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Dealing with The Dreaded Email Unsubscribe

Although unsubscribes have some benefits, your goal is still to avoid them whenever possibleYou craft the perfect marketing email, complete with an attention-grabbing subject line, and you’re convinced it’s the best possible email you could send. Yet, someone still clicks “unsubscribe.” Although this might seem like a marketer’s nightmare, no brand’s unsubscribe rate is zero. However, if yours is above 0.5% or so, it’s a good indication that the issue needs some attention.

Looking at reasons for unsubscribes

There are several reasons why people unsubscribe from email lists. Probably the most common cause is that people receive too many emails. Other people complain about receiving irrelevant emails or too-frequent emails from the same company. Growing tired of receiving pushy sales messages, not having time to read the emails, and receiving emails containing the same ads and messages that they receive in print are a few more reasons people unsubscribe.

Unsubscribes aren’t entirely negative. There’s a bright side, too. First, an unsubscribe means that the recipient of your messages decided to opt out rather than report your emails as spam; this helps you maintain a good sender reputation. Second, unsubscribes give you an opportunity to find out why the person unsubscribed and gain feedback on what you could do better in the future. Not everyone will share this information, but some will, and it can help you improve. Finally, once uninterested parties unsubscribe, you are left with an email list that contains only qualified contacts.

Minimizing unsubscribes

Although unsubscribes have some benefits, your goal is still to avoid them whenever possible. Here are some ways to accomplish that.

  • Segment your list. Divide your subscriber list into categories such as age, gender, purchase history, education, or job. Doing so allows you to personalize emails according to the subscriber’s preferences, which makes it more likely that each reader will find the content of your emails relevant to them.
  • Know your buyer’s journey. Gather as much subscriber information as you can through lead-nurturing campaigns and then put it to use as you map your email content accordingly.
  • Don’t overdo the emails. It’s a good idea to test your frequency and to use a custom frequency for each segment of your list. Keep watch on your open rate. When you’ve pinned down a frequency that works, keep it consistent so that your subscribers know when to expect communication from you.
  • Provide options. On your unsubscribe page, include options for alternative methods of communication, such as social media icons, so that your readers have a way to stay in touch after they unsubscribe.
  • Use the feedback you receive. If you give them a chance, many recipients will share why they’re unsubscribing. Reflect on this feedback and let it help you determine what you can improve regarding your email strategy, and then make the necessary changes. Also, respect their preferences: if a subscriber says they want only informative emails, avoid promotional ones.

The better your emails are, the fewer unsubscribes you’ll end up with and the happier your readers will be–a win-win.