I would suggest building out a preference center form/page with all your brands included? All emails will then be pointed to this unsubscribe page.
The user then has the option to opt out of a specific brand OR opt out of all the emails (so unsubscribed = true will hold the correct meaning.)
You definitely do not want something along the lines of overwriting unsubscribe back to false unless the user has specified this and there are a lot of compliances issues around this as well.
Hope this helps
Honestly... Best practice in my mind is not to mess with the default unsubscribe field.
I operate an instance that has multiple brands; we have custom unsubscribe pages for each brand and custom unsubscribe fields for them. If someone follows a standard unsubscribe process by filling out the form, they're only unsubscribed from that brand; that brand's unsub field is marked as true and we filter it for all sends for that brand. If they mark it as spam, that does hit the default field and yes they are effectively unsubscribed from all brands.
Other people on community may have ideas for ways to manage those spam unsubscribes at a brand level, but personally I can't think of a solution that carries a low enough level of risk that I'd be comfortable with it in a post-GDPR world. To be totally frank, if you're using custom fields for each brand and basically the only ones that hit the default unsub are people who have flagged spam, and that's a large enough group that you're concerned about losing them, you might have other issues to address more urgently.
It's worth remembering that if those people do have a genuine relationship with your other brands, they're still going to be able to receive operational emails. I would think a safer option might be to be able to include a message in those operational emails that offers these unsubscribed people the opportunity to customise their preferences so they can set those brand specific unsub values and overwrite the global one themselves - safer largely because it's them that do it and not you trying to interpret their intention from a spam unsubscribe.
I would also lean toward an all-brand email preference center where a lead can opt in/out of specific brands or all OR building a custom unsubscribe page with a brand-specific unsubscribe field for each brand. It's really dangerous to start playing with automation to undo unsubscribes. I strongly recommend using a "marketable" segmentation for everyone anyway, but in this case you could have "Marketable - Brand A", "Marketable - Brand B" segmentations built out and include the brand specific unsubscribe field = false in there to make sure it's included in every email send for that brand.
Side note since you mentioned it - I would also strongly recommend having brand specific naming conventions anyway, even if you aren't using it to manage unsubscribes. It will help tremendously with things like reporting, lead routing, etc.
The brands are not related in the minds of the customer so it would be separate unsubscribe pages for each - which is already the path we are going down. At the moment the forms on these pages have "unsubscribed" = true as a hidden field. It makes sense to remove this then, no? Realistically there shouldn't be an option to unsubscribe from all the brands at the same time I don't think. That would be the equivalent of receiving an email from Coke and unsubscribing from Dasani as well. There's a parent brand but the marketing is totally separate.
Overall it seems my core question is not "solvable" in that if someone marks as spam and unsubscribe is written to be true then there isn't really anything that can be done about the "collateral damage" brands. Maybe that's a good thing. But if my counterparts at the other company decide to buy a list and email out, generating a lot of spam complaints, it's not ideal that our company also will see unsubscribes. But hey, it seems that them's the breaks
Just throwing in another idea. You could use the default unsubscribe so that the client can indicate that they want to unsubscribe from all marketing emails from [company name]. I would definitely look to approach your legal team or someone who would understand the business requirements and then determine a solution accordingly.
The last thing we all want is to create rules that will bypass legal implications for the org.
Hope this helps!
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That risk of others' behaviour is an issue those of us with multiple brands and users deal with a lot
My biggest recommendation here (I harp on about it a lot in community and in real life) is training, process and documentation - it's critical if the actions of one brand have the potential to adversely impact the integrity of the instance and the deliverability of all brands. Implement best practice processes, require users to be adequately trained and require that documented processes around build, checklisting and sign offs that must be demonstrably followed.
It can seem painful to implement, but in my experience actually adding those processes to each iteration doesn't add that much time - often it actually has the opposite effect. It usually results in users who are more effective and accountable within the system, who make fewer mistakes and require less oversight (yay).
Another question on this. Since I'll now be removing the ''unsubscribed'' hidden field in my Marketo unsubscribe pages (to avoid the nuclear option when they only need to unsubscribe from one brand) how will this affect unsubscribe reporting on each email send? I'm not sure how Marketo could know any unsubscribe numbers if instead of having that field on the page that is submitted via the form, it's changing a different field entirely.
How do others manage this?