16 easy ways to reduce email unsubscribes
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Is your email unsubscribe rate too high? Are you fed up with seeing loads of unsubscribers every time you send an email? Here are 16 easy ways to reduce email unsubscribes.
So… you’ve spent time crafting an awesome blog newsletter… you think it’s just perfect for your subscribers… you know your people are going to love it…
But then you go to check your analytics and you see you’ve had LOADS of unsubscribes 😢 What’s going on? Did you do something wrong? Was it something you said? And how on earth do you stop it from happening???
First of all, it’s important to say that email unsubscribes are NOT always a bad thing. In fact, they are often a sign that you’re doing things RIGHT. Because not everyone who signs up to your list is going to be a good fit. Not everyone will love what you do – and that’s OK! If people are unsubscribing from your list because they’ve realised what you are sending them is not right for them, that’s actually a good thing… and will save you the job of cleaning them off your list later!
In fact, you really don’t want someone like that on your list. You want happy, enthusiastic subscribers who love what send them and are eager for more… What you really don’t want is people on your list who never open your emails and never click on your links… This drags down your sender reputation which results in more of your emails going to spam and fewer people seeing your emails (even the people who really want to read your newsletters!)
But, of course, you do want to ensure that the RIGHT people – your target audience / ideal readers and customers – are not unsubscribing. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your email unsubscribe rate and ensure you are keeping your ‘good fit’ subscribers happy.
Here are 16 easy ways to reduce email unsubscribes…
1. Create a welcome sequence
One of the most effective ways to reduce email unsubscribes is to create a welcome sequence. Why does this work so well? Well, firstly it ensures your new subscriber is properly welcomed to your list…
It’s a bit like this… Imagine you are at a party and your host doesn’t welcome you, doesn’t show you where the drinks and snacks are and doesn’t introduce you to the other guests… and so you stand there on your own in the corner feeling awkward… You’re going to leave pretty early, right?
But you are MUCH more likely to stick around if you feel properly welcomed by your host. And the same is true with email marketing – if you welcome your new subscribers properly – introduce yourself, deliver value, show them around, give them quick wins, make them feel smart for joining your list – they are much more likely to stay on your list.
The other reason why a welcome sequence is so important in reducing unsubscribes, is because you avoid that situation where someone subscribes right after you send your weekly email – meaning they don’t get their first proper email from you for a whole week – by which time they’ve completely forgotten who you are… and so unsubscribe!
READ MORE >>> How to create an automated welcome sequence for your email list
2. Make that welcome sequence really good
But it’s not enough to just have an email welcome sequence – you need to make it good! We all know that first impressions are really important… and your welcome sequence is your opportunity to make a really, really good first impression – so use it!
Ensure your welcome sequence delivers real value – make it so good your new subscriber is actively looking forward to your next email. And make sure you manage their expectations – actually tell them that you normally email once a week on a Friday (or whatever is true for you), but this week you have some extra special emails for them. Another good technique is ‘tease’ what you have coming up and/or use cliff-hangers to encourage them to keep opening your emails.
A great way to surprise and delight your new subscribers is to include surprise bonus extra freebies in your email sequence – this will build that all important know, like and trust factor and plant in their minds that yours is a list they want to stay on.
And finally, ensure your welcome sequence is infused with your personality – people follow people and if someone warms to you, they are much more likely to stay on your list. If your emails are sterile and sound like they come from a faceless corporation, people are much more likely to unsubscribe.
3. Always deliver value
If you truly want the secret to reducing your unsubscribes (as well as increasing your open rates and click rates) it’s this: ALWAYS DELIVER VALUE.
It’s logical really when you think about it – why would anyone want to stay on your list and keep getting emails from you? The only reason why anyone actively stays on an email list is because they know it’s going to be worth THEIR while. Because they know it’s going to be beneficial for THEM.
If your emails are just an automated RSS feed of your latest blog posts, that’s unlikely to be compelling enough to keep people on your list… But if your emails are full of things your subscribers really want to read and if they know they will always get something useful or beneficial from your email each week, they are much more likely to stick around in anticipation of all the future goodies you have in store for them.
