There are loads of different anti-virus software utilities available that have email content scanning as an option.
When users enable this kind of feature it means that every email they receive could be scanned and every link tested to ensure there’s nothing harmful contained within the content.
Anything that protects users is a good thing but the bad news for senders is that there are two unwanted side effects.
Firstly, click rates become falsely inflated but something much worse is that opt-out rates increase if you are using a ‘one click’ opt-out approach.
We all know that opt-out should be very clearly stated in email campaigns and the process of opting-out should be quick and simple for users to do.
Instiller has a number of different options in relation to what happens when the user clicks opt-out and by default it’s one-click that loads a page to say ‘thanks…’.
Users will pretty much expect that way of working to be the case as anything else that gets in the way to slow it all down only serves to create a frustrating user experience.
There’s nothing more annoying than clicking opt-out then being forced to type in your email address again or answer a stack of questions first – a much better way is to opt-out the user then give the questions as an option if you’re interested in knowing why they don’t want any further emails from you.
What’s the issue?
Slightly inflated click rates are probably not that much of an issue and won’t concern many (or any) senders.
Opt-outs that occur from the automated link scanning will though because it means affected users won’t receive future campaigns if their anti-virus software has inadvertently requested an opt-out.
Obviously this can result in reduced response and conversion rates and that’s bad news for effectiveness of campaigns and revenue generation.
How we stop automated opt-outs
It’s important to note here that what we’re not trying to stop is legitimate requests from users that want to opt-out. Far from it, and part of the automated pre-flight checks we run whilst email campaigns are being setup ensures that an opt-out link is present in every single email we send.
Through research into this problem we found a reliable method for identifying link scanner applications. Whenever we identify an automated click from one of these sources the ‘one click’ opt-out introduces an initial step that halts the process.
If a real life user ever gets to that page it’s still ok because there’s text on-screen that asks them to click and confirm their opt-out request.
Does it reduce automated opt-outs?
Yes, it definitely does. It was never a massive issue but from our analysis we can see that there are much lower numbers of users clicking every single link and opting-out at the same time.
Every small improvement adds up and it all works towards increasing response rates which is what all marketers want.
If you don’t use a ‘one click’ opt-out approach in your email campaigns then this isn’t going to be an issue for you currently. There’s also the chance that if you’re not using Instiller then your ESP may already have solved the problem in a similar way to how we have.
In either case, it’s worth looking a little deeper into the users that are opting out of your campaigns. If you spot any that have clicked on every single link within an email and they’ve opted-out then there’s a good chance it was automated and their opt-out was a mistake.