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Should You Ask People To Unsubscribe?

As part of the enhancements we’ve been doing to One Degree to celebrate our first anniversary we’ve moved to a new outbound e-mail system. Our intention from Day One was to provide _daily_ e-mail alerts but we never had a nicely automated (and cost effective) way to do this.
We added “Feedblitz”: to the site a few weeks ago and the uptake and feedback from new subscribers has been great.
But we still have a load of subscribers from the past year who came to expect a _weekly_ e-mail digest rather than an overnight push of links to all posts from the previous day.
What to do, what to do.
* We could just move people over to daily, but that didn’t seem right.
* We could tell them to sign-up for the new list and kill the old one (not good from a retention and customer service standpoint), or,
* We could let them know about the change and give them a chance to get out before we made the switch.

We chose the last option and sent this message to our weekly digest e-mail subscribers on Monday afternoon:
bq.. Important Changes To Your One Degree Subscription
On Friday April 21st One Degree will be consolidating this WEEKLY E-mail Digest with our new and very popular DAILY E-mail Alert featuring links to the prior days articles.
Since you may have assumed you’d only hear from us once a week we wanted to give you a few days to unsubscribe from this list before moving your subscription to Daily Alerts.
You can follow the link at the bottom of this message to unsubscribe. Please do so BEFORE end-of-day Wednesday if you DO NOT wish to get One Degree Daily Alerts starting Friday.
To ensure that you continue receiving messages from us, you may also want to take a moment to add one (at) to your white-list and address book.
Another option you may wish to consider is subscribing to the One Degree Feed via your favourite feed-reader so that you can get real-time updates on what we’re adding to the site. Visit to get the feed.
Thanks for your attention and please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
p. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about telling our gentle subscribers that they might want to unsubscribe. But my fear was unfounded.
The fall-out 30 hours later:
# 14 people, representing 3% of the total list (430 subscribers), unsubscribed.
# Of those, 4, representing about 1%, turned around and signed-up for the Daily Alert _immediately_ (i.e. it seems they couldn’t wait until we switched over on Friday and wanted to get the daily alerts right away).
# One comment (“kewl! – A Daily Dose”) for the change, zero against.
We’ll see what happens on Friday when the new system kicks in. Hopefully everyone will have updated their whitelists and we’ll get to their inboxes every day without incident.

One Comment

  1. Stefan Eyram
    Stefan Eyram May 8, 2006

    I think you did alright with your decision, Ken.
    The best practice in such a situation is to ask people to opt in for the new (daily) email. Most marketers will not take this route for fear of having the non-openers take no action and therefore get unsubscribed.
    But that’s the point, really. Those people that are subscribed but don’t open or read your emails only dilute your actual results. It has been proven that quality of list is much better than quantity of list. Recent case studies by ExactTarget has shown that email marketers can lose 50% of their list in a re-opt-in campaign yet lose no significant click-throughs and, most important, actually increase email ROI.
    How do they do this?
    When inactive suscribers don’t read or interact there is no return. But you still pay to send those emails. So if you are able to remove all of those people who have no interest in your emails – and who may have created a rule to delete your messages automatically – you don’t pay to send them an email.
    Let’s say you have a list of 50,000 recipients and pay 2 cents per email, you will save $1,000 per deployment. If you pay only 1 cent per email you still save $500. Over a year that adds up. A total savings of $6,000-12,000 on a monthly newsletter program, maybe $20,000 if you send weekly.
    Choose quality over quantity. Make sure you are sending to people who want to get your communications and who will take the actions you want.
    Ping me if you want more information and a copy of a relevant case study…seyram at

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