Why People Unsubscribe From Your Email List

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(I had several emails in my inbox recently from people who sent them without permission.  This seemed like a good time to revisit this post).

A few weeks ago, a famous internet marketer had a problem.  The subscribers to his newsletter were complaining.   He didn’t say so, but I’m guessing his open rates, clicks, and sales were going down, and his unsubscribe rates were rising.

Too many pitches

When I signed up for this newsletter, I expected a monthly newsletter,  with an occasional pitch or an ad for something.   I got the newsletter, with some excellent content.  I also got six or seven sales pitches (at random intervals on random days, it seemed).  And, I couldn’t tell which was which.  It got to the point where I saw his name and immediately hit the delete button.

A megaphone, not a conversation

He got  caught up in all his new products, and didn’t realize that he was overdoing the sales pitches. As Dave Navarro says, “Free, free, free, sell.”  Not everything can or should be free, but too much selling will send people to the exits.

Not relevant or personal

He was talking at people (caught up in his new products) rather than to them.  The email promising news for people over 50 went straight to the trash folder.

I’m also signed up for newsletters from Sonia Simone and Naomi Dunford.  Their emails are personal, unique, and sometimes make me laugh.  I feel I know them, and like them, even though we’ve never met.  Most importantly, I look forward to reading them.  I bet other people do too.

To his credit, our guru has changed his approach.  His newsletters now spell out exactly what to expect, how often, and take a softer tone.  He’s also offering more free material.

What do you think? How often do you send your newsletter?  What’s your mix of free and sales content?

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Five Ways to Stop Your Email Subscribers From Leaving

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If you’re building an email list (and don’t forget to build your list and back it up regularly, you want to make sure that people don’t leave. You worked so hard to get them!

While you can’t prevent all unsubscribes, there are a few things you can do to minimize them.

1) Be upfront about how often you will email them

If you promise once a week, but start sending twice a day, they’ll get frustrated and annoyed and leave. Don’t send long newsletters if you promised short ones (or vice versa).

2) Tailor your newsletters to your audience

If they signed up for information about yak shaving, send that. If they wanted gardening and landscaping tips, send information about caring for azaleas.

If you have different groups of people, or businesses, on your list, and it’s big enough, separate your messages. Send tips about the azaleas to the home gardening folks and information about new tree care tools to the arborists.

3)  Stick to one theme per newsletter

It can get confusing if you’re talking about flowers one minute, then going on to protecting your bird feeder from squirrels, and then on to lawn care.

4) Ask for feedback

Invite them to ask questions, give feedback, and talk to you. Include a note at the bottom inviting feedback, and promising that all replies go to your personal inbox.  Send out a survey every once in a while asking them what they like best (more azaleas!), and least (fewer squirrels – it’s hopeless!).

5) Get permission

Don’t sign people up because you met them at an event, exchanged business cards, or sent them some promotional material.  These are some of the worst ways to grow your newsletter.  Plus, people who got on your list without consent are more likely to leave (and leave quickly).

P.S. By the way, check out my guest post 7 Easy Ways to Write Great Headlines at Bob Poole’s blog.

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5 Email Marketing Myths: Busted?

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This post was inspired by a recent post on Problogger written by Georgina Laidlaw, Darren’s content manager. She said she’d done a split test of two emails – and busted some common myths.

5 Email Marketing Myths

Here are the myths:

1) use call to action links
2) sell the customer before they’ll click
3) offer a discount
4) drive readers to action
5) use bold, bullets, and subheads to make your message easy to scan

Myth #1: Use call to action links

This means using words such as “order now”, “click here” – as a link vs. a link with the name of the product or other information. I would use both. See which kind gets more clicks, and then repeat that in the next email. And make sure it’s clearly a link – make it a different color or underline it, or put it on its own line (if you’re doing text emails).

Myth #2: Sell the customer before they’ll click

Where should the first link to the product be? In the fifth paragraph? Or near the beginning? Put both in. Some readers are convinced to learn more after reading a few lines. Others need more information.

Myth #3: The subject line must offer a discount

A discount isn’t the first thing people want – unless they’re sitting with credit card in hand, ready to buy that exact item. If I sent an email selling pink snow boots at 25% off it wouldn’t do much good – unless I absolutely knew that my audience was ready to buy pink snow boots. If they’re men, or hate pink, or live someplace without much snow, it won’t matter how big a discount I offer – it will be irrelevant.

Myth #4 -Drive readers to action

Yelling at people definitely doesn’t work. Instead, build a picture in their minds of how what they’ll get from using/buying your product. Explain the problem, and how your service is a solution.

Myth #5 – Bold fonts, bullets, and subheads equal easy to read

What’s important is to break up the text. Long paragraphs are hard to read online. I agree about the bullets – do use them – and put the important words at the beginning. Use action words (such as achieve, master, learn).

What do you think? Are these really myths? Has she busted them? Do you think they would be effective with your emails?

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Do You Have These Common Email Marketing Questions?

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Q: Where can I find an accurate report on email open rates?

A: Mailermailer publishes an email marketing metrics report each year. You can get the latest email open rate report here.

Q: Where can I find a reliable email list broker or seller?

A: There are plenty of list brokers – and places to buy email lists. I would recommend sticking with newsletters or (either a co-op arrangement or an ad), rather than trying to buy a list. You know how I feel about buying email lists.

Q: How big should my list be?

A: As big as it needs to be to support you. People get hung up on size. The size of your list isn’t as important as whether you’re offering relevant information, to people who asked for it, and who know, like, and trust you enough to buy from you.

Q: What response rate will I get to my emails?

A: This is one of the most frequently asked questions! The answer is: it will depend. I know, but there are a gazillion factors involved (the quality of the list, the subject line, the product, the offer, the price, even the time of day). The best way to tell is to a) keep track of what you did before (which should give you a general idea what to expect) and b) run split-tests

Q: What’s a split test?

A: A split test (sometimes called an A/B split) is a way to see which of two versions of something works better. You can do this with email, a web page, or mail. The answers can help you write better copy without writing a word

Q: How often should I email?

A: Another depends question. Spell out in advance (before people sign up). If you change the frequency, announce it. Daily Candy mails daily; HARO mails three times a day. I send my Quick Tips e-newsletter monthly (though I’ve been asked to increase the frequency).

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Secrets of Successful Email Marketing

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A roundup of email marketing tips that tell you:

  • what you should know before you hit “send”
  • the best size for your email list
  • the truth about buying lists
  • what response rate to expect
  • a common email marketing mistake (and how to avoid it)

What Every Email Marketer Should Know Before Hitting “Send”

How Big Should Your Mailing List Be?

The Truth About Buying Email Lists

What Email Response Rate Will You Get?

Don’t Make This E-Newsletter Mistake

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