Practical Ecommerce

How to Reduce Email Unsubscribes; 3 Tips

When one considers that 93 percent of American online shoppers receive at least one permission-based email each day, it is little wonder that email marketing is a mainstay of Internet promotion and an excellent source of traffic and sales for ecommerce businesses.

Sometimes, however, those shoppers unsubscribe. In fact, according to a recent Exact Target report — which is also the source of the 93 percent figure mentioned above — 91 percent of American email users have subscribed to a commercial email newsletter only to decide later that they did not want it. That means that over time, a lot of customers and prospects could see a merchant’s unsubscribe page.

Saying goodbye to an email subscriber can be an opportunity, if a marketer can master the email unsubscribe process.

The Exact Target report found that some 42 percent of shoppers surveyed said that they were more likely to buy from a company with which they had an email relationship. Interestingly, however, when those shoppers unsubscribed from a company’s emails, they do not necessarily have any ill will toward that company.

This behavior may indicate that it is all right to engage or even reengage shoppers throughout the opt-out process. To be sure, this is not license to try to sell a would-be unsubscriber. But it is a chance to offer more email options or other forms of engagement.

Provide Frequency Options

Some 54 percent of email subscriber will opt-out when they feel like they are getting too many emails too often from a particular brand or company, according to Exact Target. Essentially, they have email frequency overload.

With this in mind, one step toward mastering the email unsubscribe process is to offer a variety of frequency options. When someone clicks the unsubscribe link at the bottom of an email, aim that link at an unsubscribe landing page — sometimes called an unsubscribe center — that offers frequency alternatives. For example, perhaps a subscriber that was ready to opt-out of weekly emails would be willing to get one email per month, or one per quarter.

Offer contacts the opportunity to change frequency.

Offer contacts the opportunity to change frequency.

Offer More Relevant Lists

Content, or more specifically content relevance, is extremely important in email marketing. For example, 49 percent of email users surveyed said that they unsubscribed because the email content was repetitive, boring, or irrelevant.

Of course, relevance differs from one potential customer to the next. So an email marketer might be wise to offer several email choices — some broad in content scope and some more narrowly aimed at specific identifiable niches.

When a subscriber arrives at the unsubscribe center, include the option to switch to alternative lists. For example, a retailer might have a general list plus lists for each product category.

Offering potentially more relevant emails could save a subscriber.

Offering potentially more relevant emails could save a subscriber.

Offer an Alternative Media or a Sabbatical

According to Exact Target, 47 percent of email subscribers opt-out because they feel like they get too much email in general. A full inbox can add emotional stress as recipients feel the pressure keep up, so it is little wonder that they are seeking a respite.

Consider giving folks the option to subscribe to newsletter content or other marketing materials via a different media. For example, add a link to get an RSS feed instead of the emails, or offer the option to receive a monthly text message with a link to the content.

It may also be a good idea to offer a sabbatical or rest. Just give the subscriber the option to take a one-month break rather than unsubscribe completely.

Offer subscribers the option to take a break can alleviate inbox overflow without ending the relationship.

Offer subscribers the option to take a break can alleviate inbox overflow without ending the relationship.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, mastering the unsubscribe process is about giving contacts more options, not getting in the way. Remember to always make it simple and easy to actually get off of the list.

When it does come to offering options, consider anything that enhances or refines the contact’s experience.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

Bio   •   RSS Feed


email-news-env

Sign up for our email newsletter

  1. Jason Alberts August 7, 2011 Reply

    Successful email marketing is extremely vital for all businesses, especially small businesses. These are all great tips for reducing unsubscribers, as a good email relationship translates into good business. In addition to offering more relevant lists, with customers choosing what types of content to receive, sending video emails is a new, developing trend. Video marketing is very effective, and occasionally sending video emails out to your shoppers (or potential shoppers) will be a change from the monotonous, repetitive emails and can be more appealing for the viewer.

    Jason from @KikScore

  2. ProiMPACT7 August 9, 2011 Reply

    I noticed, not every email provider has such back end settings. Is this a standard feature in email marketing solutions, or does it need to be developed on the client side?

  3. JanineGregor August 10, 2011 Reply

    Like ProiMP,

    I have not seen any email unsubscribe centers in some of the major autoresponder programs. I think that landing pages would need to be created and then those links included in the autoresponder program.

    But if an unsubscribe center was available, I certainly believe what you say is excellent. I like the ‘take a break’ idea.

    Thank you!

    Janine Gregor
    Social Media Virtual Assistant
    http://www.YourVirtualWizard.com