Understanding Unsubscribes: 7 Reasons Your Email Marketing Isn’t Working Anymore


Understanding Unsubscribes: 7 Reasons Your Email Marketing Isn’t Working AnymoreEmail is a boon for a smart marketer. The bottom line: Email marketing works. It's cheap, effective, and a great way to reach out to consumers. In most cases, people volunteer to be on the list, so once you've got plenty of qualified recipients, marketing should be cake, right?

Not so fast. Getting potential customers to give you their email addresses is only the first step. After that, it's all about keeping their attention if you want to keep their business. And that means doing everything right. Most email campaigns lose steam over time. Metrics tell the tale with lower open rates, lower sales, and the dreaded unsubscribe. Here are some of the most common reasons consumers wave goodbye:

1. No Opt-in. Buying lists may seem like a good idea on the surface, but let's be honest: unsolicited emails are spam and everybody hates spam. Invite your customers to sign up with incentives—free stuff, discounts, insider info...whatever you have that they want.

2. A Barrage of Emails. It's not your job to fill customer inboxes to capacity. Constant Contact asked 1,400 consumers why they unsubscribe and the #1 answer was too many emails. Space your emails out and they'll be far more welcome.

3. Poor Targeting. One way to keep the growth cycle flowing and the number of emails down is to sort customers into lists. Use your CRM to full advantage by segmenting lists based on location, shopping habits, age, or other criteria for a more personalized approach.

4. Bad Timing. A 2012 Experian study found that emails sent on Saturdays and Sundays had the highest open rates, click-throughs, and transaction rates—but oddly the lowest volume, meaning businesses aren't paying attention. During the week, Fridays offer the highest click rates, but people were more apt to buy on Mondays. The highest response times proved to be at night—between 8 PM and 4 AM—and again, this timeframe had the lowest volume of emails sent. While optimal timing is a dynamic concept, that doesn’t mean you can’t play around with different days and times to see which are optimal for your target market.

5. Lack of Responsive Design. If your emails aren’t optimized for mobile, you may be alienating customers. Customers are accessing email from everywhere using smartphones and tablets. Your emails, like your website, should be responsive and easy to access from any device. Who doesn't check their email on the train, at lunch, or in the waiting room?

6. Boring Content. If your ads, emails or newsletters are lackluster and offer nothing new each time, your customers will say no thanks out of sheer boredom. Spice up your emails with color and graphics, irresistible offers or informative content they can't wait to read.

7. Badly Crafted Subject Lines. The subject line is what gets readers' attention and makes them want to open your email. The more enticing the subject line, the more likely they are to open. Bear in mind that all-caps and lots of exclamation points do not generate excitement.

When you keep an eye on unsubscribers, you might notice trends. If your customers suddenly reject your emails in droves, it's important to understand why. If they unsubscribe gradually, it's even more important—you might be losing their interest, and along with it, their business. How do you find out what your subscribers thinking? Some businesses just ask. Smart marketing includes an exit strategy to find out why customers unsubscribe. Offer a simple quiz with multiple choice selections like “too many emails” and “not what I expected” plus a field for them to add feedback.

When customers do opt to unsubscribe, offer them choices. Consumers who cite “too many emails” as the reason for unsubscribing might agree to less frequent contact. As long as you respect their wishes, you have a shot at retaining these customers.

Growth Cycle MarketingEvery business gets unsubscribes, so don't freak out over a few. It's the spikes you should look out for. Lots of customers opting out during a marketing campaign means you're doing something wrong. Small improvements can make a big difference. Rethink your content, your presentation, and your timing. Growth Cycle Marketing includes retaining existing customers while constantly adding new ones, and low unsubscribe rates (about 2% is normal) factor in.

Email addresses are one of your most valuable business assets. Keep your list healthy and robust by respecting your customers and offering them what they want...when they want it.

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