This blog post comes from our Expert Advice series where we ask marketing or entertainment industry professionals for some valuable insight into important discussions we’re having on our LinkedIn group or on Linkedin Answers.
Perhaps not the most obscure query in the world of online marketing, but certainly one that seems to crop up a great deal is preventing unsubscribes from your email newsletter campaign. Is there anything you can do to prevent people permanently leaving your newsletter behind?
On the other hand, is it such a bad thing – perhaps every unsubscriber is someone receiving the email in error and it’s a good thing you’re clearing them off the list.
To clarify, we’re not talking about hiding the unsubscribe link or making it physically difficult for your readers to unsubscribe – hopefully they’ve chosen to receive your emails! We spoke to some members of our LinkedIn group and other experts from LinkedIn Answers about some of the best techniques to avoid too many unsubscribes from email campaigns – the bane of any email marketer. Here’s what they had to say.
Keeping Unsubscribes low – the DOs!
Let your audience guide and engage with your content
Lee Clouse – It should start with knowing who your subscribers are. Then, what do they want? Do they prefer long form content or are they looking for bulleted quick hits? If you don’t know this information already, poll them to help you build a better newsletter. To borrow from Seth Godin, make them feel like part of a tribe–your tribe.
Beyond that your readers must find value in the content that you provide. The content must engage and connect them in some way. Make it easy to comment and share.
Dave Minkin – Provide content that will encourage subscribers to stay…
Run an opt-in campaign
Kristina Stiffler – When they signup for the newsletter have clear opt-in information. For example, does opting into the newsletter also opt you into promotional mailings? Is that clear on the opt-in form? If not, you’ll have people feeling upset they’re getting content they “didn’t sign up for” and they’ll unsubscribe from the newsletter to get rid of the other.
Think carefully about the frequency of your emails
Mark E. Anderson – Don’t send too frequently, receiving too many email messages is the number one reason why consumers unsubscibe according to a recent survey by Exact Target.
Jeff Tincher – Do NOT flood your list members with numerous emails about the same topic (if you have an event or product you are promoting, sure, sending multiple emails is a good practice, but not every week)
An unsubscribe is better than a ‘report spam’ click
Shankar Barua – Why not look at unsubscribes as a desirable culling process? After all, why would you want to communicate with anyone who does not want to read what you offer?
Remember the value of testing
Kristina Stiffler – Test everything. Headlines, subject lines, format, number of articles, frequency of mailing, etc. Start your tests with the information your audience provides via a poll or other feedback and then test, test, test.
Jeff Tincher – Definitely A/B test your subject line and sending time.
Segment your emails for different subscriber lists
Jeff Tincher – Make sure you’re not sending an email to people that won’t care! For example, you’re selling ski equipment and discount passes to Colorado. Do you really want to be sending that message to people in sunny Florida?
Keep it clean and keep your unsubscribe link in clear view
Gideon Roberts – There’s one newsletter I subscribe to because it consistently contains useful info… He plays the opposite game to marketers who think they’re clever by hiding the unsubscribe button… (sic) This I think is key – if people know they can unsubscribe very easily they’re perhaps less inclined to. He also covers the problem of most newsletters arriving late/sporadically very nicely by being up front about it.
Mike Kissel – Preventing someone from unsubscribing from your list is a violation of CAN-SPAM. Dave hit the nail on the head.
The experts came to a reasonably tight consensus on how to avoid too many unsubscribes, although everyone conceded that they are inevitable and an email campaign that successfully arrives with people who aren’t interested at all is pointless, so if a few unsubscribes mean your emails are more targeted then so much the better. With this in mind you should segment different emails for different subscriber lists and make sure to keep your content as relevant as possible for the people reading it. Hope that helped and let us know know how you get on with your email campaigns.