The Holiday Opt-Out: Should Your Email Strategy Take Part?


The holidays are in full swing. It’s a busy time for marketers, and while it’s a joyous time for many, the holidays can also be stressful and hard for some. In recent years, a new strategy has emerged for email marketers—empathy.

The opt-out lets marketers be more attuned to their audiences, treating them as people over consumers. If you just lost a parent, perhaps you wouldn’t want to be bombarded with Mother’s and Father’s Day emails.

After all, people get slammed with holiday sends, why not give them the option to opt out of a specific campaign if they so choose?  It’s not goodbye, just pause.

However, as well-meaning as this strategy might appear, there are some potential pitfalls.

Today, we’re breaking down some of the pros and cons of the holiday opt-out so you can make the best decision for your organization’s holiday marketing strategy!


The Pros


Empathy Empowers

It might seem obvious, but empathy is a huge plus for your brand. According to a 2022 survey by Capterra, “91% of consumers feel very or somewhat positive towards holiday email opt-outs and rate brands that offer opt-outs higher in appearing empathetic.”

That’s a massive boost for your brand!


Give People What They Want

The Capterra survey also reported that “39% of consumers say they would always or usually unsubscribe” if given the chance to opt out of holiday emails.

It probably goes without saying, but if people are asking for a more empathetic marketing approach, it might be time to give them one.


The Cons


Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Despite strong support for the opt-out option in the Capterra survey, the Data and Marketing Association’s 2023 Consumer Email Tracker report found that people would “Just rather unsubscribe” than opt for a pause or preference change.

So, while it might appear that a holiday opt-out has garnered quite a bit of support, marketers should be aware that support doesn’t always translate into the desired action.  


It Might Backfire

We don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but even the best intentions can get lost in translation, and sometimes this type of empathetic approach can backfire. How?

Think of it this way. If you’ve lost your mom or dad and a company sends you an email opt-out for Mother’s or Father’s Day, that might bring up the same negative emotions if it’s not done tactfully.

In fact, it could be worse than just keeping the status quo. That customer could feel those same negative emotions with the opt-out as the actual campaign and could still unsubscribe.

We’re not saying that will happen, but that it could. That’s the risk. This is one of the main critiques of the empathetic email opt-out.  


It’s More Work

Let’s be honest. The holidays are stressful as is, let alone asking a small marketing team to do even more. Updating preference centers, managing more lists, and creating custom workflows don’t all happen in a vacuum.

 It takes time—which you might or might not have.


What To Do?

You want to be empathetic towards your audience, but you don’t want it to backfire. It just so happens that there might be a way to create a win-win for everyone. 

One balanced strategy might include updating your preference center so that new subscribers can opt-in for holiday emails. That way, they choose at the beginning of their relationship with your brand what they’d like to hear from you.

This is more than a courtesy; it gives them control over their communications and shows you care from the very start—not just two weeks before your holiday campaign.

If you do decide to send opt-outs ahead of big holiday campaigns, be gentle, make it simple, and stay on brand. The best way to know if this strategy is for you is to test!

It’s also going to make a huge difference if you understand your specific audience’s wants and needs. All brand’s customers are different, so what may work for one email marketer, might not work for another.

The number one key to good marketing? Know your audience.


Got an Email Marketing Strategy?

If not, you need one! Let our team of expert digital marketers help you craft standout email campaigns that boost engagement and conversions.We’re here to chat whenever you’re ready. 

Schedule a Free Consultation Today!

Padron & Co. is a leading creative, marketing, and digital communications agency that helps nonprofits and corporations make meaningful connections and further their missions.

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