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Email Disaffection Index

This week’s Email Insider article proposes replacing use of the unsubscribe rate with a “Disaffection Index” to more accurately reflect how well your email is being received.
For many marketers, the problem with using the Unsubscribe rate as a metric is that many users have come to believe that companies will not actually remove you from their list by using it. They simply delete the message instead and the unsubscribe rate becomes an inaccurate measure of how your message was received.

The Dissaffection Index proposed is calculated as the number of unsubscribes divided by the number of clicks: unsubscribes/clickthroughs. Author and consultant Melinda Kreuger provided a sample table with rates for several mailings to illustrate the impact. For example, the old unsubscribe for one mailing was 0.1% and the new Dissaffection Index (DI) 8.8%, compared to another mailing where the unsubscribe rate was 0.2% and the DI 2.3%.
Ms. Kreuger also provided an example comparing Unsubscribe and DI rates for customer segments within a mailing. The new customers had the highest unsubscribe rate at 0.5% and the highest DI at 9.9%, while Platinum (best) customers had an unsubscribe rate of 0.1% and DI of 1.2%. The results of this example shed light on a problem with relying on any kind of metric to judge receptivity to a message: your best customers are your most tolerant, conversely new customers are least tolerant. So is this metric of any more use than unsubscribe and response rates?
I tried applying this metric to a couple recent client reports, and while the results weren’t astounding or surprising, they do reinforce a problem we’re having more vividly than the little unsubscribe metric does when it shows at 0.1 or 0.2% (and support my arguments for more segmentation and better targetted content).
I encourage you to try it out and share your findings and opinion as to whether this is a useful metric for your campaigns and ongoing programs. It’s potential is persuasive, and when planning you may find it useful.