Unsubscribes: Another Way Your Users Communicate with You
When people unsubscribe from promotional emails, marketers, especially ones who are new to email, can be startled by the information conveyed in the numbers – a small portion of their users, on average between 0.11 and 0.2 percent of the list according to Marketo, is no longer interested in receiving emails.
The thought of removing precious subscribers from their list, as is required in order to be compliant with CAN-SPAM and email best practice, can make marketers nervous, even when only a couple of readers have chosen to opt out. Knowing why unsubscribes happen, when to expect more, and what to do to reduce them can help ease some of the anxiety that comes with seeing that a user has said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Why users unsubscribe
Unsubscribing is not always a bad thing. Like opens and clicks, it is a way users communicate with marketers, saying, “this is no longer relevant to me.” Sometimes having this intelligence can save money, time and effort that marketers can direct at subscribers who are interested and engaged. There are various reasons why users unsubscribe, including:
The email content in no longer relevant. If a subscriber switches jobs, moves on to a new project or is no longer interested in the content they previously subscribed for, they might opt out. In this case, unsubscribing can be seen as a piece of communication that helps marketers be more informed about their email database.
They’ve received too many emails. When users are overwhelmed by countless updates, invites and meeting requests, any communication that happens too often and doesn’t provide value might not make the cut. It is important for marketers to find an appropriate cadence for email promotions and consistently provide information that is valuable, interesting or useful to the audience.
They never opted in or the opt-in process was unclear. If people haven’t opted in to receive emails or are unclear about what they have signed up for, they might not expect the communication and have an unpleasant experience receiving it. It is best to be upfront about what your users are signing up for and remind them of the reasons, and the associated values, in the email.
They’ve had a poor experience with the brand independent of the email. Brand reputation is crucial and a damaged public opinion can result in a negative user experience and increased unsubscribes, independent of the email. In these cases, providing a good experience through email marketing can be a way of building a positive image of the brand.
What we’ve learned
The BrightTALK email team has analyzed email metrics and best practices to help mitigate unsubscribes. We’ve found that emailing our subscribers about once a week keeps our brand top-of-mind and our users interested, but not irritated. We’ve seen that emails customized for a closely targeted group are more relevant to each subscriber, so we segment our lists to ensure increased relevancy. We’ve learned that users are more likely to stay engaged when they expect to receive the email and are clear about where the content comes from, why it is relevant to them and what the next steps are – and thus we try to be transparent in our opt-in process, communicate value in our email interactions with subscribers and have clear calls to action that leave no doubt about next steps. Recently, we’ve been exploring how listening to user behavior could further improve email. One way to do this would be through a preference center, which allows users to unsubscribe from certain types of emails but continue receiving others, or ‘snooze’ communication for a period of time and then resume email engagement.
Giving users options and respecting their interests and preferences is something every email marketer should consider. Users unsubscribe for many reasons, but it is a marketer’s job to ensure that the ones that continue to engage are having a positive experience with the brand.