4. Don’t make it ‘me, me, me’
We all have aims and goals for our business, and reasons why we send our emails. But here’s the thing – your subscribers don’t really care about your aims, goals and reasons. They care about their own goals and aims.
It’s really important when you write your emails (and your blog posts for that matter!) to think about who your readers are, where they are at, what they might be struggling with and what they most want to hear from you about. If you keep your email subscriber – and their cares, concerns, problems and struggles – front and centre when you are writing your emails, you won’t go far wrong – and you will naturally deliver value.
If, on the other hand, you focus solely on yourself and your own goals and aims – for example getting your subscriber to click a link, read a blog post or buy a product… then you are likely to entirely miss the mark.
It’s a subtle mindset shift, but a really important one if you want your subscribers to stay on your list… Always remember that a subscriber stays on your list because of what’s in it for THEM… not what’s in it for YOU!
5. Include something irresistible
This is one of my best ninja tips – always include something totally irresistible in your emails. This can just be a small section of your email, but something that’s of super high value for your readers.
There are a few good things here that fit the bill here. Things like:
- Niche related news
- Jobs / freelance work / money making opportunities
- Ninja tips that are easy to implement and get instant results
- A rant section (people always love a good rant!)
- Exclusive subscriber-only discounts / opportunities
For example, I nearly always include an ‘SEO News’ section in my email newsletters – featuring my curated selection of the most important and most relevant SEO news for bloggers. This is because I know most of my subscribers really want to keep up-to-date with the latest SEO news, but don’t want the hassle of having to trawl through all the squillions of SEO news articles produced each week to find the ones that are actually relevant to bloggers! I then go the extra mile by providing my own analysis and insights.
I’ve also seen this done very successfully with things like a ‘new products’ section, a ‘rant of the week’ section, a ‘freelance writing jobs’ or ‘VA jobs’ section and a ‘this week’s discounts’ section.
6. Write like you are writing to one person
Another great way to keep people on your list is to write your newsletters like you are writing your emails to one person.
Remember, in this day and age of mass blasts on social, one of the biggest strengths of email is its intimacy… While you might be sending your newsletter out to 20,000 people, when it comes into your subscriber’s inbox, it looks like it’s just between you and the recipient – and you can use that to your advantage… An email that looks and sounds like it comes from a friend is far more likely to get opened and read that one that looks like it comes from a faceless corporation.
But also, by using email to build that personal relationship with your readers, your subscribers will feel ‘connected’ to you and that you are their ‘friend’ – and they are much less likely to want to unsubscribe from someone they feel they have a personal connection with.
A good technique for doing this is, when you write your email newsletters, imagine you are just writing your email to a specific subscriber – pick one of your biggest fans and imagine you are just writing a personal email to that one person.
Another great trick is to use personalization, such as beginning your emails with ‘Hi [First Name]’, rather than something much less personal like ‘Hi there’ or ‘Hi friend’.
7. Lose the fancy styling
And on that subject… lose the fancy styling! It just makes your emails look more like they come from a faceless corporation and less like they come from a friend!
READ MORE >>> Why beautiful email templates hurt your business
8. Encourage replies
Another way to encourage that feeling of 1:1 connection and build up your know, like, trust factor is to actually encourage REAL 1:1 connection… Ask a question in your email and encourage replies. And then, when they reply, actually reply back to them. Unless you have a ginormous list of very engaged subscribers, this is unlikely to be a huge task each week… but it will make a big difference to your subscribers’ perception of you!
Not only does this help build your relationship with your subscribers – making them less likely to unsubscribe – but it will also have a positive effect on your deliverability.
9. Genuinely care
Do you genuinely care about your readers? Do you genuinely want to help them via your emails? Or do you just email them because you feel you should / because it makes you money?
If you genuinely care about your readers, this will come across loud and clear in your emails and your subscribers will warm to you… and so be much less likely to unsubscribe.
Conversely, if you don’t genuinely care, that will be very apparent to your subscribers and they will be much more likely to leave!
