exec summ: bugs in hubspot’s unsubscribe process can result in hubspot ineligible customers who cannot receive any email if you also use their system for non-promotional communications. here’s how to determine the extent of the issue with your client base, as well as some ways to reduce the number of lost sheep…er, disconnected customers. update: I spoke with the guy who developed hubspot’s email product, who confirmed he built the service specifically for marketing. he acknowledged the existing customer issue and hinted at changes coming soon. I have been a huge fan of inbound and hubspot for years. I inherited a lovely (but mostly unused) hubspot setup when i started my current job, and the reality is even better than i imagined. I plan on several posts on how I do things with the system that aren’t in the manual. In my last post, I identified an issue with hubspot’s email manager that had the potential to block important messages to existing customers. it took a few weeks of scrambling and several hundred calls to hubspot’s amazing support line, but I identified some ways to reduce the number of customers who may be accidentally opting out of any communications.
do you have a hubspot ineligible problem?
here’s how to see if you have a problem with hubspot ineligible customers. find an email sent exclusively to current clients. look at the difference between “selected” and “sent” (#1 in the image, in this case about 300). now you know how many existing customers for that particular product you are not reaching with messages sent through hubspot. #2 shows an intended recipient who doesn’t get the message because a previous message to the address resulted in a hard bounce (more on hard bounces in my next post). #3 shows a couple of unsubscribed customers, our subject today. I explained why hubspot (and probably all email providers) exacerbate the problem of customers opting out in my last post. if you’ve ever been annoyed by an email newsletter that seems to come every day and never has anything you want to read, the unsubscribe link is your friend. you may not have noticed that in many cases, there are two links – one to unsubscribe, and one to “manage your email preferences.” chances are, unless you are a marketer or someone who thinks rationally in the moment of pique that brings you to those links, you will choose the click path more often taken, frost be damned. why should you have higher standards for your customers than for yourself?
double trouble: unsubscribe links in your email footer
the first step in reducing inadvertent opt-outs by customers is removing the easiest way to inadvertently opt out. the default setting for hubspot email includes two ways to say no. call hubspot support and ask them to take the unsubscribe link out of the footer.* most recipients who do not want more email from you will be cool with the “manage your email preferences” link that remains. the ones it upsets even more weren’t hanging around anyway. unless you have a separate email system configured for urgent, must see messages to your customers, you do not want them to unsubscribe from all email.
legal eagles might cry foul – but in fact, current laws require only that email recipients have the ability to opt out with two clicks or less. presenting an email recipient who might be a current customer with an option to block future communications without disclosing all the consequences goes against the spirit of the existing business relationship exemption.
in most cases, when they click unsubscribe, they are not saying “I hate you and your stupid emails.” They are saying, “this message doesn’t interest me, and I am getting too many of them from you” in the clearest way they see to do so. offer them a gentler path. in particular, tell your customers how to stop stop getting email they don’t want without blocking the messages they need!
email preferences: your last, best chance to educate
you can access your email preferences page in hubspot’s design center. the first thing you’ll see is the “are you really you?” test. below that is the option to opt in or out of various email categories. this is also a user-editable option, controlled through your contents settings under email. as tempting as it might be to create lots of email types, restrain yourself. confront a slightly dissatisfied recipient with too many options, you are back to bull and reg flag territory and the risk of global unsubscribe. if hubspot lets you specify category order on this list, I haven’t cracked the code. ideally, you want one option for non-promotional customer messages and one for each type of promotional email you send. for example, we produce webinars which are nominally unrelated to our software products and consulting services. so I have one for our newsletter, one for event notifications, one for “informational emails” (not shown) and one for urgent customer communications. use the edit controls on the preferences page to educate email recipients, especially those who are also your customers. on ours, I tell viewers once, twice, three times what I need them to do. does it work every time? of course not. our customer service team still faces the challenge of reaching out to hundreds of globally unsubscribed customers to help them get reconnected. but it’s a start. * hubspot does have an editable template called “backup unsubscribe” that appears to allow another shot at preventing loss of existing customers, but I do not know how to get that screen to pop up after someone clicks unsubscribe instead of the “k, bye” confirmation screen. if I find out, I’ll update this post.