People unsubscribe from email lists all the time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, those that unsubscribe are making it easier for you. They are no longer interested and have updated your email database for you. In this way, your email marketing reaches the best audience.

However, despite the benefits of an accurate list, it’s also good to have a robust list. After all, you want to grow your subscribers rather than watch them shrink. That’s why you want to focus on engaging subscribers.  If they have unsubscribed, there are still steps you can take to win them back.

Why people unsubscribe

There are many reasons why your subscribers have opted out from continuing to receive your emails. The first may be that they no longer need what you are offering them because they have solved the need or problem they had. If you are a local business, they may have moved out of the area and can no longer benefit from what you offer. Or, it may be that they do not feel engaged with your brand or marketing messages.

Another big reason people unsubscribe is because our emails may not be optimized for mobile phones. More people than ever like to read their emails on their phones because of the convenience of handling these on the go. However, if they can’t read your email newsletter or messaging, they won’t want to keep receiving it.

Additionally, you may not be sending emails to your subscribers at a good time. This is when you need to do an A/B split test to determine when the majority of your subscribers are reading an email from you. Most often, people are reading their personal emails on breaks, early morning, and evening. If you’re a B2B company, then the best time to send is during work hours.  However, conducting tests will show you if this is a reason there are unsubscribers.

Lastly, you may not be doing anything that really gets their attention or interest. Your lack of frequency or relevant content can be sending them away. Without providing that regular value, your subscribers may be turning elsewhere for the information they are seeking.

Steps to keep them subscribed after they hit unsubscribe

There are some tactics you can implement as they unsubscribe that may turn their decision around. Remember that you must have an unsubscribe button or link on an email. Consider these steps to keep them subscribed:

  • Consider adding some humor to emails to ask subscribers to stick to. Laughter and humor help create a bond to encourage subscribers to continue with their subscription. While the modern trend of communication being mostly stale and impersonal, a little touch of light laughter can do the trick.
  • Don’t make them re-enter their email to unsubscribe. That will frustrate them more and will give them an even greater reason to continue with the unsubscribe process.
  • Ask them why they are leaving your page in the form of a multiple choice question so you can learn more about it. Again, just the small effort you make to communicate at this stage in the relationship could bring it back from the brink.  They may see you as caring or polite by doing this and decide to stay. Even if they continue the unsubscribe process, you’ll have some data that can inform you on what type of changes to make before you lose more subscribers.
  • Give them an additional opportunity to stay by offering a second chance to rescind their unsubscribe request with another button that allows them to back out of the process.

Other tactics to change subscribers’ minds

  • Provide them with some type of incentive to stay like a link to a special offer or coupon. Let them know that the relationship is important and that you want to give them something for remaining as a subscriber.
  • Offer some alternatives instead of having them unsubscribe. This could be options like fewer emails, a specific email, or some other way of receiving information from you. This tactic is an ideal way to address some of the reasons why people unsubscribe.
  • Always remember to include a “thank you” in any type of unsubscribe communication to show that you value them no matter what they decide to do.

Keeping subscribers and getting more subscribers

Data collected from unsubscribers gives ideas on what marketers may need to do in order to keep subscribers and increase the number in the future.

They need to consider how to present more engaging details and use insights on timing and frequency to offer valuable information when subscribers prefer receiving it. If there is an issue with timing, think about how you can automate your email marketing program to more regularly deliver what your subscribers want while you continue to address other aspects of your marketing.

Just remember that email address management is an ongoing process that needs to be regularly managed and improved in order to continue building your subscriber base.

No matter how hard you try not to take it personal, watching someone unsubscribe from your email list never feels good. You can’t help but feel as though you’ve failed an old friend. Somehow your best efforts have offended a defected fan’s sensibilities and the enthusiasm that once made them click “subscribe” has turned in the opposite direction. You feel like you’ve lost the unsubscriber for good, but there is still a glimmer of hope and a few tricks you can use to sway them back your way.

Before we dive into that, though, you have to chew on, digest and contemplate this fact: You will win some and you will lose some. All the “best practices” in the world can’t deliver a 100% retention rate. Knowing this, you may feel your sadness turn to anger. You may be inclined to shrug your shoulders and say, “sayonara.”

Is unsubscribing an inevitable part of email marketing or something you need to devote resources to? To answer that question, it can be helpful to know what the competition’s unsubscribe rates look like to gauge your own performance.

You may notice that in religion, government sectors, daily deals, media publishing have the around 0.1% unsubscribe rates and lower when compared that to businesses in fitness, home and garden, construction, restaurant, manufacturing industries wherein the unsubscribe rates are closer to 0.4%.

So what can be done to win back subscribers’ hearts and change their minds i case your emails have soured anyone’s opinion? Try these tips explained below.  

  1. Use humor.

There’s nothing like a good humor to have someone thinking twice about dumping you. Studies have shown that shared laughter is a “pathway toward developing a more long-lasting relationship.” Brafton reported that developing humor was a priority for brands in 2015, especially considering the fact that most audiences agree that humor is perfectly acceptable in advertising. A study concluded that around 69% of the most successful communications managed to tickle the funny bones. You can use humor in the form of “value currency,” so that subscribers may reconsider before cutting ties if you’ve used humor and made them laugh.

  1. Find out why.

You may have lost this particular fish, but you’re going to bait the next one with better accuracy if you find out what’s up with your lure. Before allowing people to unsubscribe, ask them a simple multiple choice question to find out where you’ve gone wrong. This will ultimately help you fine-tune the quality of your email marketing to prevent losses in the future. Also worth noting, the fact that you seem to care what the disgruntled email subscriber thinks also makes you seem a little more sympathetic — and just downright polite.

  1. Give them an opportunity to save face.

In any type of situation where there are conflicting interests, you always want to offer the other person an opportunity to “save face” and back down from their misguided approach without looking stupid. As Managing All-In-One For Dummies puts it: “You can negotiate how to work together, give the politico an opportunity to save face, or go through the conflict resolution and trust-building process.” When you put the power into the other party’s hands, you may be pleasantly surprised at how favorably they respond. Think of it this way: with a standard breakup, it’s rarely that the other person simply hates everything about you and never wishes to see your face again. Usually there is still some semblance of a friendship there, but some of the more intimate intricacies are unfavorable. So by offering more options than stay-or-go, you can often salvage the relationship and earn a second chance.

  1. Market smarter and show that you “get” them.

Personalization makes it harder for people to detach themselves from you. Use the individual’s name and mention some of their interests to show that you do understand them and do care that they’re leaving. Consider giving subscribers one final juicy offer that would be hard to refuse — a “before you go” type of statement that creates an emotional connection. People often become so absorbed in what they’re seeing, they forget all about wanting to unsubscribe.

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