Email marketers and business owners spend a lot of time and resources to get people to subscribe and sign up for their emails and newsletter. However, it’s rare that the same effort is applied to ensuring that subscribers are engaged in the content they’re receiving. This can lead to low open rates or, worse, a high unsubscribe rate.
Before we get into it, there are a whole range of reasons people unsubscribe to your emails. It could be that they’re in a different life stage and the information no longer applies or they’re simply cleaning house and unsubscribing to everything to find out what they really miss. At a certain list size, the truth is that no matter how remarkable your last email newsletter was, you will not retain 100% of your subscribers.
However, what you can do is aim to reduce email unsubscribe rates as much as possible. And this starts with understanding why subscribers leave in the first place.
Top 5 reasons people unsubscribe from your mailing list
If you want to reduce your email unsubscribe rate and drive growth, consider whether these five common reasons people unsubscribe from your list are relevant. We’ve also provided some quick tips for righting your wrongs so that you can help to drive those email metrics in the right direction.
They didn't sign up or had forgotten they did
Poor list-building strategy is one of the top reasons businesses experience high unsubscribe rates, with one of the biggest mistakes being buying or renting your list.
Buying or renting a list is always a bad idea. Aside from the very important fact that you’ll be violating the rules of GDPR, the truth is a strong, up-to-date, engaged list is never for sale. And, even if you did manage to get a strong list, it’s incredibly frustrating for the people on the list to receive emails from a brand when you are clueless about who they are and the services they offer. Naturally, the unsubscribes will grow considerably if you added emails without the individual’s knowledge or consent.
Even if you didn’t buy your list, subscribers can forget they signed up in the first place. One of the best ways to reduce email unsubscribe rates in your first interactions with a customer is to ensure that you make it clear to visitors exactly what they are signing up for in your opt-in form.
Many businesses use double-opt-in, sending an initial email that asks the new subscriber to click a link to confirm they want to receive your emails. This process may mean that you lose a few followers, but it can be worth it to ensure that your list is active, engaged, and really wants to hear from you.
Finally, cadence is crucial when it comes to ensuring people who sign up actually remember they signed up. Putting a compelling welcome sequence in place that is automatically activated when an individual signs up to your list is crucial to ensuring you strike while the lead is hot.
It is also essential to ensure your list is always up to date. Once upon a time, leads generated through Facebook or Google ads had to be manually downloaded and then uploaded to your customer data platform. Often, this was a manual process that had to happen daily to ensure new leads were sent a welcome email within that first 24-48 hours.
If you’re an Ortto customer, this manual process is a thing of the past. So long as you’ve connected Facebook and Google, the subscribers who enter their details through lead generation forms on social media and search will be directly entered into your CDP, and the welcome email series will automatically begin. It’s a huge time saver and a subscriber saver.
You send too many emails
Another common reason email marketers experience a high unsubscribe rate is that they are simply sending too many emails. And this is mainly because they overestimate how often their subscribers want to hear from there.
However, there are ways you can reduce email unsubscribe rates due to this reason. You can give your subscribers a chance to choose how many times they want to hear from you in a month. Let your subscribers state their email frequency preferences using your opt-in form. If you can't put it in your opt-in form, you can create an email preference center and give your subscribers who do hit that ‘unsubscribe’ button the option of changing their frequency preference. You could also include preferences for different email types, giving subscribers a chance to opt-in to promotions, newsletters, or both. This way, not only will your customers have more choice in email frequency and content type, but you’ll have more data on what your subscribers actually want from you.
Another way to generate that all-important data is to send regular surveys to your subscribers, asking them about the content they like, what they want to see more of, and more.
There’s really no golden rule around how many emails you should send each week. It all comes down to the type of business you are, the content you have to offer, and where in the journey your audience segment is. To strike a balance, ensure that you’re paying attention to every email being sent — newsletters, sales alerts, event invitations, and every customer journey email — and keeping an eye on open rates and unsubscribes.
You are constantly trying to sell them something
Your subscribers will stop opening and reading your emails if all you do is advertise your products and services, and eventually they’ll choose to unsubscribe. One of the reliable ways to reduce email unsubscribe rates is to follow the 80/20 method.
