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How to manage newsletter opt-outs…and make a lemonade out of lemons

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First of all how about catching your readers before they become unsubscribes?

Topman takes a pro-active approach and monitors whether emails are opened or not.  If you don’t seem to be engaged in their newsletters, Topman sends a humorous message:

2014 04 03 blog topman v2

And Victoria’s Secret is also  upfront about whether you wish to receive their communications or not, by including an unsubcribe link in the header of their newsletters:

2014 04 03 blog vic secret unsub

These companies are more interested in quality rather than quantity for their subscriber list.  Would you rather have lots of people who are ‘meh’ about you or fewer, but who are engaged (and will talk about you to their friends?)

You can also tweak email preferences when the person signs up, to make sure your mails immediately match their interests, like this one below from King Arthur Flour.

NB: it’s also very clever that the frequency of each type of email is given, so that the subscriber knows what to expect.

2014 04 07 king arthur flour

Standard opt-out

If this is a little too daring for you and if your ‘churn rate’ is at a normal level, you could remind readers of the advantages and go with a simple YES/NO form

2014 04 03 blog clarks unsubcribe

Concerned your readers lost that loving feeling?  Digging a bit deeper

If your subcribers are dropping more than before, rather than seeing this as a failure, use this event as an opportunity to get feedback and thus improve the performance of your future email marketing.

Why should you be interested in unsubscribes?  

It’s a signal that something may not be right and it’s worth exploring and digging a little deeper.  It’s thus useful to find out why someone unsubscribed.  Using this source of information will allow you to bounce back and put into action, if necessary, corrective action to improve your newsletter and subscriber satisfaction.

Before your reader clicks on unsubscribe…

There are a number of steps you can put in place, before the ultimate unsubcribe button.  You could offer to reduce the frequency of contact, to once a month for example.  You could also give the possibility to tailor their email preferences, allowing them to receive only the information that interests them.  Nordstrom groups lots of options together in 1 place for the reader: frequency, preferences, unsubscribe and keep them coming:

2014 04 02 blog unsub nordstrom

If  your reader still wants to unsubscribe, following their opt-out, a optional quick choice menu allows rapid feedback from the subscriber:

2014 04 03 blog unsubcribe successful why unsub

When your reader chooses to unsubscribe, confirm their opt-out and in your company style express regret at their leaving:

2014 04 03 blog puma unsub come back

Other subscriber management methods include:

  • Suggest alternative touch points, such as your pages on social networks: Facebook, Twitter etc.
  • Ask for feedback at the your newsletters to check what they’re getting is in line with their expectations.
  • Encourage your readers to share with you their thoughts and remarks, to rank or review your emails (for example from 1 to 5 stars out of 5).
  • Surveys, such as ones from surveymonkey, can also be useful to get a quick handle on what people are thinking.

Key takeaway: take an proactive approach to unsubscribes before they happen.   When they do, use the opportunity to find out what the subscriber really wants.

So to follow the above advice: how did I do?  I hope I provided you with some tools to get something positive from the opting out experience.

Don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts or comments, to help me improve.  Thanks!

(Lemon image at start of post by Lila Dobbs)


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