Email marketing is a terrific method of keeping in touch with your active customers. It works especially when combined with direct mail. However, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 legally requires you to give people the option to unsubscribe from all emails and you have to fulfill those requests within 10 business days. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Even though customers can unsubscribe whenever they want, the trick is making them not want to. A 2% unsubscribe rate is normal, but here are some tips on keeping that number as low as possible.
The number one reason people will unsubscribe or flag emails as spam is because they happen too often. When you distribute emails too much, recipients get annoyed and unsubscribe to avoid inbox overload. But if you don’t do it enough, you’ll lose brand recognition and consumers won’t recognize the emails when sent. They’ll think “wait, when did I sign up for this?” and then unsubscribe. According to a MarketingSherpa survey, 61 percent of users prefer receiving a promotional email at least once a month. You also have to consider the time of day in which they’re sent. The highest open rates occur between 8-9 a.m. and 3-4 p.m., right before and after the usual work day. Messages have a better chance of being noticed in the afternoon.
Irrelevant content is another top reason people hit the unsubscribe button. Just like with other types of marketing, you don’t send a single universal message. You divide your primary audience into categorized groups and target them accordingly. For example, retailers could send customized messages based on each customer’s purchase history. And insurers target based on demographics like age, income, family, etc. There are tons of ways to segment your list. According to the DMA, segmented campaigns generate over 700% more revenue than the ‘spray and pray’ strategies. For example, Totes Isotoner Corp. discovered their online shoppers were only looking in a single category like slippers or gloves, so they segmented their marketing emails based on the products they had already viewed. This successfully converted many of them from lookers to buyers. Customers respond well to timely personalized content.
- Subject Lines
The subject line is like the envelope of an email. As we say about direct mail, if the envelope isn’t convincing then it will go right in the trash unopened. The same principles apply to emails. Good subject lines should be 28-39 characters long and give a clue as to what’s inside. The team at MailChimp puts it as, “When it comes to email marketing, the best subject lines tell what’s inside and the worst subject lines sell what’s inside.” If you try to ‘sell’ what’s inside then it will look like spam. Don’t use all capital letters, overuse punctuation marks, or include emojis. For example, if a bank sent an email about opening a new account, a good subject line could say “Let’s grow your money together,” instead of “Open a $10,000 account now and get 5% APY!!!” Be as direct and concise as possible and let your brand speak for itself.
- Double Opt-ins
Sometimes people don’t even realize that they subscribed to your emails. Perhaps they ordered something from you and the checkbox that said “sign me up” was automatically marked. When lots of people unsubscribe because of something like this, it can hurt your reputation and deliverability. One way to solve this is to require a double opt-in, meaning they have to confirm their subscription via email. Up to 80% of prospects will likely confirm, so adding that extras step greatly helps to ensure the customers on your email list actually want to be there.
- Number of Actives
A big subscription list isn’t always a healthy one. A healthy list is full of subscribers who frequently respond to the email’s content and continuously do business with you. It’s about the number of conversions, not the number of subscribers. Having 100 active subscribers is better than 500 inactive ones. In this case, you should unsubscribe them yourself, which is a good thing because it helps increase your ROI. When you evaluate your subscription list, look for three key things: when they subscribed, when they last opened one of your emails, and when they last engaged with your business. If they haven’t done any of those for at least three months, take them off your list.