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Using the "unsubscribe" link in a cold mailing sequence

This article was written for Europe. We invite you to check the regulations of your country.

In France, cold mailing campaigns must adhere to the regulations set forth by the CNIL (Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés). It is crucial for companies to understand and comply with these rules, as well as leverage them for their benefit. The unsubscribe link is a mandatory component to include in your emails. Let's explore its usefulness and how to incorporate it while adhering to the relevant regulations.

Understanding CNIL and GDPR regulations for cold mailing

To use the unsubscribe link correctly, it is vital to understand the regulatory context in which it operates. The goal is not to dive into the legal details, but to extract the aspects relevant to cold mailing.

Basic principles of GDPR and CNIL

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European law that took effect on May 25, 2018, aiming to strengthen the protection of personal data for European citizens. The CNIL is the French authority responsible for ensuring data protection and GDPR compliance in France.

In essence, the GDPR aims to prevent the sending of commercial messages without the recipient's prior consent, also known as opt-in. The main elements of GDPR include:

  • Data must be processed lawfully, fairly, and transparently

  • Collected data must be used for the purposes for which it was gathered

  • Only necessary data should be collected to achieve the intended objectives

  • Data must be accurate and regularly updated

  • Data must be stored in a form that allows identification of individuals for an appropriate duration

  • Data must be securely stored

Given these principles, it's natural to question whether cold mailing is still legal. Yes, B2B email prospecting is subject to some exceptions.

CNIL exceptions for B2B cold mailing

The CNIL has provided exceptions for obtaining prior consent in the context of cold mailing:

  • The objective of your cold mailing campaign must be related to the recipient's profession.

  • The cold mail pertains to products or services similar to those already acquired from the same company.

  • The recipient must have the opportunity to understand how their personal data is managed.

  • The recipient must have an easy, direct, and free way to opt out of receiving emails from the company.

The last point is the focus of this article.

The unsubscribe link in marketing campaigns

First, it's essential to differentiate between marketing campaigns and cold mailing campaigns. In marketing campaigns, double opt-in is required. This means that the person must explicitly agree to receive emails from the company, such as when signing up for a newsletter or downloading a whitepaper.

In these campaigns, the unsubscribe link must be accessible in all emails. Good practice is to offer subscription management options to prevent recipients from unsubscribing from all communications, only opting out of those they're no longer interested in. This benefits both the company and the recipients.

The unsubscribe link in cold mailing sequences

Beyond regulatory aspects, using an unsubscribe link provides a better experience for recipients and influences the company's reputation. A person uninterested in your offer who cannot easily stop receiving your emails will become annoyed by your fourth or fifth email. The unsubscribe link reduces the risk of being marked as spam or junk. A low reporting rate preserves your sender reputation and avoids penalties from internet service providers (ISPs) or the CNIL.

Unsubscription rates are performance indicators for your cold mailing campaigns. A high rate provides insight into the relevance of your targeted prospect base, helping you refine your targeting.

If you've done your job correctly when designing your cold mailing campaign, your prospects should not consider your emails as spam. At Emelia, we recommend thorough personalization, from compiling your prospect list to writing your cold emails.

In practice, the "unsubscribe" link meets several legal criteria for including it in your emails. There's no need to use tactics to hide it, as mentioned earlier, as it wouldn't benefit anyone. We have a tip to share with you at the end of this section.

The validity criteria for the "unsubscribe" link in your cold emails

  • Visibility: The link must be easily identifiable and visible in the email. Don't use a font size smaller than 8 points. It is generally found at the bottom of the email.

  • Clarity: The text must be understandable. Use simple terms like "unsubscribe," "opt-out," "stop receiving these emails," and in the language of your recipients.

  • Accessibility: The link must be understandable to all, including those using assistive software.

  • Ease of use: The unsubscribe process must be simple and fast. Forget multi-step processes and don't ask for additional information. The best practice is a one-click unsubscribe with a message confirming that the request has been processed.

  • Reliability: The link must be valid and work correctly under all circumstances. You must ensure that the contact who clicked on the "unsubscribe" link no longer receives emails according to their expressed wish.

  • Privacy: The unsubscribe process must respect user data confidentiality. Avoid sharing emails with third parties.

