Keep E-mail Unsubscribe Rates Low
For any e-mail marketer, having recipients unsubscribe from your program is a fact of life. While a certain amount of churn is normal, a relatively high or climbing unsubscribe rate may be cause to take a closer look at who you’re reaching out to, the content of your messaging and the frequency with which you send messages.
To begin, the methods you use to grow your lists may affect your unsubscribe rates, points out Elaine O’Gorman, vice president of strategy for Atlanta-based e-mail marketing solutions provider Silverpop. In a recent Silverpop study of both B-to-B and B-to-C mailers with lists ranging from 10,000 to as many as 10 million names, the company found a correlation between the aggressiveness of the techniques used to grow lists and the incidents of high opt-out rates. While half of the study participants cited their unsubscribe rates as .5 percent or less, some 40 percent reported having a .5 percent to 2 percent opt-out rate. The rest of the participants reported an opt-out rate of 2 percent or higher. “For people who have opt out rates of greater than 2 percent, they are in general using more high-risk, opt-in methods,” notes O’Gorman. “For instance, they’re using a lot of appends, list rental, [and] they’re using a decent amount of co-registration.” O’Gorman suggests recording the source of your opt-ins, and start analyzing your opt-outs based on how these people got onto your list in the first place. “If you consistently see somebody who came in through a specific channel, whether it’s an append, a list buy or a co-registration—which our most recent list growth study says may be correlated to opt outs—you may ask yourself [if] it really [is] worth what I’m paying for these very expensive channels to get people opted in,” she says.
Keeping track of the tenure of subscribers who have opted out of your program also is extremely revealing, says O’Gorman. “Tracking both your original source and the tenure of people who are opting out and trying to discover trends there are excellent ideas,” she notes. If there is a sudden spike of opt-outs from people who have been on your list for a long time, you need to examine your last several campaigns to see what may have offended that group of people, explains O’Gorman. Meanwhile, if you’re seeing people opt out after a week or a month into your program, you may want to consider implementing a welcoming campaign that eases subscribers into your stream of communications more gradually.