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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 is the founder of Synchronicity Marketing, a company specializing in digital marketing training, coaching, and education.