After a certain amount of time, some subscribers will choose to leave your email list, no matter how hard your attempts to keep them. Don’t worry. It’s the nature of any permission-marketing channel that the final decision and control over receiving the messages rest in the hands of subscribers.
So, it is okay to accept unsubscribes as a fact of life and not take them personally.
You can also take some steps to reduce the number of unsubscribes by not only honoring the cornerstones of permission (choice and control), but also expanding the options you offer.
Here are five specific steps you can take to avoid email subscribers from leaving your list. These tips are also very useful to improve the user’s experience concerning your email program.
1. Opt-down as an alternative to opt-out
Probably the most popular and effective deterrent to an email opt-out is a practice known as the ‘opt-down’. In short, an ‘opt down’ means to “reduce email frequency”. For the subscribers of many retailers, publishers, and other high-volume senders of email, the opt-down provides the breathing room and relief that subscribers need to avoid feeling smothered by a brand in the inbox.
Either frequency is a significant reduction in volume from daily and provides enough relief to make subscribers on the fence about staying on the list much more comfortable with sticking around.
2. Provide category-specific selections
Opting down in promotional email marketing is a logical choice, but it’s not the only way subscribers can stem the rising tide of email. For many marketers (business-to-business, travel, services), a high volume of email messages is the result not of constant promotional offers but the overall mix of many different message types.
When you combine newsletters, video/blog content, event-related messages, triggered email, and reminders/alerts with promotional offers, sometimes it makes more sense to offer category opt-downs vs. frequency opt-downs, since many subscribers will be satisfied to maintain a minimum level of contact rather than unsubscribe completely, giving them an option to remain subscribed to your email newsletter is an excellent option.
3. Include an email “change-of-address” function
The third way to give subscribers the choice and control they need to avoid leaving your list is to allow them to change or update their email address. The fact is, people will need or want to update the email address they’ve given you for many reasons, hera are the most common:
- They change email account providers due to a move or job change.
- They revise their chosen subscribed address from a work to a personal email address (or vice versa).
- They abandon a consumer email account that is receiving overwhelming, unstoppable amounts of spam for a clean new primary email address.
If your subscribers want to update their email address with you, let them do so. Provide a function that allows them to do that.
4. Pay attention to message format choices
Nowadays, with the fact that nearly 60% of all email being opened on mobile devices, message format and rendering become the main concern. Often, to stay interested and engaged with your email messages, subscribers need to receive your emails in a more easy-to-read format. That means offering them the choice of plain text vs. HTML, or allowing them to indicate the device on which they normally interact with email. These options can be integrated into your unsubscribe pages to mitigate opt-outs, into an email (or overall account) preferences center, or both.
If you suspect message format and rendering issues might be causing people to leave your list, offering simplified format choices is a must.
5. Communicate beyond email
Finally, just because someone leaves your email list doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to hear from you at all anymore. If they have been a customer before leaving your email list, make sure to keep in touch through alternative channels, such as direct mail, catalog, and social media. Track a list member’s buying behavior after the unsubscribe. Chances are, they may simply not be a fan of email as a marketing channel. However, they might be still fond of your brand.
Be selective. Don’t cease all communication to subscribers who opt out of email. Monitoring customer engagement and purchase history across all channels is essential to knowing where and through which it economically pays to continue customer communication, reduce it, or cease it altogether.
Whenever you see the email list opt-out as a learning opportunity rather than a loss, you will see it in a more positive light and reap additional insight into your subscriber base. Activating even a few of the ideas above will not only help you keep more email list members but also tell you a lot about where you can improve your programs to prevent opt-outs or complaints in the future.