Some Initial Thoughts on Unroll.me

UnRoll.meThanks to this Mashable post from yesterday, the email marketing world is all abuzz about Unroll.me, a startup who claims to be “the easiest way to manage your inbox.” They offer 3 services:

  1. Unsubscribe from your unwanted [email] subscriptions
  2. Discover. Try out personalized recommendations
  3. Organize. Receive a daily overview of the subscriptions you like

As an email marketing guy, I’m most intrigued by the first one – Unsubscribe from your unwanted subscriptions. I signed up for the Beta program and am “awaiting my official invite.” To be fair, this initial review of Unroll.me is not based on me using the service as I don’t have access yet.

I also have mixed feelings. On one hand, I get pumped every single time there is a mention of email marketing (like this video interview of Chris Brogan). On the other hand, it makes me cringe a bit to think about a service that makes it easy for someone to “mass” opt-out of email marketing messages.

The opening paragraph in that Mashable article jumped out at me.

Yesterday I was subscribed to 271 newsletters. Today, after putting about 10 minutes of effort, I’m subscribed to just the 17 of them I find useful…

It got me thinking, is the average consumer really subscribed to 271 email newsletters? If so, do they only find 6.2% of them useful? In a very unscientific, not statistically significant, uber-biased “study” I initiated on Twitter and Facebook where I asked how many unwanted emails people were subscribed to, I was surprised by the numbers.

  1. 50
  2. 132
  3. 20 (since Jan 1)
  4. 30
  5. 15
  6. 123
  7. 50%
  8. 4 per day
  9. 100-150
  10. All of them
Again, this is a far cry from a legitimate survey, but the data sure is compelling. I had to remind myself that as an email marketing guy, I’m not the average consumer. Far from it. When I get an unwanted email, I either report it as spam (assuming I never opted in) or unsubscribe (if I no longer find it valuable). Based on the range of answers above, it would seem that most folks simply delete unwanted emails over and over and over — instead of marking as spam or unsubscribing. Or, if you are Melissa Case (who you should hire), you don’t bother to unsubscribe
Because things like this happen: “If you’d like to unsubscribe, please click here. <I click there> Please enter your password. <enter password> We’re sorry, we don’t recognize that password.” THAT is why.
Deb Henry said,
It drives me crazy that they say click here to unsubscribe and then they make you enter your email address again. I have several email addresses that push to one centralized email address and sometimes it takes a few tries to remember which one it was. Multiply this times 100 emails. It’s easier with unlimited storage in gmail just to ignore them.

Fascinating.

That being said, depending on the adoption rate, Unroll.me could have some serious implications for email marketers. Will it “change your life” like it did for Evan Gramis?

 

Unlikely, but …

What Unroll.me Means For Email Marketers

In the email marketing world, we preach relevance, value and timeliness. With a service like Unroll.me, value becomes that much more critical. If your email is no longer providing value, consumers will – in one fell swoop – unsubscribe from your list. All of that work, all of that effort, all of that time you invested to grow your email marketing list is gone.

However, in many ways that’s also a good thing. Why? It forces email marketers to stand out – to be different. It forces them ensure that every single email they send passes the “Holy Smokes Test” (hat tip to Jason Falls for my new go-to phrase).

It may even force them to break the rules … just a bit … to see what works best for their subscribers.

Getting consumers attention these days is increasingly difficult. Between social media networks like Twitter and Facebook and Google+ and LinkedIn to QR codes to text messaging, we are bombarded with marketing messages – always, everywhere. However, as I’ve preached many times before (and will continue to) there is nothing more valuable then an email address.

Email addresses are the currency of the web. Use can use your email list to nurture prospects through the sales funnel as well as keep your current customers, clients, and fans informed on what’s happening in your business. Most importantly, an email marketing list can easily be segmented to best target specific groups. While it’s certainly possible to segment your social media followers, it’s a lot more difficult.

What do you think? Does a service like Unroll.me change the game for email marketers? Does it force us to up our game? Or is it just another passing fad?

