THE CHALLENGE: Consumer frustration with opt-out marketing policies is growing. Marketers need to convince them to share information regarding their preferences in exchange for a valuable, personalized relationship.
Unfortunately, Opt-Out Is the New Norm
There are now over 200 million numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry. Moreover, a number of states have introduced "Do-Not-Mail" bills and the topic of "Do Not Track" legislation is red-hot. Overseas, governments are taking even more drastic actions. For example, the Italian government banned all unsolicited mail, phone, email, fax and mobile communications.
As consumers find more ways to avoid unsolicited marketing communications, panicked businesses are responding by creating opt-out relationships wherever they can. This is the wrong approach.
Customer Frustration Is Growing
Today's empowered consumers are questioning why the burden should be on them to opt-out. In fact, prominent opt-in campaigns have resulted in enthusiastic customer response. Consider the case of comedian Louis C.K.
In recent years, Louis C.K. has risen to prominence as a stand-up comic, an actor, and, with his show Louie, a writer, director and editor. And with his self-produced and distributed "Live at the Beacon Theater" video, he's setting an important example for online marketers. Rather than forcing his consumers to opt-out, he asked them to opt-in -- in a prominent, tongue-in-cheek way:
"I'm going to be offering other things through this site. Would you like to hear about them?
- Yes, I'd like to receive further emails about Louis C.K. things.
- No, leave me alone forever, you fat idiot."
The latter was selected by default. The customer response was unequivocal: "'Opt in' as the default is such a minor thing, but it makes people feel good."
Create a Reciprocity of Value
Rather than making "opt-out" the default, marketers should compete to engage consumers with compelling value propositions that motivate them to opt-in.
The most compelling value you can offer is relevance. Consumers are eager for meaningful personalization. The challenge for marketers is to make them aware that, in order to receive or access increasingly relevant information, consumers must share increasing amounts of information regarding their preferences.
Microsoft used Voice of the Customer (VoC) research to create a highly personalized experience in their Business Resource Center, which asked over 14 detailed business questions in order to deliver targeted and relevant information. As a result, they have achieved opt-in rates as high as 95 percent.
Three Takeaways for Marketers
> Create a Reciprocity of Value
Consumers opt-in to share increasingly detailed personal preference information in exchange for marketer's promises to deliver relevant information and offers.
> Opt-In Is Not About Passively Agreeing to Receive Email
It's about actively opting-in to a relationship and self-profiling your preferences and aversions.
> Consumers Are Eager to Tell You How They Want to be Treated
The key is to ask.
Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.
Ernan was recently inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame.
Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
Ernan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.
His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.
Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."