Practical Ecommerce

Hotmail users unsubscribe most but most likely to convert

Have you ever started signing up for a white paper, e-book or guide, entering your free web-based account in the email field, only to see they won’t accept anything other than a business address?

So you reluctantly do so, most likely because if you’re anything like me, you rarely unsubscribe from B2B newsletters.

But for new websites, a competition, or a daily deal, you probably use your Hotmail (or MSN or Live), Gmail or Yahoo account that’s dedicated to newsletters, competitions, social media, special offers and quite possibly, “junk” email. Because it’s free, you don’t care if you discontinue it, as you can quickly open another; if it gets too much spam, you eventually stop opening it altogether.

However, if you pay for an email account, such as through a bundled home telephone and internet package, you are far less likely to abandon that address and therefore take greater care for which websites you sign up.

So I’ve just been poring over my un-subscription figures from the last 12 months looking at some patterns. What email addresses do they have? Of the past year’s un-subscribers, 27% had Hotmail/MSN/Live email addresses. The next highest segment had Gmail addresses (20%), 18% unsubscribed from paid telco accounts, 16% from work email addresses, with Yahoo in fifth place with 14% of un-subscribers.

With six in 10 (61%) of these unsubscribing members belonging to the trifecta of free web-based addresses – Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo – it would be easy to assume that that people who use these free email services are the least engaged members. In short, a freebie-chasing bunch who would never turn into customers, while those with corporate email addresses would be more likely to remain loyal, and make purchases.

But first, when do they tend to unsubscribe? Of those who unsubscribed in the last 12 months, more than one in five (22%) unsubscribed when I sent out the horoscope forecast newsletter on the 1st of the month.

So 78% unsubscribe upon receiving special offers (or more accurately, when they receive too many or not targeted well enough). Of the corporate customers who unsubscribed, 89% of them quit when they received special offers sent outside the regular newsletter. Eight in ten (81%) of my paid telco email account holders hit the unsubscribe button when they received promotions, as did Yahoo subscribers (75%), and Gmail (72%) with Hotmail users (68%) somewhat more accustomed to promotions being emailed occasionally during the month.

Why might they unsubscribe? I’m contacting them more often. From April 1-December 31 2011, I sent out exactly 40 messages to people on my database, a rate of 4.4 emails per month and received a 4% unsubscription rate during this time. But I’ve been growing my database too. So from January 1-April 15 2012, I also sent out 40 messages, a rate of 11.4 per month but received only 3.2% unsubscriptions overall. This year, I have been sending out more – but more segmented and targeted – emails to customers.

Of all customers who have bought at least one product from my website, 32% of them used Hotmail addresses, 20% were paid telco users, followed by those with business, government or education-based email addresses (19%), Gmail (9%) and Yahoo, making up 6% of purchasers.

Of the repeat customers who have purchased on at least two occasions, 46% use a paid telco email address, 21% are Hotmail users, 16% are work-based customers while 11% have Gmail addresses, and 6% have Yahoo accounts.

In summing up these highly subjective figures, it seems Hotmail customers are the most likely to unsubscribe overall thanks to the heavy bombardment of their inboxes, while members with work emails unsubscribe quickly from promotional offers which are not part of the standard newsletter. Hotmail customers provide the best conversion rates, but those who pay for their email addresses through their telco account are the most likely to become repeat customers.

Can you see similar patterns with your customers?


Get the Practical Ecommerce RSS feed

Email Newsletter Signup

Sign up to receive EcommerceNotes,
our acclaimed email newsletter.

And receive a free copy of our ebook
50 Great Ecommerce Ideas