Leaky Bucket? Strategies for Managing Unsubscribes

  |  September 10, 2013   |  Comments

Effective email marketing means getting the right content to your subscribers and getting that content to them when they want it.

You've optimized your acquisition process; you're gaining new customers; you're sending them the content you promised when they signed up. You should be growing your customer base, right? Not if you aren't able to plug the leak on the other end.

You may want to consider opt-down and other options, rather than a simple "Bummer, see ya later." There are three ways to do this effectively.

  1. Reduce frequency. It's entirely possible your subscribers don't want to hear from you every day. You may save them from opting out completely if you offer them the option to receive fewer emails. After you reiterate the benefits of being on the email list, offer them frequency choices you can accommodate, including the options of unsubscribing completely and staying fully opted in. Three to four options are plenty; don't
  2. Focus content. Consider that some of your subscribers may be interested in some of what you say, but not all of it. If you sell items for men, women, boys, and girls, a single man with no children who subscribes to you probably isn't thrilled to be receiving back-to-school emails. Give him the option to receive only emails with men's content. This same idea goes for seasonal shoppers. For example, someone who doesn't have children in her household, but buys holiday gifts for children of friends or relatives may not want year-round emails with content for children. Again here, include the total unsubscribe option as well as the option to change her mind and continue receiving all emails.customize-email
  3. Facilitate email address changes. A significant number of customers who unsubscribe are simply trying to change their email addresses. Consider asking if that's what they're trying to do, and, if so, allowing them to do so easily. This retains the customer history attached to the old email address and allows for a more appropriate messaging stream. One retailer that instituted this process found that it was generating almost one-third of their total email address changes.

Remember that effective email marketing means getting the right content to your subscribers and getting that content to them when they want it. By offering them the chance to reduce frequency or content, or change their email addresses, instead of unsubscribing altogether, you'll be able to improve your relationship with these customers and increase their engagement.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.


Tia Matsumoto

Tia Matsumoto is a Senior Planner on the Strategy & Analytics team at e-Dialog. She has 12 years of integrated marketing experience with an extensive background in business development, client services, and expertise in direct marketing with a digital emphasis. With proven success translating performance data into strategic action plans that increase brand exposure and leverage organizational position she has been integral in the development and execution of multichannel database marketing strategies for clients including: Abbott, American Airlines, AirTran,, Emergen-C, Kellogg's, NAPA Auto Parts, and The North Face.

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