Why Subscribers Unsubscribe From Your E-mail List and What to Do About It
Nearly every teenager and adult has experienced the heartbreak of a broken relationship. When faced with unreciprocated love, it’s natural to ask questions like: What’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong? How can I change?
The same is true with your e-mail subscribers. In an ideal world, your subscribers would never want to unsubscribe from your list. They'd stay in love with you forever.
A look at your list unveils those subscribers who are drifting away from you. They’re easy to spot — they’re the ones who no longer open or engage with your messages.
When this happens, an amicable parting of the ways may be in the best interest of both parties. Lack of engagement drives down your metrics and yields poor results for your campaigns.
Just like the teenager who questions why the relationship went south, it’s important to gain feedback from members who unsubscribe so you can gain valuable insight into how to make your e-mail marketing strategy better.
You can do this by supplying a “Reason for Unsubscribe” button on your unsubscribe page, then listening carefully to what people say. Here are some real examples of reasons recipients give when unsubscribing and what they mean:
They said: “It’s like you eat hot dogs every day; you don’t like 'em anymore.”
What it means: Your e-mails were sent too frequently for these subscribers. Was this expectation set when the subscribers opted in, or has the frequency increased over time? Is this type of complaint common? If your product or service doesn't require daily e-mails, less frequent e-mails may produce better results without annoying subscribers.
They said: “Same info on Web site.”
What it means: Instead of repurposing your Web site's content, give these subscribers a reason to receive your e-mails. Include content in your e-mails that the audience won’t find anywhere else — exclusive articles/interviews, special savings, promotions, downloadable offers, among other things. This increases the value of your e-mails to subscribers and makes your newsletter more attractive to prospective subscribers.
They said: “E-mails don’t inform — they just sell.”
What it means: These subscribers aren’t getting what was expected. Make sure new subscribers have a good understanding of what they opted in to receive. If they’re opting in to receive information on new products, tell them that. If they’re opting in to receive tips and user information, make that clear. Don’t abuse the opt-in list by sending sales-oriented e-mails to the list that opted in to receive user tips.
They said: “E-mails don’t display properly.”
What it means: Using an inbox preview function can help identify display errors within your e-mails by viewing them in a variety of e-mail clients prior to sending. This allows for such errors to be corrected before anyone outside of your company sees them. Inbox preview is especially important for seeing how e-mails render in the "images off" mode using a variety of e-mail programs. Taking the time to ensure the readability of your e-mails is crucial to their effectiveness.
They said: “Old e-mail address I don’t use anymore.”
What it means: Do your "subscriber preferences" offer any way for users to update their contact information? These recipients may want to remain subscribers but no longer use the e-mail address you have on your list.
While most breakups hurt at first, gathering information about the unsubscribe will make you a more attractive suitor in the long run.
Jordan Ayan is the CEO and founder of SubscriberMail, a Lisle, Ill.-based e-mail marketing firm, and author of "The Practical Guide to E-mail Marketing: Strategies and Tactics for Inbox Success." You can reach him at Jordan@subscribermail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jordanayan.