailing me. *cough* Don’t Do This *cough*.

Finally, I decide that today is the day I want to stop receiving your emails. So I click the unsubscribe/ manage preferences link you have provided in your email. (You do have this in your email, don’t you?)

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But what’s this? You want me to log in first? I can’t recall my info (I signed up a long time ago, remember) and honestly, I couldn’t be bothered.

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You’re making this a chore now, so I’ll just mark you as spam. I’ll solve the problem my way since your way is too annoying.

Aaaaaaand scene.

You see what happened there? Making it harder for users to let you know that they’re no longer interested in your content is a sure fire way to boost your complaints. And I’ve said before, it takes a lot less than you think to get your domain or IP address blacklisted

I hope this helps 😉



“Can we make the unsubscribe link smaller?”

[this post originally appeared on my LinkedIn Profile]

I hear this all the time from clients. Fundamentally, it’s about fear – fear that they will lose their customer. Fear of rejection. But it’s definitely the wrong question. Here’s the correct question:

Can we make the unsubscribe link highly visible and basically impossible to miss?

Here’s the thing:

If you’re sending timely, relevant and engaging content to your subscribers, they’ll keep wanting more from you.

If your content is not relevant or interesting to your subscriber, they’re going to want off your list, and you should make this as simple as possible for them to achieve.

The alternative is a Spam complaint.

Trust me, you never want a Spam complaint. Not even one. Not ever. So make it as painless as possible for someone to let you know that they’re just not that in to you without anyone getting hurt.

Here’s an example of getting it wrong:

I cancelled my Vudu account a little over a year ago. I haven’t used their service since and really, I have no desire to do so. Every now and again I see an email from them pop in to my Promotions folder, and today I thought to my self “I should probably unsubscribe”. Except I couldn’t.

There’s no way to get to a preference center or an unsubscribe link from this email. Which means that I have just one option. The dreaded Report Spam button.

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Let’s forget for a minute that this violates CANSPAM laws and just focus on the customer convenience aspect.

Don’t force your customers to mark you as spam, because they will. Give them an easy, one click way to get off your list – it’s better for your data integrity, and its better for your customer.

Make it clear that you understand if they’re just not that in to you, and that you’re OK with that.


WTF is a website KPI?

KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are supposed to help you check that you’re doing the right things on your website. This ‘help’ hinges on you understanding just what a KPI is when it comes to your website. Modern website analytics tools like Google Analytics give us the chance to track and measure everything that is happening on our websites. That used to be the hard part; the real challenge now is understanding what the numbers mean for your website and your business.

Use Google Chrome to measure your website KPIs

Before digging in to KPIs, we need to understand two other, related, terms – Objectives and Goals.

Put simply, your Objective is the reason your business exists. Make money, save the rain forest, eradicate tawny pygmy worms, whatever. It’s the one thing you live for.

Goals are related to objectives in that they are stepping stones on the way to completing your objective.

Here’s what I mean.

Objective: Make Money

  • Goal: Increase Average Order Amount
  • Understanding Your Website KPI

    KPIs are metrics that help you measure whether or not your goals are on track to help you achieve your objective. A KPI is generally expressed either as a number or a ratio. Let’s look at our previous example and this time we’ll include a website KPI.

    Objective: Make Money

  • Goal: Increase Average Order Amount
  • KPI: % of recommended items added to cart
  • In this scenario, if your KPI is not met and your customer does not add items you recommend to their cart, you know where you need to direct your energy: give better recommendations. If you do, the customer will add more stuff to their cart (Goal met) and you will Make More Money (Objective Met).

    It is deceptively simple. The trick is to extract meaningful KPIs that will actually help you analyse whether or not your goals are met, so you can tell whether or not it’s time to break out the bubbly or burn the midnight oil.

    e.g. If your KPI was “Time spent on checkout page”

    This is an example of a bad KPI for this specific goal. If the results swing one way or the other, the order size will not increase, so the goal will not be met. If, however the goal was to Improve Usability of Checkout Pages, then this KPI might have significance.

    Objective: Make Money

  • Goal: Optimize Checkout process
  • KPI: Time spent on checkout page
  • In this example, the time spent on the checkout page has significance in that it gives you information about whether or not your goals are being met. If the time on page goes up, your goal is not met. If the time on page goes down, you are closer to achieving your goals.

    Here’s another example:

    Objective: Increase advertising revenue generated by website

    Goal: Get more people to read posts (increase impressions)
    KPI: Social Media conversion rate

    By getting more traffic from your social media efforts, you will get more reads and display more ad impressions and achieve your goal. There is more than one way to achieve your goal though, let’s have a look.

    Objective: Increase advertising revenue generated by website

  • Goal: Find position for 468×60 banner with best conversion.
  • KPI: Click through rate
  • In this scenario, when you find the best placement for your banner, you get more clicks and in this way increase your advertising revenue. Same objective, but different goals to achieve it.

