Assert yourself: unsubscribing from emails isn’t necessarily bad.
That seems a bit counterintuitive. After all, isn’t list size one of the key metrics we have to report to senior management? Aren’t we always looking for more and more subscribers? Isn’t list growth the primary metric by which to gauge the performance of our advertising, marketing, and content?
The truth is, the list size is a false metric. You may have to explain this to your boss. The exception would be for businesses that earn revenue based on internal CPM advertising or sponsorship of their emails. However, for most organizations, there are more important goals in terms of engagement and corresponding KPIs.
Here are five examples of the benefits of losing subscribers, and what you can learn from those who opt out:
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1. A list rife with inactive subscribers will mess up your email performance metrics.
Truly disengaged people are just diluting the actual metrics you use to optimize your email performance. Ten thousand unbroken subscribers would completely obfuscate the real learning from the 1,000 that have interacted.
Improvement opportunities: If subscribers haven’t clicked through in the previous six months, start a last-chance re-engagement campaign. If there are still no responses, delete and archive them.
2. Email unsubscribes are an indicator of list quality.
How were those emails initially handled? Under falsehood or misleading falsehood? Are they really a legitimate option? Did they get through a low-commitment sweepstakes or contest entry?
Opportunities for Improvement: Clean up your list growth processes — forms, CTAs, messages — to focus on and engage the most qualified customers and leads. Otherwise, you are wasting their time and yours.
3. Email unsubscribe signals how well you’re doing with email segmentation, content, frequency, relevance, and CTA.
Regardless of how subscribers were collected, if the message is irrelevant, the format is not suitable for the recipient’s device, or the time period is too frequent and offensive, expect the best relaxation and finally opt out.
Improvement opportunities: Test each email variable with a repeatable, controlled — even simple process A / Split test B – to help you continuously learn and optimize for each audience segment. Unless your total list size is less than 2,500, you should always test some aspect of each submission.
4. Treat subscription relationships like dating. Maybe they don’t love you yet — not yet.
If things don’t work out for the other person, see it as an alternative to a complete breakup (unsubscribe), allowing the recipient to change the relationship.
Opportunities for improvement: Let them take a break and pause the email for a while. Let them reduce the frequency to the recipient’s preference. Allow recipients to change the type of content you’re sending. These and more options should be offered in a user-controlled preference center. If/when you receive a click-through to unsubscribe, offer these alternatives to end the relationship altogether.
5. And if you can’t save the relationship — it’s the ultimate breakup — ask “why?”
Of course, you’ll never 100% unsubscribe to share their reasons, but, if executed well (even cleverly or humorously), over time you’ll gather enough data data to draw some conclusions about why subscribers leave.
Opportunities for improvement: That final unsubscribe confirmation screen will provide 4-7 options for a fugitive subscriber to tell you why they left. You can even put it on the original unsubscribe page as long as the actual unsubscribe button is clearly available directly below the optional (never required) checkbox selections. It could be them. That could be you. You won’t know unless you ask.