10. Be you!
As I said earlier, people follow people – so let your personality shine through your emails. Don’t be afraid to be yourself! And yes, it’s true that some people might not connect with your personality / opinions / approach / philosophy… and that’s OK – those people are not your people.
On the flipside, if you allow your personality shine through your emails, YOUR people will connect with you / identify you / feel ‘this person gets me’… and are much more likely to stay on your list (and also buy from you and tell their friends about you!)
You might think that being ‘vanilla’ is the right approach, but actually the opposite is true… if you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one!
11. Have a regular schedule
One reason why people unsubscribe is because they don’t hear from you for ages and then one day your email pops into their inbox and they can’t remember who you are… and so unsubscribe.
Avoid this by sending out regular email on a specific day and at a specific time – for example Friday at 10am.
This does two good things. Firstly, it means your people remember who you are. But secondly – especially when you combine this with ‘always deliver value’, your subscribers will come to look forward to your emails and even build your emails into their routine for that day. (I’ve had subscribers tell me that they always read my emails during their Friday coffee break, for example.)
And it goes without saying that if your subscribers look forward to your emails and build your emails into their routine, they are extremely unlikely to unsubscribe!
12. Don’t email too often!
But obviously the opposite is also true, don’t go too far the other way and email too often. In most niches once a week is usually about the right cadence… Though if your emails are perceived as highly valuable by your audience / are time sensitive, you may be able to get away with a bit more than this.
Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule – welcome sequences and sales sequences are usually sent every day, for example. But by managing expectations, consistently delivering value and offering opt-outs to sales emails, this is usually fine… so long as you don’t do it too frequently!
13. Work on your deliverability
One reason why your subscribers might not hear from you for ages – even if you are sending your emails out on a regular schedule – is if your deliverability is bad.
In other words, if your emails mostly go to a particular subscriber’s junk / spam / promotions tab, but every now and again your emails make it through to their main inbox and they can’t remember who you are… they are likely to unsubscribe.
By fixing your deliverability, you will therefore reduce the number of unsubscribes. And, of course, fixing deliverability issues will also have a knock on positive effect on other metrics – like opens / clicks / sales etc.
READ MORE >>> 22 ways to improve your email deliverability
14. Always include opt-out links for sales emails
The first thing to say here is – don’t be afraid to sell in your emails! It is true that you will get more unsubscribes from sales emails… but that’s OK!
Think of it this way… Which would you prefer… 10 subscribers who aren’t that interested anyway and were never going to buy anything from you… or $1000? It’s a no brainer, right?
YOUR people are unlikely to unsubscribe just because you sent a sales email… The people who are most likely to unsubscribe are the WRONG people – people who are just not your people.
HOWEVER… do make sure you always offer an opt-out link in sales emails. That way, if any of ‘your people’, who love your regular emails, are just not interested in your specific offer right now, you don’t annoy them… And if someone sails straight past your opt-out link and unsubscribes, then clearly they were not a good fit.
READ MORE >>> How to create an opt-out link for your sales emails
15. Value, Value, Value… Sales
On the other hand, don’t ONLY send sales emails – no-one wants to be constantly sent sales emails! If that’s all you send, clearly your subscribers are going to conclude that your emails are not giving them value and they’ll leave. Instead make sure that most of the time you are delivering value… and then your subscribers will think very differently about your occasional sales emails.
16. Why are you on the list?
And finally, think about the email lists you are on as a subscriber… why are you still on those lists? Why have you not unsubscribed? The reasons you stick around on someone else’s list are likely the exact same reasons your subscribers will stay on your list… and the reasons you unsubscribe from any given list are likely the same reasons your subscriber will unsubscribe from your list.
Every time you open someone else’s email newsletter – ask yourself why you didn’t unsubscribe… and every time you hit ‘unsubscribe’, ask yourself why you did that – you can learn so much from your own behaviour!
Over to you…
I’d love to hear from you! Are you going to implement any of these tips? Have you tried any of these tips… and if so, what was the result? Or perhaps you have a tip of your own to add?
Either way let us know in the comments below!
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