breaking up with email subscribers

Like old clothes that no longer fit, sometimes you need to throw out some of your email subscribers. Gasp. Yes, the folks you wooed into joining your list, who now have you on ignore. These subscribers are hurting your overall email marketing efforts by:

  • Not opening or clicking on your emails over a set period
  • Deflating your open and click-thru percentages
  • Alienating potential customers
  • Bloating your conception of the size of your list
  • Diminishing the overall authority of your list, and boosting your odds of being rejected by servers or spamming out

Don’t take it personally. The email market is projected to top 4.9 billion users by 2023, which means that every email competes with the 120 emails the average office worker receives every day. To burst through this crowd, you need to nail every aspect of your mail execution, from your list and content to design and code.

Related: Get More from Your Email with a Dose of List Hygiene

What causes unsubscribes?

Your unsubscribe rate should be less than .5 percent. Anything higher warrants a close look at the reasons list members typically depart your list.

  • You're emailing them too frequently
  • The mobile presentation is scrambled
  • Unprofessional design
  • Spammy behavior (Words that make spam filters grouchy) and constant selling
  • They’re not digging your content or it’s irrelevant
  • They don’t recall signing up, especially true with purchased and affinity lists

High unsubscribes are often accompanied by high bounce rates, anything over 2 percent. Review the reasons your email provider provides for the bounces. “Blocked by server” or a message tagged as spam show you’re in unsubscribe trouble, or it looms ahead.

Sign them up the right way

The key to a happy and contented subscriber list starts with the initial signup. Forms on your website should state what the user will receive and how often. After signup, they should receive another email called a double opt-in to verify their email address and to confirm their interest in the list. Trying to revive old lists and using affinity lists from brokers are a sure signs that you’re in for an unsubscribe problem.

Make it easy to unsubscribe

Unsubscribe links are a legal requirement. But many senders, as if embarrassed by them, stick the links at the bottom of emails in small or poorly contrasting type or embed them in other copy. Be proud of your unsubscribe link. It shows your using best practices and you value the privacy of your users. Make sure that users can leave your list with a single click. Don’t interrogate them about why or presenting pleading “are you sure” messages. The consumer has spoken. Honor her request.

Put the subscriber in control

One way to stave off subscribers before they bolt is using a subscription preferences center and linking to it in your emails. This allows users to determine which emails they wish to receive and adjust the frequency.

Break up with them before they break up with you

One of the best tools for corralling inactive subscribers back into the fold is a reengagement campaign. This is a simple email that allows them to confirm their interest with a double opt-in or unsubscribe altogether. You can send this email to your entire list or to your unengaged subscribers. Make the copy short, for example:

“Hi, Bob, we noticed you haven’t opened our email in a few months. Let us know that you’re still interested in our mailings by clicking the confirm button (which triggers an opt-in email). Otherwise, click the unsubscribe button, and we’ll immediately remove you from our list.

Comments: Bill Abramovitz