Unsubscribes can be a good thing

Unsubscribes can give you insight into ways to improve what you are sending.  Rather than hiding the unsubscribe process – thinking that this will keep people on your list – instead adopt a  “we make it easy to unsubscribe because we know you won’t want to” approach.  Look at your current unsubscribes as a opportunity to reduce future unsubscribes.

First, let’s establish a benchmark.  The DMA UK recently released a report that showed the average unsubscribe rate in acquisition to be 3%, and in retention to be 1%.

And here a few reasons why an unsubscribe can be a good thing:

  1. A sudden increase in unsubscribes can alert you to a problem – ranging from an imported list that doesn’t have the right permission, to content that doesn’t match what your sign up form said you’d be sending.
  2. Every unsubscribe is potentially one less spam report. If they find it difficult to unsubscribe, they might hit the report as spam button – which will impact the overall delivery rate to all subscribers.
  3. Your list will be a stronger asset because you are ensuring that you are only communicating with people who want to hear from you.
  4. You can ask them why they’re leaving. See setting up the unsubscribe process below.

Offering preferences in your sign up form can reduce unsubscribes

According to JupiterResearch 53% people unsubscribe when the content is not relevant – or no longer relevant, and 40% say they unsubscribe when they feel they are receiving too many emails from the company. By giving your subscribers the ability to manage what they receive – and how often – you’ll find that many subscribers will happy remain on your list.  I’ve written about the preference panel here.

Setting up the unsubscribe process

Best practice for email unsubscribes dictates you require as little information and as few clicks as possible to complete the process.  Also, it’s important to manage these requests immediately and efficiently, as you risk a report as spam report if you send to someone after they have taken the time to unsubscribe. (Newsweaver provides a one-click process that automatically suppresses the email address in the account.)

There may be a perfectly good reason for leaving the list. For example they may no longer need your products and services, or they may be leaving the company.  But they may give you feedback that will help you improve what you are sending. A quick optional exit survey (text box or clickable options) can be set up to appear after they have unsubscribed that asks the reason for leaving and their suggestions for improvement, all of which can give you valuable insight.

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