    As you can see, it is important to understand both your business and website strategies in order to effectively decide what your KPIs should be. Once you can determine the KPIs for your website, it’s easier to evaluate decisions based on data and take out a lot of the ‘gut feel’ and guesswork. The numbers don’t lie

    The Science of Social Timing and 10 other awesome email infographics

    If you’re involved with Email Marketing, then the time at which you send your email can have a dramatic impact on the result of your campaign. Obviously, the optimal sending time will depend on your list profile – a B2B audience will have a different optimal time to the B2C list, and even then geographic and lifestyle factors will come in to play.

    Hubspot has put together a list of 11 infographics about Email Marketing, including the one below from Kissmetrics which looks at the best time to send campaigns for optimal response rate.

    View the full list of infographics here:

    Click the image to view the full infographic


    Sugru Story Page – How to create a great story about your brand

    While looking for ways to repair a car mirror, I found Sugru. It’s like play dough that hardens in to permanent silicone – perfect for custom life hacks. The things I like most about Sugru is not their product though – it’s their story (or brand for a more traditional term).

    One their Story page they actually have information about them, about how the product came to be, the upsets and near misses as well ad the triumphs and successes. It made me like them just by reading it. It make me like Sugru enough to write this blog post. The story is re-tellable, and it makes me see their team as people who followed their passion and not just another manufacturer cranking out a product. It humanises the brand and creates empathy in me.

    Sugru’s Story

    My favourite part of the page is “The bits we don’t have photos for:”


    The Sugru Story Page



    I received my Sugru in the mail and I made my first ‘thing.’

    It holds my RSA secure key and solves two problems I had, namely 1) Where the hell is my key and 2) having to always tilt the key to the correct angle to be able to see the numbers (1s and 7s often got confused)


    Diamond Shreddies, or how we can make fun of our perceptions

    Much of how we experience the world is based on our perceptions. These perceptions are filters that shape our individual realities, and often, just changing your perceptions (shifing your paradigms) can alter the way you experience your world.

    This commercial for Shreddies perfectly illustrates how advertising can have a little bit of fun with our perceptions.

    A couple of things to think about when sending email

    With all the focus lately falling on social networks and social media, it feels a bit like email is getting a rough deal. Make no mistake, email is still alive, well and very important as a communication, branding and sales tool. So with this in mind I jotted down a couple of thoughts about email.

    These are all based on previous experience and not in any order

    From Address

    Make sure that this is something that the recipient can identify. Having your company name in the from address will make it easier for your recipients to know that it’s you.

    Subject Line
    Subject lines are tricky. Too salesy, and you’ll get stuck in the spam box. Too plain, and you won’t get any one to open it. You’ll need to test a couple of different stories so that you can decide which one you want to use.

    Here’s one way to do it:
    Come up with a couple of different subject lines. Send these to a small percentage of your list and check the response. So, for example, if you have 1000 memberes on your mailing list, send subject line A to about 100 members and Subject Line B to about 100 members. Give this a day or so and then see which subject line worked best. Now you can use the winning subject line and send this out to the balance of your subscribers.

    Header Image
    Pictures a great way to communicate in a very quick easy way. The trick is not to get too carried away. Here are a couple of tips to consider when designing your header image.

    Wider is badder.
    Try not to make your images too wide or your readers will need to scroll in order to see all the information. It might also cause their email clients to wig out.

    See the lighter side of life
    Try and keep your header images as small as possible (in terms of k size). Heavier images take longer to load and this will probably irritate your readers (especially in a country like SA where bandwidth is still an issue).

    Call to action
    You’ll need to choose what it is that you want your email to say. What’s the one thing that you want your email to say? Try not to cram too much info in to the header image.

    Body Copy
    This is the really important part of your email, the meat of the matter if you will. There’s always a temptation to add too much to a newsletter. If you add too much content, it just becomes boring. I’ve always considered a newsletter as a entry point. It’s there to direct traffic to your website or your blog or your sales offer. Whatever the case, try not to cram too much in to the body of your newsletter or quite frankly you’ll bore your readers. Instead, have a summary or shortened version of your article with a link where readers can go to read more.

    As with your header image, try and stick to your Call to Action and not add too many different incentives to click. Too many CTA’s and your mail becomes confusing.

    A tip that I’ve found to work is to have clearly outlined sections. Use different sizes or colours or even header graphics to split out your content in a way that makes it easy for your readers to pick out what it is they want to read.

    The signature is a very underrated part of an email. In addition to containing your details, don’t forget to add your website link. It’s also a great place to add a P.S. I’ve found that a little something in the PS field always tests well and gets pretty good click through rates.

    This is the section of your mail where you need to include your unsubscribe information so that if you do piss anyone off, they can leave your club. With anyone and everyone having a social media profile of some sort, this is a great place to add links to your social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or any other network.