Email marketing: improving the unsubscribe process

Michele Linn End of last year, I posted a text, called ‘an unsubscribe is an opportunity‘, explaining how an unsubscribe is an opportunity to communicate with the recipients of your emails and to better understand the preferences of the people in your emailing list.

Contributor and B2B marketing consultant Michele Linn looks at it from a personal perspective and points out some tips for email marketers.

I recently was out of town for a few days, and I came back to a deluge of email. I found it oddly liberating to purge much of my email without even reading it (unless it was from a client or a friend, it went in the trash). And you know what? I didn’t miss any of it.

Now, if I receive an email from a company or organization I rarely read, I am mercilessly unsubscribing. You would think all companies would handle the unsubscribe process the same, but they don’t. And this got me thinking.

Even though I am unsubscribing from these emails doesn’t mean that I don’t like the company or even that I don’t find the info to be valuable; personally, I just can’t consume that much right now. This is likely the case with some of your subscribers as well.

So, even though the unsubscribe process shouldn’t be a priority, you should give it some consideration as those who are unsubscribing could still be potential customers.

Here are some things I think work well that you may be able to use in your unsubscribe process.

Make the unsubscribe process easy.

About 50% of the time I clicked on the unsubscribe link, I was taken to a page where it told me that I have been unsubscribed – great!

Sometimes, my email was required. While this wasn’t ideal, I can accept that.

But, there are also times when I was asked to log in. In those cases, I left the page, thinking it would be easier for me to delete the emails (or set up a rule to send them directly to the trash) than find my login info. They kept me as a subscriber, for now, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Ask why I am unsubscribing. I’ll (usually) tell you.

I would estimate that about a quarter of the times I unsubscribed I was asked why I was unsubscribing. Usually there were several choices to select, which I always did.

Othertimes, there was a comment box where I could tell the company why I was unsubscribing. Unless I had affinity for the company, I rarely entered info when it was so open-ended.

In short, ask subscribers why they no longer wish to receive your email and make it easy for them to respond.

Offer an option to receive emails less frequently.

A few of the companies offered me an option to receive emails less frequently. While I didn’t always select this option, I did on a couple of occasions.

Give me another way to get information from you.

One of the companies offered me additional ways to stay in contact with them, giving me a link to their RSS feeds and catalog (this happened to be a retail company). I liked this approach because it realizes that, even though I am unsubscribing, I may still be interested in their services. Is there anything you can offer to your subscribers?

The bottom line: Even though someone has asked not to receive an email from you does not mean that you have lost them as a potential customer (or future subscriber).

Aim to understand why people are unsubscribing and offer ways to stay in contact that may be easier for them to manage.

Michele Linn is a founding member and frequent blogger at Savvy B2B
. Her website is Linn
. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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