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Email Marketing Best Practices To Reduce Unsubscribes


by Fayez Mohamood, cofounder and CEO of Bluecore

direct-mail-successHigher rates of unsubscription can prove disastrous for companies. Consider an email list of 500,000 individuals. With a moderate unsubscribe rate of 0.2%, the company is losing 1,000 people per email. At an email a week, the company is dropping more than 4,000 prospects or customers a month, a significant deficit that will require marketing to work hard to rectify with new email leads. Reducing the rate of unsubscribes can pay substantial long-term benefits by converting more prospects into customers and encouraging repeat buying.

Here are several best practices companies should be using to reduce unsubscribes and improve their email marketing: 

Provide the “Why”.

Before sending an email to a group of customers or prospects, it’s important to write down the underlying “why” of the email. Why are you sending this email to this group? Why will they be encouraged to open and read the email? Why will they click your call-to-action? The subject line should be carefully worded so it conveys information but doesn’t scream “spam.”

If you don’t have clear reasons for contacting the recipient, then you’re asking for higher unsubscribe rates. Your subject line or call-to-action should always reference the “why” so the customer immediately sees a reason for engaging.

Use engagement data wisely.

If you have a population of people that are already active on a site, then you might be causing harm by pestering them with email content. If you have a group that is already doing the actions you desire (shopping online and making purchases), then you don’t always want to push them to do more.

Harness data about user engagement to best judge which groups should receive email and how frequently you can communicate. Don’t risk an influx of unsubscribes from your most valuable base of contacts.

Offer configuration options.

Consumers expect personalized experiences when it comes to interacting with brands. They want to have some measure of control over the experience, so be sure to provide them with choices. For email, include a prominent link to a configurable email preference center where the recipient can dictate the type, timing, and frequency of email communications they receive. A frequently given reason for individuals to opt out of email is they feel they are receiving too many emails.

A prospect that only wants to be contacted once a month holds much more value than an unsubscriber who simply felt pestered by weekly emails. Offering choices and allowing them to dictate the type of messages they receive is both polite and an easy way to build some goodwill for your brand.

Send a brief unsubscribe acknowledgement email.

You should offer one-click unsubscribe in order to give contacts a quick and frustration-free process. You can also send them a one-line confirmation stating they will no longer receive messages (with a re-subscription button for those that clicked on accident), but be sure you don’t make them do a double opt-out. You should also track such confirmation messages to be sure they aren’t generating further spam complaints.

Keep a clean list.

In order to prevent unsubscribes, it’s essential to remove the contacts that are likely to be annoyed with your message. This means keeping a clean opt-in only list and removing contacts received from other sources.

Create well designed emails – for desktop and mobile.

Contacts that receive a poorly rending email will either delete it or they might unsubscribe. Subliminally, they might associate your poor design efforts with poor service or products. You must have mobile-optimized content that looks natural when viewed on phones and tablets. It goes along with the core rule of preventing unsubscribes which is “don’t annoy the recipient.”

Avoid spam at all costs.

While unsubscribes are bad, spam complaints are much worse. An overload of spam complaints can cause problems with your email marketing firm and impact your brand on social channels if you develop a “spammer” reputation. It seems counterintuitive, but you want to prominently display a link to unsubscribe so users don’t simply click on the spam button.

Companies that focus on lowering unsubscription rates will find they have improved their messaging and overall email marketing strategy as well. Messages that have a clear purpose, are well-designed for mobile, and personalized for the individual are ideal for capturing sales and leads, as well as reducing dissatisfied unsubscribers.


fayez mohamood

Fayez Mohamood is cofounder and CEO of Bluecore, enabling eCommerce marketers to create and distribute personalized triggered emails with the speed and precision not previously possible, dynamically reacting to customer behaviors and cataloging changes in seconds. With more than 70 partners representing more than 100 consumer brands. Bluecore is one of New York City’s fastest growing startups, recently closing a Series A round led by FirstMark Capital.