Email is one of the best ways to reach consumers. So when you see your email unsubscribe rate spike, that means your consumers aren't just no longer interested in reading your content, they don't even want to see it in their inbox anymore. Ouch.
"Marketers cannot afford to ignore unsubscribe rate," says Susan McPherson, SVP of CSR at Fenton. It's one thing if consumers aren't opening your emails, but if they're actively unsubscribing, you have some work to do.
"Even the best marketing programs fall victim to this issue," says Lancellotti-Young. She explains that across Sailthru's client base, consumers are most likely to unsubscribe within 30 days of subscribing. Though Sailthru encourages clients to keep their 30-day unsubscribe rates under 3%, some businesses see rates creeping toward 10% and beyond. Wondering why your new subscribers would jump ship so quickly? The likely culprits are "sending cadence" (read: too much email) or irrelevant emails.
"We can map spikes in unsubscribes back to large email campaigns — it's a natural transaction in email marketing, and we're able to easily and accurately plan for it," says Alexis Anderson, Director of Marketing & Partnerships at PureWow, adding, "The benefit of these campaigns always outweigh the cost.
As for relevance, there are obvious and more subtle reasons for unsubscribing. If your business focuses on pregnancy, car shopping or events in Chicago, consumers likely won't find your message relevant once they have the baby, buy a car or find themselves moving to New York. On the more nuanced front, some emails are irrelevant because they promote a product a consumer already owns or doesn't care about, or the emails are "batch-and-blast" — broadly written and sent to the entire email list, instead of targeted to certain segments.
To nab and retain email subscribers, Lancellotti-Young says it's "mission-critical for marketers to develop compelling onboarding series that go well beyond just the customer's first week." She advocates an "onboarding" experience after each new behavior, including sign-up, the first purchase and connecting social accounts. Think of it as a hat-tip for each action taken down the purchase funnel — it lets the user know you're appreciative of their engagement. And as you accrue more data about user behavior, your business can focus on personalizing emails, which will always boost engagement and mitigate the risk of unsubscribes, says Lancellotti-Young.
If a consumer does get to the point of unsubscribing, Sailthru encourages businesses to opt users "down, not out," meaning the customers can opt to receive less email, instead of none at all. One SailThru client, OpenSky, reduced its overall opt-out rate more than 12% by "respecting the end user's preferences via an opt-out page," says Lancellotti-Young.
Once you get past the probationary 30-day point, there's a good chance you'll hang onto the consumers for the long haul. And even if you do end up "losing" a subscriber, Lancellotti-Young says it's crucial to remember that you've only lost them in one channel, and you still have opportunities to engage, convert and retain the customer via mobile and social opportunities.
Of course, in addition to reducing your unsubscribe rates, you also want to build your audience. Email is a core product for female lifestyle site PureWow, and the company often partners with third parties to grow the audience. To determine which growth partners (whether paid or strategic) to do follow-up campaigns with, PureWow analyzes two key email metrics — the Average Opens by Day (Active Subscribers * Active Open Rate) and Retention Rate (Active Subscribers / Total Subscribers). "It doesn't do us any good to invest in marketing sources that either don't open our emails or unsubscribe," says Anderson. Figure out which channels drive the best engagement, and optimize them to grow a high-quality email list that will yield ROI in the short-term and over time.
Tactical Tips for Improving Your Email Marketing
As discussed, it's one thing to get consumers to open your emails; it's another entirely to keep the audience engaged. Below, we've rounded up a few factors that could improve your email marketing strategy:
Timing — Is your email sent at an optimal time of day, and is your messaging timely? An email marketing survey found that late nights and weekends are excellent times for email marketing — there's less competition, so open rates are higher (as are CTR and revenue per email) for the night owl crowd.
Personalization — You have a lot of data about each of your customers. Consider clustering your email list into several different groups, based on shopping habits, location or interests, to make your messaging more relevant.
Purpose — Is there a call to action? Is the consumer being engaged? What's the purpose of your email?
Subject line — You don't want to tell the whole story, or else readers won't need to click. And even though you might be excited about the email's contents, an all-caps subject line with multiple exclamation points is a surefire ticket to the spam folder. (These tips from MailChimp should help you stay out of spam.)
Mobile optimization — Nearly half of emails are read on mobile devices, so if your emails can't be read on mobile devices, you risk losing the consumer — 30% of consumers will unsubscribe if an email doesn't render properly. And yet, less than 12% of email newsletters boast responsive design, according to a 2013 study. (Here are 32 responsive email templates.)
Exit Surveys — A simple exit survey can help your business glean insights into why consumers are leaving, which you can use to inform your strategy moving forward. It helps to offer multiple choice buttons ("Too much email," "No longer need your service," "Information isn't useful," etc.) along with an optional field where consumers can write in feedback.
How has your business reduced unsubscribe rates and driven engagement and conversions via email marketing? Tell us in the comments.
Read the original article here.
About the author: Lauren Drell is a @mashable branded content editor, @lukeslobster social media, @penn & @medillschool alum, @franklinpup doter, californian, trivia nerd, traveler, spelchek'r, #newthing'r.