HomeBlog From Opt-Out to Opt-In: Bringing Contacts Back Into Contact

From Opt-Out to Opt-In: Bringing Contacts Back Into Contact

November 28, 2011 | By Jim Ninivaggi

Many of our clients struggle with large opt-out lists that, while containing contacts they’ve identified as a good fit for their offers, are unable to be communicated with due to their current status. The good news: All is not lost.

Many of our clients struggle with large opt-out lists that, while containing contacts they’ve identified as a good fit for their offers, are unable to be communicated with due to their current status. The good news: All is not lost.

The first step is to ensure you’re managing opt-outs effectively. This means having three things in place: an opt-out process, at least one person assigned to manage it, and an integrated technology framework to support it. Next, audit current processes to determine compliance with all communication rules in the geographies you communicate with, such as email (CAN-SPAM), telecommunication (do not call) and direct mail (do not mail). From a technology standpoint, all of your systems that enable opt-outs (e.g. sales force automation, services, support, marketing automation) must be integrated, so that when a person opts out of one system, they’re automatically opted out of all other systems. Follow this by segmenting opts-outs according to the types of communication involved, such as email (blanket email or specific communications opt-out, such as events, updates, newsletters), do not call, direct mail, or blanket opt-out of all communications.

Now you can begin focusing on convincing those opt-outs to come back. For contacts opting out of one form of communication, try an alternative form of communication to get them to opt in again. For instance, if a contact has opted out of email communication, you can still call them or send a direct mail, provided they’re not on your do-not-call or do-not-mail lists. To be successful, it’s critical to understand buyers’ needs based on their profiles — including explicit data (firmagraphic and demographic) and implicit activities (e.g. Web, social, response to call or direct mail) — to ensure that you’re providing targeted offers of interest and relevance. Based on their profile, to reduce cost and effort, focus only on contacts identified as having a propensity to buy.

If you receive a blanket opt-out, or over time a contact has opted out of all communications, you can still get them to opt in again by leveraging inbound marketing. The key is to provide relevant content via social media and other third-party channels such as content syndication, search engine marketing/pay per click (SEM/PPC), search engine optimization and association marketing, to provide them with the opportunity to opt in again. If they submit a form with the opt-in box checked or update their preference center profile’s opt-in status, you can legally communicate with them again in the United States. Note that in many countries a double opt-in (second communication confirming opt-in status) is still necessary, so carefully review the laws for all countries in which you communicate.

While working on getting contacts to opt in again, also focus on how to reduce your opt-outs. Do this by addressing the two key reasons people opt out: lack of relevance and frequency. To improve the relevance of content and offers, they must be linked to the individual buyer’s role and stage in the buying process. If you don’t already have a preference center, consider offering one instead of a blanket opt-out. Preference center users can “opt down” instead of opting out by choosing only communications and content types of particular interest; this not only reduces opt-outs, but also increases knowledge of buyer preferences so more relevant content can be offered. In terms of frequency, your preference center will also help segment your target audience more granularly, reducing the number communications required to each audience member and thus opt-outs as well.

One final thought on frequency: Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, track buyer behavior in terms of the frequency, recency and value of interactions they have with you; these indicate their level of engagement, and engaged parties tend to have a higher frequency threshold due to their greater urgency to obtain information.

Jim Ninivaggi

Jim Ninivaggi is Service Director, Sales Enablement Strategies, at SiriusDecisions. Jim’s focus is on helping to deliver data, knowledge and insight that our clients need to improve sales performance and drive ROI. Follow Jim on Twitter @jninivaggi.