9 ways to reduce email unsubscribes

9 ways to reduce email unsubscribes

A well-oiled email marketing strategy can be unsurpassable in terms of Rate of Investments and audience engagement. So, what are the myriad ways companies can keep their database plump and receptive and reduce unsubscribes? Here are 9 ways.

1. Make it clear what the user is signing up for

There’s a balance to be had between maximizing ease of email sign-up and offering the user options for subscription. Giving the user tick boxes to choose from, for example, male or female fashion updates, newsletters or sale alerts, weekly or monthly updates, could potentially decrease conversion of your signup field, even if it stands to increase subsequent engagement of subscribers. What is paramount is that users know they are indeed signing up to receive emails, and understand what these emails will include. If there’s no clarity, what such confusion does is increases the number of people who subscribe in error and then swiftly unsubscribe, unnecessarily blurring engagement rates in your data.

2. Send more emails (i.e. conduct frequency testing)

Testing email frequency is important, and indeed it will be one of the main factors influencing unsubscribe rate. However, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to frequency – implications of engagement levels can be difficult to tease out. For example, users sporadically interact with some services and companies (e.g. we may buy a holiday on average once a year), but that doesn’t mean these companies won’t benefit from a branding perspective by emailing every week. Customers, too, may be happy to keep these companies front-of-mind, in preparation for a big annual purchase, or simply on the off chance that an enticing promotion is offered. Re-sending a newsletter daily for seven days to non-openers was shown to be advantageous, giving a 255% uplift against control, with greater than 99.9% confidence.

3. Get feedback from unsubscribers

A rather obvious one, this, but there are different ways in which you can do it. It’s common practice to offer users a list of reasons for unsubscribe and necessitate that one is chosen in order to complete. However, I quite like the approach taken by Kogan.com. As the screenshot below shows, I was allowed to unsubscribe before being presented with an open text field where I was asked to provide feedback. This appealed to my vanity (my opinion matters!) and I’m sure it will garner some instructive feedback.

4. Allow for a change of heart

Kogan.com again. Immediately after I’ve hit unsubscribe, I’m allowed to recant. I’d love to see data showing how often the ‘no’ option is chosen. My hunch is not very often, but it’s an interesting tactic, making sure that no recipients unsubscribe in error.

5. Automate

Tying email timing and content to the customer lifecycle / sales cycle allows brands to deliver more relevant messaging that can help to increase engagement and reduce unsubscribes.

This can include:

  • A programme of welcome emails
  • Notification of products back in stock
  • New stores opening near you
  • Incentivising product reviews
  • Basket abandonment emails
  • ‘Recently browsed’ emails
  • Loyalty rewards

6. Recognise unsubscribe trends and re-engage

Set criteria for what an inactive subscriber is and move these recipients to a re-engagement segment.
 The soon-to-unsubscribe might be characterised by a drop-off in opens and clicks at certain points in the customer lifecycle. Looking at hurdle rates can help e.g. 30% of purchasers have clicked or opened within the last six months.

7. Segment

Segmentation may be considered by some to be the old-fashioned cousin of automation, but designing content for different audience demographics is obviously still a valuable strategy. For example, if an estate agent wanted to send out some content/research about Kenya’s house prices, it would get more engagement if it tailored and targeted this content to specific regions in the Kenya.

A B2B company may want to segment an audience into purchasers, decision makers, CEOs etc. knowing that each audience desires different information. Ultimately, a marketing department should be able to use knowledge of its products, content and audience to ramp up customer interest.

8. Test subject lines

Optimizing open rates by testing subject lines doesn’t mean unsubscribes will dwindle. Just because more recipients are opening your messages, doesn’t mean they’re any more relevant. However, it’s clear that the more intriguing subject lines are, the more an impression of value is conveyed. This may be enough to placate some users.

9. Establish Comms elsewhere

Lastly, it’s important to note that relevance doesn’t have to be created solely within the email channel itself. Communicating with a customer offline or through other online channels can add context to email comms. Partly, this is rationale for automation, but it’s also a reminder that a phone call or direct mail can be your most powerful engagement tactic.

I hope this nine ways will be able to help you keep your current subscribers and even increase the numbers.



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