To more easily comply with these criteria, you can use a cold mailing tool like Emelia, which manages unsubscribed contacts and ensures they will no longer be used in your campaigns.

Best practices for integrating the "unsubscribe" link into your cold emails

The "unsubscribe" link is often placed at the bottom of the email. There's no need to highlight it from the beginning. The goal is to get the recipient to read the email content. Positioning the link at the bottom of the email and isolating it from the rest of the content gives it better visibility.

The link should have an appropriate font size and a readable color. You can simply keep your hyperlink attributes. Also, make sure to adapt the text to the language of the recipients, especially in the case of an international cold mailing campaign.

We recommend replacing the "unsubscribe" link text with a much more natural phrase tailored to the context of your email. For example: "PS: If you no longer wish to receive emails from me, please let me know." Be sure to stay clear in your wording.

Finally, before sending your cold mailing sequence, test the "unsubscribe" link to ensure it works correctly and leads to a functional unsubscribe page regardless of the browser used. By following these best practices, you ensure your business complies with the law and provides a better user experience.

We encourage you to see this constraint as an opportunity to improve your cold mailing campaigns and achieve better results.

Monitor performance and analyze unsubscribe data

In a cold mailing campaign, your goal is to improve recipient engagement. Tracking performance and analyzing unsubscribe data will help you optimize your campaign in this direction.

To measure the unsubscribe rate, you must divide the number of unsubscribes by the total number of emails sent. This indicator allows you to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns. Two major problems can be identified: wrong message, wrong target.

In marketing campaigns, it's interesting to ask for the reason for unsubscribing. The proposed reasons are often: "uninteresting content," "too high sending frequency," "technical problems," etc. By relying on this feedback, you have concrete information to implement improvement actions. As mentioned earlier, in cold mailing campaigns, it's better to avoid adding a step to the unsubscribe process.

Based on the data you have about your contacts, you can analyze and segment unsubscribes. This will help you identify the groups most sensitive to unsubscribes and adapt your approach.

After launching several campaigns, compare the performance of each in terms of the unsubscribe rate. This way, you'll be able to deduce the best practices for your business and highlight influencing factors such as the timing of the email, the design, the text length, the subject, or the personalization.

By following a continuous improvement process, you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of your cold mailing campaigns and adjust your strategy to improve your performance.

Adapt your content and approach to reduce unsubscribes

The more personalized your overall approach, the fewer unsubscribes you'll have. In cold mailing, personalization is key. Today, people are used to and tired of mass mailing campaigns (sending the same email to many people) that resemble spam.

To launch cold mailing campaigns, you can follow these tips:

  • Target the right people by using the right filters in LinkedIn Sales Navigator when building your prospect list (industry, seniority in the company, etc.)

  • Create quality content related to the characteristics of your contact list

  • Use variables to personalize each email with the data you've added to your prospecting file

  • Work on an ice-breaker for each contact and insert it into your email using a variable Find the right rhythm for sending your email sequence by testing the time between each email and the number of emails in the sequence

  • Work on your email subjects to encourage recipients to open the email while remaining consistent with its content

  • Stay transparent and honest about the nature of your emails and the reasons for contacting the recipients. Using deceptive and manipulative techniques will harm your company's reputation and break trust with your prospects from the outset.

With this personalized approach, you'll significantly reduce unsubscribes and improve prospect engagement.

If you have the opportunity, you can also engage in dialogue with people who have told you they're not interested in your offer. This will allow you to better understand their expectations and needs. With this feedback, your cold mailing strategy can be improved.

Using the "unsubscribe" link in a cold mailing sequence is essential for complying with CNIL regulations and GDPR. By following the best practices for integrating this link into your emails and personalizing your campaigns based on your prospects, you can reduce unsubscribes and improve recipient engagement.

Don't neglect the relevance of content, message personalization, and the frequency of sending your emails. By regularly analyzing unsubscribe data and key performance indicators (KPIs), you continuously optimize your campaigns for better results.

In summary, a respectful, transparent, and prospect-focused approach not only allows you to comply with current regulations but also strengthens trust in your brand and improves the performance of your cold mailing campaigns.

Ready to start your cold mailing campaign?

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