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Opt In versus Opt Out: The Science of Participation
By: Aaron Whitaker
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When it comes to brands extending their messages, many have newsletters, weekly deals, or other incentives for customers and fans to opt in to. But if you’ve been in the business long enough, you soon realize that a low percentage of people end up opting in to your newsletter or deals or updates. So what if you turn the tables and have your customers opt out rather than opting in? Would they be angry or fine with the decision? Will your conversions increase?
If you are inviting your customers to receive deals and weekly newsletters after they purchase an item, they probably won’t have any ill will towards you if you have the opt in box checked rather than unchecked. They obviously liked what you were selling and the price that you were selling it at, so they probably wouldn’t mind being reminded of upcoming deals or new products or receiving articles on how to get the most out of the product and/or products they bought. In the end, if they don’t want to receive or read your newsletter or deals, they can always either delete the message or opt out by unsubscribing. You obviously want to give them the choice to uncheck the opt in during the checkout process, but having that opt-in box checked rather than unchecked will most likely result in more participation and a larger email database.
Another area in where I notice an opting in strategy is with online games, e-books, and software. In order to play the game, get the software or download the e-book; the customer must first provide their email address. Sometimes the sites also require one to register with a username and password, but many just require one’s email in order to get the link to download or access what the customer is wanting. This type of required opting in can potentially turn some people away as they fear their email is going to some spam database. It’s important, if you do pursue this avenue of increasing your email database, that you are upfront in informing your customers why you need their email and what you intend to send them in the future. You could even have an opt-out box for them to uncheck if they don’t want to receive any future emails.
By having your customers choose to opt out as opposed to opt in, you should see an increase in customer participation, as many customers don’t mind receiving future deals and news about a product or products they bought. One great way to get their email in the first place during the checkout process is by informing them that their receipt will be emailed to them so they can save it digitally in case they need to return the item during the warranty period. You can also email them any warranty or rebate info.
Obviously, the opting-in and opting-out processes will be different for different businesses, especially with those that are gathering info offline as opposed to online, as discussed above. The key is to provide a valuable reason for wanting to keep in touch with your customers and potential customers. With a good enough reason, your customers will not have a problem providing their emails, and they most likely won’t choose to opt out from future emails on deals and newsletters.

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About the Author
Aaron Whitaker is a copywriter, blogger, and social media aficionado who likes watching the TV commercials more than the actual shows. He prefers reading the magazine ads over the articles. And you can learn more about him online right here.
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