Cheers
DJ Waldow

7 comments
Nick
Nick

I just got to sign up for unroll.me and it significantly changed my morning. I used to get about 100 irrevelant emails everyday and I frankly got tired of trying to stop them. I have 150 filters in my gmail to grab and sort these sort of emails with and the would still consistently get through to my inbox. It's finally nice to see an all in one tool that works like a fireplace for junk email.

JoeManna
JoeManna

I always tell people, "send your next email like it's your last." While that's a bit dramatic, it emphasizes that people tend to take the relationship with people's inboxes for granted. A good litmus for determining if the email is worthy is to think about, "If this is my recipient's last experience with my company, is it a good one?" 

 

I'm intrigued by how Unroll.me operates. Not having the chance to try it myself yet, I think it could prove useful feedback for marketers that people find their email list is not providing value. It's less dangerous than ISP complaints, but more useful than non-engagement. It's like unsubscribe on steroids. 

 

The real benefit for marketers is if they can get aggregate analytics on their unsubscribes. For instance, truly understanding why they unsubscribe, the volume of email they get and so on. 

 

Good post, DJ! :) 

nfortlage
nfortlage

DJ, great post.  Thanks for making me aware of the Unroll.me service.  I have dropped my name into the hat to get a trial account also.

 

Like you I am interested in the roll up feature as so many magazine based subscriptions reuse content and I don't need to read the same story 3 to 4 times or more in the various flavors of publications that the virtual publications have.

 

As of 2012 I have followed your lead and I make the effort to unsubscribe to newsletters that I would like to read but know I never do. Unfortunately I would say that I have hundreds more to go so the unsubscribe feature would be welcome.

 

Thanks Again

bethebutterfly
bethebutterfly

Hi DJ, 

 

My name is Perri and I am one of the co-founders of @unrollme 

and the "Mass Unsubscribe" feature was originally my wish and the team made it come true.  I was absolutely buried in my inbox and could not bare the thought of unsubscribing one by one, clicking a link and being taken to another to another window to then click more buttons. 

 

The first time I tested it on my inbox I was in love.  I assumed that I would want to get rid of everything but I didn't.  In fact, going through the process of reviewing my subscriptions made me pause and think and say, "Wait.  I really like reading that newsletter."  It was actually a stronger confirmation of what I actually LIKE.  We realized that that was not unique to me and so our team developed the "Rollup" that is now the second feature of our service.  We like to read things, but we don't need an extra 50 emails a day. 

 

My personal view is if I don't want to receive your email, why do you want me to get it?  Doesn't that ultimately leave the marketer with higher numbers of actual interested subscribers?  We have also added a "Recommeded For You" feature where users can discover new content and subscribe to lists based on what they like.  The idea here is that if it is easy to unsubscribe, maybe people will be more willing to sign up and try new things.

 

Thanks for writing the post.  We are more than happy to give you an invite.  Get in touch with me @bethebutterfly on Twitter.

 

Cheers

Perri

 

 

 

 

 

djwaldow
djwaldow moderator

Thanks for your comment and insight, Joe!

 

Love this point you make: "The real benefit for marketers is if they can get aggregate analytics on their unsubscribes. For instance, truly understanding why they unsubscribe, the volume of email they get and so on." 

Agree!

djwaldow
djwaldow moderator

 @nfortlage Thanks for your comment! Interested to see how this all plays out...

djwaldow
djwaldow moderator

 @bethebutterfly  Thanks for your comments, Perri. Appreciate you stopping by. In theory, I do like the "mass unsub" option. I guess I was just thrown off as they way I manage my inbox seems to be vastly different then most. I really only have emails in my inbox that I want, that I've asked for. If they are no longer relevant, I unsubscribe. But again, I would agree that many will (and already do) LOVE this feature.

 

I'm interested in seeing how the "Rollup" feature works. Specifically, how it will display in one big email.

 

Thanks again for taking the time to comment!