(Updated July 2018) Just as it’s hard not to take personally the sit-down conversation over a glass of wine that often begins with: “we need to talk” and ends with: “it’s not you, it’s me,” seeing a former subscriber go strikes a very familiar emotion-cocktail of confused/hurt/angry/dumbstruck feelings. But as with breakups, each goodbye offers an opportunity to learn from the experience and make improvements.
These are the most common reasons your subscribers may choose to opt-out of your email marketing campaign (and how you can learn from them to either win your subscribers back, and/or move on to new and other subscriber-fish in the sea)!
1. An out-of-control inbox. When subscribers feel overwhelmed by their overloaded inbox, they may enact a slash-and-burn approach to cleaning out their email. Much like the spring clean that leaves closets nearly bare and drawers unstuffed, these users may unsubscribe “en masse.”
The solution? Win them back. Many times these subscribers choose to enact a “start fresh” approach, re-subscribing to those newsletters and email marketing campaigns they miss. This is a perfect opportunity for cross-channel marketing. If you’ve lost an email subscriber, chances are they are still a direct mail customer, Facebook fan and/or Twitter follower. Now is the time to tap into the power of your social channel marketing efforts to bring them back into the welcome arms of your email list by cross-promoting specials, coupons, information, or other promotions only available via email.
2. Your relationship has changed. The one thing you can count on is change. Customers cancel services, or move into new industries or new locations or jobs. Kids grow up. Interests change. Hobbies change. People age. Simply put, your email marketing messages might no longer address their needs. Just like #1, this reason is pure and simple: “It’s not you, it’s me.”
The solution? Just like that amicable breakup, there’s not too much you can do about this goodbye. And that’s okay. You want a list made up of quality, not quantity. Let them move on.
3. Your emails don’t render on their email platform or device. Most people now open their emails first on a mobile device. If your emails don’t render or work well on a smart phone, your user may become frustrated with unreadable messages and say “adieu!”
The solution? Okay, it may not technically be you; maybe it’s tech. But that doesn’t mean you should shrug your shoulders and give up on these subscribers. Adhering to email marketing best practices means that it’s up to you to change with the times and stay up-to-date on technology trends and options. Make sure you’re doing mobile-first marketing with emails that render well on smart phones–complete with call-to-action buttons for fat fingers!
4. You send too many—or too few—messages. Don’t contribute to an overflowing inbox by sending too many unwanted messages. Even the most compelling messages can go unread if there are too many of them. The converse holds true too: If you hardly ever touch base with customers, they may wonder why—or if—they ever opted in, in the first place.
The solution? Use email preference centers both at opt-in and opt-out points. Putting the control in the hands of your subscribers will ultimately work to enhance your overall email marketing best practices. And by giving them the option to change the frequency of emails before confirming an unsubscribe, they might choose to reduce the frequency of emails and stick around a bit longer!
5. They feel neglected or they’re bored. The classic “It’s not you, it’s me” double message that really means: “I’ve moved on.” In email marketing, this means you’re guilty of boring, repetitive, generalized, or otherwise unfocused content. Everyone wants to feel special and known, and that holds true for your subscribers. If they feel as though the content you’re sending is no longer relevant to who they are or what they need or want, or it’s the same old stuff each time, they’re out the door.
The solution? Increase the relevancy of your content. Segment and target your email marketing messages to the different and unique subscribers who are interested in you. Make your subscribers feel like they’re number one on your list and you’re talking directly to them. And avoid boring, repetitive content at all costs!