Lowering your unsubscribe rate won’t be a road paved with clear-cut answers. Expert marketer Pam Neely put it this way: “No matter how perfect your marketing is, you’re going to lose some subscribers along the way and you just may struggle with understanding why people unsubscribe from your email campaigns.” Contacts opt-out of your list for different reasons. For some, their situation has changed from when they first joined your list. Others unsubscribe because they’re not fans of your copy or branding.
There are people whose inboxes are so crowded, they can’t open new emails until they delete others, so they trim down their subscriptions. No matter the reason, you want to ensure you’re doing your best to keep subscribers interested in your newsletters. Here are four strategies for reducing your unsubscribe rate.
#1 Take Segmentation One Step Further
It’s well known, but still bears repeating: segmentation is different from personalization. The former entails categorizing your contacts based on the data you have about them, relevant to your business. Personalization, on the other hand, is understanding what your customer segments want and delivering an individualized experienced based off the data you’ve collected from them. The deeper segment your customers, the better you’ll become at sending the right message to contacts at the right time, which reduces unsubscribe rates.
And the deeper you go into email personalization, the higher your chances for connecting with subscribers and keeping yourself off the unsubscribe list. Shanelle Mullin of ConversionXL said, “personalization goes far beyond using a first name in the subject line or a job title in the body or even sending based on their time zone. That’s what personalization was at conception. Now, it’s evolved into a much more powerful tool.”
How do delve deeper into email segmentation and personalization? Take segmentation beyond “active or inactive” contacts, start segmenting by purchase history, activity, personas, interest level and other relevant activities. Start digging into your data to gain a clearer picture of who your customers are and their interests, job titles, industry, etc. A simple email surveying what they’d like to see in your emails is a good start as well.
#2 Selling is good, engagement is better.
Sales emails are a no-no for a lot of people. People open less than 24% of sales emails. If customers dislike sales emails this much, they might unsubscribe even if they open them. Why? Well, sales emails are designed to cost people money, and everyone likes free stuff; we always prefer freebies to paying for goods and services
Does this mean people unsubscribe from every sales email they get? Definitely not. We still hear many stories of how email is selling for businesses. Dell, for instance, after launching a GIF-heavy email marketing campaign, lifted their revenue by 109%.
So sales emails still work, but people don’t like to see them that much, and this can result in some level of unsubscription. The key is engagement. Even if you’re going to sell something, seek to engage the customer before doing anything else.
In a post on Zapier, Noah Kagan of AppSumo says, “Just ask yourself if your emails are valuable even if your potential customer never buys.”
If it’s engaging, there’s not much chance people will be pull themselves from your list. No one says, “This email is too engaging; I need to unsubscribe.”
#3 Email frequency
Data from Chadwick Martin Bailey reveals that the top reason people opt out of email marketing is simply that they receive too many emails.
Choke people with too many emails and they’ll start wondering if staying on your list is worth the stress of seeing your email multiple times a day or week.
How many emails should you send per day, week or month? There’s really no one-size-fits-all answer to this. It works differently for different brands and in different industries.
“In 2015, 25% of respondents were sending just one email per month to each contact. Of course, this data is cross-sector, so we would expect some types of businesses such as retailers and publishers to email at least weekly, possibly daily.” — Dave Chaffey of Smart Insights.
You want to figure out what works for your business and industry. You can send your subscribers a short email, asking when they’d like to be getting your emails. Another way to find out is to look at your in-house data and analyze the activity levels when you send out emails two times per day vs. emailing once per day, and so on.
#4 Find out why unsubscribers are unsubscribing
When subscribers start looking for that tiny unsubscribe link in your email, there’s little chance they’ll change their minds about opting out once they find the link. But knowing why subscribers are opting out will help you prevent others from leaving your email list. If you’ve unsubscribed from any email lately, you’ve notice the emailers want to know why you’re leaving. When anyone takes their name off your list, you should ask the same question: why are you leaving?
While some contacts will be forthright about why they’re unsubscribing, many others don’t have the time or just aren’t inclined to respond. You can make it easy for them share their input by using email unsubscribe pages that motivate them to do so; here are nine email unsubscribe pages from Hubspot you can learn from, so even if you’re losing one customer, you can prevent others from abandoning ship for the same reason.
Using the best strategies to reduce unsubscription rates doesn’t mean you won’t see people leave your list, but you can reduce the damage, but you may be able to proactively prevent similar situations depending on your strategy. Use the tips above wisely to keep your contacts happy, and most will never entertain the thought of leaving.