7 reasons why people unsubscribe from your email marketing

By 20 august, 2015Email Marketing
The best blog posts from eMarketeer

Email is without a doubt one of the best ways to reach consumers. It’s also one of the most budget-friendly forms of marketing, but are you doing all you can to tap into its full potential?

With Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and many other platforms on which to reach customers, marketers are beginning to neglect email.

However, according to research done by McKinsey & Company, email continues to be the most popular online activity and 91% consumers check their email daily. This is compared to just 61% of users accessing social media sites. In addition, the vast majority of adults prefer to receive marketing communications via email.

A juicy list of subscribers is one of your most powerful tools, but keeping those numbers up can be overwhelming. Today on the blog we’re looking at the main reasons why people unsubscribe from mailing lists and what you can do to stop the exodus.

Here are 7 reasons why people unsubscribe from your email marketing list… And what you can do about it!

Why does your subscribers unsubscribe from your email marketing?

This infographic by Litmus offers a visual breakdown of some of the most common reasons why people unsubscribe from emails. Let’s take a look at a few of these (and a few others) in detail.

1. Who Are You?

I don’t know about you, but I have a habit of signing up to numerous email lists a week. If a tantalising discount pops up on my screen or someone dangles a free e-book in front of my nose, I’m in.

After the initial welcome email, I might hear nothing for several months, and by then I’ve completely forgotten about this company and what they do. So when another email finally pings into my inbox, I’m left thinking “who are you?”

If a subscriber doesn’t know (or remember) who you are, they will likely hit that unsubscribe button.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution: commit to sending regular emails. If you have neglected your schedule for some time, you’ll need to reintroduce yourself with a friendly, ‘Sorry for the radio silence’ email. This email could also include a special offer or discount, to gently remind customers why they signed up in the first place.

2. Your Content Isn’t Good Enough

Your emails are competing for attention against messages from friends, work memos and marketing mail from other brands. If your content isn’t up to scratch, you’ll be left in the dust.

Give as much thought to the content of your marketing emails as you do to blog posts and social media updates. Start with an enticing subject line – keep it witty and brief. Don’t use all caps and do not over-punctuate as this could land you in the spam folder.

The body of your email should be seasonal, relevant and useful. You could include high-quality images, a teaser of your latest blog post and fun news from the office. Write for your customers, not for you.

This email from Airbnb was sent just after lunch on a wet, miserable Monday. The subject line evoked an instant reaction and the beautiful images undoubtedly had many readers thinking, “Yes, I do belong in Spain.”

Airbnb email example

This email is decidedly simple – there’s very little text, the focus is instead on imagery, which is fitting for a travel company. Great content doesn’t necessarily mean long paragraphs – you could let photographs, graphics and video do the talking instead.

3. You’re Not Personalizing Content

Studies continue to reveal that personalized marketing emails delivered a significant increase in transaction rates and revenue. So tailoring your messages makes financial sense.

Personalizing emails may also help to prevent readers from unsubscribing.

Why? Because they are receiving content relevant to them, they experience a connection with the sender (you), and they feel valued as an individual.

Here are five simple ways to personalize your messages:

  1. Greet your subscribers by name, “Hi Ted, here’s a new product we think you’ll love!”
  2. Deliver exclusive offers and discounts to segments of your email list – and let them know it’s just for them.
  3. Tailor to their gender – let just your male customers know about the sale on men’s jeans.
  4. Celebrate their birthday! Send a personalized birthday message on – or a few days before – the big day. Include a celebratory voucher or discount for extra brownie points!
  5. Track your subscriber’s website usage and personalize emails based on their habits and preferences.

4. You’re Emailing Too Often!

According to the data on Litmus’ infographic (pictured above), this was the top reason why people unsubscribed from mailing lists.

If you’re hammering inboxes with a message every single day and you’re seeing high unsubscribe rates, you may want to rethink your strategy.

Being bombarded with sales messages can feel incredibly intrusive and often leads to frustration. So emailing too often can impact more than just the numbers on your list – it can damage your reputation too.

Know when enough is enough. One newsletter a month may be enough to keep your subscribers happy, but the only way to know for sure is by doing some in-depth testing.

5. Your Emails Are Not Mobile Optimized

In January 2015, 53% of emails were opened on mobile devices. That was just a couple of months ago, but it’s fair to assume the numbers will be even higher now!

Everything looks different on those tiny smartphone screens – websites, video, images, email.

If you’re only designing emails for PC screens, your message will be missed by the huge percentage of people reading it on a phone or tablet. Links may not work correctly, images might not display and the text could be small and unreadable. You can see the difference between a non-optimized and optimized email below:

Responsive vs non-responsive email design

If readers can’t read your emails, why should they bother sticking around?

It is vital that you optimize your emails for mobile viewing. If you don’t, you’ll be doing your marketing campaign – and subscriber rates – a disservice.

6. Your Customer’s Circumstances Have Changed

You might be pleased to hear that in some circumstances, it’s really not you, it’s them.

A subscriber may have married, changed job, moved abroad, had kids or simply changed their mind. As their life progresses and their interests change, their mailing list subscriptions will too. It’s a natural progression and one you can do little about, unfortunately. Of course, if you can fit such a recipient into a new segment or adapt your offerings to also accommodate the change in interest, this may be the start of a new relationship with this recipient.

On a positive note, it can be very helpful if a subscriber removes themselves from your list in these circumstances. It’s like trimming the fat – your list will no longer be bloated with subscribers who simply ignore your messages, it becomes a lean, mean, click-gaining machine instead.

7. Another Company Does it Better

It’s possible that your competitors are producing better content, offering sweeter deals and nailing email frequency. If their email marketing is better than yours, you can count on losing customers to them.

So what can you do about it?

First, sign up to their newsletters and find out exactly what you’re up against. This is perfectly fair and legal, provided you don’t outright steal their content. When their messages ping into your inbox, scrutinize them from the point of view of a customer and a competitor. Don’t let your biases cloud your judgement, accept that there may be some things they do better and learn from them.

Next, you need to work on improving your own emails. You can start by working on the areas listed above – content, optimisation and frequency. Learn to write great content and catchy subject lines (or hire a writer to do it for you) and make sure to use a beautiful AND responsive template.

Conclusion

Email often enough that readers don’t forget you, but not so much that they unsubscribe in frustration. Get the timings right – Monday morning, Thursday afternoon, Sunday lunchtime? Test a range of different times and measure the response.

Finally, listen to feedback from customers. Reach out on social media for opinions and suggestion. Communicate with your readers, let them know they are valued and in return you’ll receive some useful feedback to improve your campaigns.

What do you think is the reason why people unsubscribe from your email campaigns?

As the Chief Marketing Officer at eMarketeer I constantly come across inspirational sources of content, amazing customer cases as well as fun and educational stuff that just begs to be shared. I hope my writing can spark ideas for your own marketing projects.

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