Will I annoy people? I don't want to alienate my contacts
You may be surprised that the short answer is an emphatic – No! Unsubscribes are OK. Unsubscribes are a fact of life in email marketing and not something to be afraid of. They are another point of engagement between you and your markets. the feedback you get through unsubscribes can help you improve and refine your offer and make your business better.
Don’t forget the basics
People read newspapers and magazines because they are interested in the content. Not necessarily every article but they do have an interest. E-newsletters should be exactly the same. Content should be relevant to the target audience. We receive many more positive comments about our Marketing Matters e-newsletter than we do unsubscribes. Over the past year, we have seen an unsubscribe rate of less than 4%. Realistically there will always be one person who simply objects to everything but when you look at the statistics, the power and benefit of well targeted, relevant email far outweighs any negative impact. Naturally, every e-newsletter we send includes an option to unsubscribe and if someone takes that option, we respect it, because unsubscribes are good…..
Unsubscribes are good
The essence of marketing is to communicate a relevant message to an audience that will recognise the relevance of the message (and consequently a ‘fit’ with the company that sent it) Email marketing is no different, and if someone chooses to unsubscribe that is normally because the don’t see the relevance of the message so it makes sense they don’t receive it. As a consequence of unsubscribes, the target list becomes ever better qualified!
Use your common sense
As with most things, common sense is a valuable tool and should be used in your marketing. It’s true that some unsubscribes can be a good thing, but you do want your list to grow as you add new (well qualified!) contacts. Adding qualified contacts tends to be a steady, rather than fast, process so getting too many unsubscribes can make your list go backwards – and if you do see a lot of unsubscribes, just how well qualified are your contacts in the first place?
Watch the stats
As a general rule, you may well see a few more unsubscribes the first time you run a list (maybe 3-5%) and this can be OK on the first ‘send’ but after this, unsubscribes should be much lower – typically well under 1% Do as you would be done by
Make sure you are adding contacts too
Unsubscribes are part of email marketing so if you aren’t adding contacts to your target list, it will shrink. Having a sign-up form on your website can be a way of growing your list and it can work well if you operate in a B2C or wide B2B market with a lot of traffic to your site. For B2B businesses working in niche sectors (i.e. most of BSA’s clients!), a more proactive approach to list development is normally required but don’t forget:
Contact quality is more important the contact quantity
Remember, you should be communicating good quality, relevant content to well qualified contacts. If you do this, unsubscribes will be minimal and maintaining/growing your list should not be a problem.
Sometimes an unsubscribe may be worth a follow-up
If you only see small numbers of unsubscribes (and you should!) it is worth keeping any eye on who is unsubscribing. If it is someone you know personally, it might be worth giving them a call to find out why they have unsubscribed. This shows (at least) that you are on the ball and take a joined-up approach and the conversation may give you valuable feedback which you can use to improve your marketing. I have even had the experience of finding that someone had unsubscribed inadvertently and my call not only resurrected the contact but resulted in a business enquiry! Be positive, use your common sense, but remember:
Unsubscribes are an opportunity, not a problem