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Five Ways to Minimize Email List Unsubscribes

by Karen Talavera  |  
July 29, 2013

In this article you'll learn...

  • Alternatives to unsubscribing which you can legally offer your email list members
  • How presenting choice and control can keep email subscribers from leaving your list
  • Five ways to minimize or mitigate email list unsubscribes

Over the next several articles, I'll be addressing a series of email marketing conundrums.

A "conundrum" is a puzzling question or problem, and I have been asked about a few persistent ones on a regular basis since the email's earliest days. These challenges seem to keep so many people up at night that they're always worthy of discussion and a fresh perspective.

So let's begin with a classic: How do I prevent or minimize unsubscribes from my email list?

Over the course of time, a certain percentage of subscribers will choose to leave your email list despite your best attempts to keep them; and, believe it or not, that is a good thing. It's the nature of any permission-marketing channel:  The ultimate choice and control over receiving messages rests in the hands of subscribers. Plus, we know from the channel's nearly 15 years in existence that commercial email works best when it is deeply rooted in permission.

So, your first step is to accept unsubscribes as a fact of life and not take them personally.

That said, you can take some steps to mitigate unsubscribes by not only honoring the cornerstones of permission (choice and control) but also expanding the choice and control options you offer.

Here are five specific steps you can take both to deter email subscribers from leaving your list and to improve their experience of your email program.

1. Offer an 'opt-down' as an alternative to opt-out

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Karen Talavera heads Synchronicity Marketing and writes about how to successfully use email, social, and content marketing on the Enlightened Emarketing blog. You can also follow Karen on Twitter (@SyncMarketing) and Facebook for daily tips and links to emerging email and social media marketing trends, facts, and research.

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  • by Kathy Widenhouse Mon Jul 29, 2013 via web

    Another way to prevent unsubscribes is to consistently offer great content in your emails. People don't want to be sold ... they stay subscribed when emails benefit them.

  • by Gracious Store Mon Jul 29, 2013 via web

    In my opinion there are two main ways to reduce email un-subscription
    i. Don't "infest" your customers' email boxes with too many emails, if you do, they will shut you off completely. by un-subscribing
    ii. Send them only very relevant emails that are of interest to them, if you do, they will stick around with you

  • by Igor Polevoy Mon Aug 12, 2013 via web

    Karen, excellent advice. Just want to put in my 2 cents. While it is an ever-green advice to always send quality content, I'd say do not be afraid when people unsubscribe. Those who unsubscribe do the following:

    1. They make your list higher quality. It is always better to have a smaller list with high engagement, than a larger list with people who do not care for you
    2. They trust you to not send information to them. In other words, they simply lost interest. This is also a form of respect. Once in a while we see someone so enraged, they click SPAM button many times:).


  • by Celeste Mon Aug 18, 2014 via web

    HI! Thank you for the information. What are your best tips for integrating the opt down in Mailchimp and/or Wordpress? We have groups in Mailchimp - is that the only way to do this?

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