How a Simple Opt-Out Email Initiative Started a Movement for Thoughtful Marketing
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How a Simple Opt-Out Email Initiative Started a Movement for Thoughtful Marketing

How a Simple Opt-Out Email Initiative Started a Movement for Thoughtful Marketing

by Emma Bainbridge
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An increasing number of brands are taking a thoughtful approach to holiday email marketing, giving subscribers the opportunity to unsubscribe from material that may cause grief.

For many people, holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine's Day aren’t easy times of the year. It can be even worse when your inbox is bombarded with promotional emails about those holidays.
Fortunately, brands are beginning to acknowledge this, and have started giving customers the option to opt-out of emails for certain sensitive holidays.
This practice and the subsequent movement developed around it became known as “thoughtful marketing”. Although it initially started with small businesses, it has been adopted by bigger companies like Canva, The Body Shop, and The Telegraph.

Where did this start?

In 2019, UK flower delivery company Bloom & Wild started to give customers the option to choose not to receive emails about Mother’s Day when they noticed that people were requesting to temporarily unsubscribe for that period.
After receiving a largely positive response, they launched the Thoughtful Marketing movement seeking to “change the culture around brand communications and improve the experience for customers across the industry.”
This opt-out policy received a lot of press and was even mentioned in a debate in the UK Parliament about bereavement counseling. MP Matt Warman, who lost both his parents, praised the policy and suggested that “organizations such as the Advertising Standards Authority could perhaps make this part of a voluntary code around data”.

The Human Side

Thoughtful marketing shows customers that brands care about their mental well-being by attempting to reduce the possibility of encountering triggering content. For many brands, this is the primary motivation for implementing it.
“We noticed around our Mother's Day and Father's Day marketing each year we would receive a small number of customers writing to us to mention how it upset them, and as Yumbles has grown those messages have grown too,” says Katie Kitiri, founder of Yumbles, the UK’s largest artisan food market. “This was unacceptable for us, so we wanted to do something about it.”
In some cases, the founders of the brands understand all too well why these occasions may be uncomfortable for their customers. Betsy Benn, a brand creating personalized prints and designs, is run by a team of four women who have either lost their fathers or have a dysfunctional relationship with them. They began to use opt-out marketing when they saw bigger companies doing it around Valentine’s Day in 2021.
Overall, thoughtful marketing seems to receive a largely positive response from customers. “We've had very positive feedback about this, with people being very appreciative of the gesture,” says Katiri. “Less than 0.5% of our subscribers do choose to opt-out - but for those individuals, it understandably can make all the difference.”
Betsy Benn agrees and adds that customers may not even opt-out for triggering reasons, but simply because it doesn’t apply to them. “In a world where we get so much information it’s respectful to offer people the choice to dial it down, and not completely out,” they explain.

The Business Side

Being compassionate towards customers’ needs can be beneficial to a brand’s business. It shows customers that you value them and are willing to put in extra work to ensure that they can have a comfortable experience with your business.
“People (consumers) are understandably increasingly mindful about the values of businesses they shop from,” explains Katiri.
Bloom and Wild studied how thoughtful marketing affected customer engagement by comparing the behaviors of customers who chose to opt-out and those who did not. They found that customers who opt-out of certain emails are actually more loyal to the brand. In their most recent sample, “opted out customers had a lifetime value 1.7x that of non-opted out customers”.
Lucy Evans, the head of retention writes that there are two reasons for this. They’ve “created a meaningful brand experience with our customers” and “mitigated the risk of a full email unsubscribe for these customers, who we’d never be able to contact again.”

Implementing Thoughtful Marketing

For brands looking to create a thoughtful marketing strategy, Bloom and Wild have put together several guides. On their website, they’ve written about how to start your opt-out campaign and how to set it up in the backend.
However, Betsy Benn warns that it can be harder to do as a smaller company. “I imagine [larger companies] have a really great database of customers that tracks everything and has great functionality. We literally have to do it manually each holiday,” they tell The Luupe. Even so, they believe that it’s worth the effort.

A Growing Movement

There are now over 170 businesses that are part of Bloom and Wild’s Thoughtful Marketing movement, showing how much this strategy resonates with customers. It makes people feel cared for and valued by the brand, increasing customer satisfaction, and engagement. Thoughtful marketing is both the compassionate choice and the smart choice when it comes to marketing strategy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emma Bainbridge
Emma Bainbridge is a journalist and freelance writer covering politics, culture, and lifestyle. Her writing has been published in Conde Nast Traveler, The Monitor, The Indiependent, and more.
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