I’ve written several times before about managing email opt-outs (Here’s a short list). One issue that I continue to encounter with my clients is that the management of opt-outs tends to be too broad. That is, the opt-out is all or nothing; say yes and I’ll send everything, say no and you’ll receive nothing.
We need to get better and segmenting our marketing and, by extension, segmenting our opt-outs. A good starting place for associations is to segment opt-outs by functional areas. For example, have separate opt-outs for events promotion, product promotions, sponsorship promotions, and so on. If you promote membership by email, have one for that, too. (But don’t have an opt-out for renewal notices!)
For your members, you should explain to them that by virtue of being a member, there are some email messages they cannot opt-out of, like official association business (e.g., emails announcing by laws changes, elections, etc.).
Oh, and be sure your opt-out message is clear. I receive emails almost daily from organizations that I want to continue to hear from, but just not about that particular topic. And I’m often left wondering “If I click this unsubscribe link am I opting out of everything or just this type of email?”