You know that opt-in email lists are better than opt-out email lists.
You know that even though you don’t have the figures to back it up.
It stands to reason. Sending a message to even a legitimate third party list is always going to produce worse results than emailing people who have confirmed that they want to receive your messages. Those kinds of subscribers are far more likely to read your offers and act on them.
It’s no wonder then that so few people have bothered to check something so obvious.
And it’s no wonder that when someone did bother to check, what they found backed up the assumptions.
Jeanne Jennings of marketing firm ClickZ recently had the chance to compare the open rates of messages sent by business units of one of her clients (“a large house-hold name”) to opt-in lists against messages sent by other parts of the same company to opt-out lists.
The result was impressive, if a little predictable. The open rates for business units using the opt-in lists were, on average, 82 percent higher than the rates won by the opt-out list. In the third quarter of 2011, the opt-in list had an open rate of 14.9 percent; the opt-out list’s open rate was 8.5 percent.
The clickthrough rates, too, were much higher for the opt-in list. In the third quarter of 2011, 3.1 percent of opt-in subscribers clicked through as opposed to just 1.7 percent of opt-out readers.
It was when Jeanne Jennings check the click-to-open rate though that things got a bit surprising.
This is the percentage of people who click a link having opened the email, and it’s calculated by dividing the number of unique clicks by the number of unique opens. Here, there was much more variance with the rates of the two lists sometimes almost identical.
The click-to-open rate can be said to be an excellent measure of the effectiveness of email marketing copy. If a subscriber has already said that he or she is interested in receiving information, and if the subject line and from line have been tempting and trustworthy enough to persuade the reader to open it, the copy has to persuade them to click through to the landing page.
No part of a subscriber list is going to be hotter than those readers who have opened an email.
But having reached the content of the message, the opt-in subscribers should be more likely to click. They should already have a relationship of trust with the sender that makes them feel more confident about buying and interacting with the business.
If a business unit is seeing the same open rates for opt-out lists as for opt-in lists, then that company is doing something wrong.
It’s failed to engage its subscribers. It’s failed to build a relationship with them, and it’s failing to convert into deals the interest that leads showed when they signed up.
This is a mistake that even “household names” make. Take care that it’s not a mistake that your business makes.