This implies that 80% of the emails you send to your subscribers will be educational, informative, and engaging content. The content can include invitations to free webinars, links to new blog content, op eds from your team, tips and tricks relating to your field, or user-generated content. The remaining 20% can be focused on sales. Although it is your primary goal as a business owner to turn leads into conversion, you will lose your leads faster if you don’t take the time to nurture them before pushing them through your sales funnel.
You must also ensure that email and newsletters are filled with thoughtful, relevant, and original content. Doing this will position your business as a thought-leader with reliable solutions to offer to your subscribers and will also avoid making your newsletters from looking like a sales spiel.
Your content isn’t relevant to your brand
Your subscribers have handed over their email address because they’re interested in your brand, what you offer, and the industry that you (and they) exist in. If you’re pumping out content that is unrelated, or doesn’t feel original, they’ll be more likely to opt out than opt in.
Often unoriginal or irrelevant content is simply the result of the pressure to churn out content at a regular cadence. And while cadence IS important, it is better to deliver a monthly newsletter that is original and relevant, than a weekly newsletter that is unrelated to your brand or feels like it could have come from anyone.
Follow these three steps to create email content that is relevant to your subscribers, and keeps them opening, clicking, and sharing:
If you’re a brand with a huge variety of products or a single offering that services a lot of different individuals or business types, it can be a good idea to create audience segments and create separate emails for each segment. For example, an ecommerce company in the fashion space may ask their subscribers whether they want to opt in for womens, mens or both/ungendered newsletters. This will mean every subscriber gets the content they’re interested in, and nothing else.
Your content strategy and your email strategy should be connected at the hip. Ensure that you are sticking to the content lanes your brand has created, the style guide that has been established, and the brand personality you’ve built. This doesn’t end with words, either. It’s essential that your emails are a true representation of your brand, and that includes a look and feel that matches up with everything else you put into the world.
Use Ortto’s Brand Book to establish clear brand guidelines and watch as your email templates automatically adjust to match your style. A feature like Brand Book ensures that no matter who in your company builds an email, it looks like you.
A customer data platform like Ortto will allow you to set up automated email campaigns and playbooks that take all of your customer information — behavioral, transactional, demographic — to ensure that every email lands in the inbox at the right time, with the right messages. This kind of automated personalization allows you to maintain a relationship with your customers and drive down those unsubscribes, even as your list grows.
Your email looks unprofessional or is too cluttered
Subscribers might see your email as spam if it looks cluttered, messy, or unprofessional and, eventually, they’ll just unsubscribe. It’s good practice to send a test email to at least one other person to check things like formatting errors, typos, broken images, and any other thing that needs to be corrected before it lands in the inboxes of thousands. This extra set of eyes may take a little more time, but it’s well worth it to rest assured that your email is a true representation of the brand you’ve built.
Furthermore, another way to reduce email unsubscribe rates is to pay more attention to your email designs. If your emails look outdated or are not pleasing to the eye, many unsubscribers will delete or unsubscribe before they’ve even read a word.
If you’re a small team without a designer, don’t fret. Ortto has a whole range of templates that are incredibly easy to use, and with Brand Book implemented, they’ll auto-adjust to your brand specifications.
Also, never forget that a high percentage of your subscribers access their emails from their mobile devices, so it’s always worth optimizing for mobile and triple checking your emails on a phone before they’re sent or put into a Playbook. If you can, check them out on a few different devices and inbox types to ensure you’re catering to everyone.
The final word
With email automation platforms like Ortto, many of the emails you set up in your Playbooks and the templates you create for newsletters will be used again, and again, and again. It’s worth putting a little extra effort in to ensure they’re absolutely perfect before they land in inboxes.
Once they’re out in the world, keep a close eye on your unsubscribe rates and any email that exceeds 0.4% should be reviewed and revised to reduce email unsubscribe rates across the board. If you test something out and find it works, take that learning and apply it to the rest of your emails — what started as a mistake could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to your email marketing.