Digital Marketing, Email, Social Media Strategy, E-Commerce, Email Marketing Advice, Social Media Marketing

Email Unsubscribes – Embrace Those Who Reject You

unsubscribes embrace those who reject you 300x201 Email Unsubscribes   Embrace Those Who Reject YouA long-standing “success metric” in email marketing is the unsubscribe ratio. Like telling children that their pet fish is “just sleeping” the “unsubscribe ratio” is a euphemism.

Your unsubscribe ratio is the percentage of people who receive your email that have gotten so tired or frustrated with your program that they simply can’t take it any more. They’re fed up with your lack of relevancy, your frequency or some other shortcoming, and they’ve taken the extraordinary measure of actually clicking links and buttons to make you go away.

Unsubscribe rates have actually declined in many cases, but don’t get all cocky. It’s not because email programs have become more relevant to consumers, they’re just clicking the “spam” button, instead of using the “unsubscribe” link.

When you think about the frustration level required to actually unsubscribe, it’s disheartening that unsubscribe rates of 1 customer in 200 are often considered acceptable. If a similar number of customers walked out of a retail store yelling “I can’t take this anymore. I’ll NEVER come back,” a lot of attention would be paid to it.

Unsubscribes on Line 1

Hiding unsubscribes on a spreadsheet diminishes what it actually means for your brand. A few bright ideas to shine a light on unsubscribes:

1. For e-commerce companies, instead of tracking unsubscribes as a raw number, track the total value of all prior purchases made by unsubscribers, and put that dollar amount on the spreadsheet.

2. Each time a customer unsubscribes, send an email to the the CEO or CMO.

3. In addition to providing a CAN-SPAM mandated unsubscribe link, offer your customers an unsubscribe phone number where they can call or text message, and an unsubscribe Twitter account. Once unsubscribers start creating content instead of just hash marks in Excel, your organization will start paying attention to the cause, not the ratio.

I’m In. Who Else?

Effective immediately, I’m going to pay more attention to unsubscribes myself. At the recent Marketing Profs Digital Mixer, Gary Vaynerchuk said he is investing major resources into having team members telephone unsubscribers. I can’t go that route because I don’t have phone number for my subscribers, but wherever I can I’ll be emailing people that drop me on Twitter or via RSS.

And it’s already proving interesting. I emailed a gentleman from Norfolk who unfollowed me on Twitter (you can get unfollow notifications by using Qwitter). The text of my email is below.

Keith -

Hi there. I received a notification that you’ve unfollowed me on Twitter.

I want to do everything possible to serve my readers and my community. It would be fantastic if you could give me a sense of what you didn’t like about my tweets, or what you would have liked to see more of in them.

Thanks in advance for your feedback. It’s truly appreciated, and I hope to win you back someday.

Very best regards,

(@jaybaer)

JASON BAER
Convince & Convert
Social Media & Email Consulting
——————————————–
Blog: www.convinceandconvert.com
Twitter: @jaybaer
Ear: (602) 616-1895

Within 5 minutes I received his reply:

You were removed during a clean up of folks that did not follow me back. Twitter stills shows that you are not following me.

A perfectly reasonable explanation, and one I preferred to “your content sucks.” And now, we’re both following one another. It’s a success story.

Everyone and Every One counts

As you build your email list and your social media currency, it’s easy to view individual audience members as less than critical, because another subscriber could be just minutes away. Don’t fall for it. You don’t have to be the very best to succeed in a wired world. You just have to care the most. And I’m going to try to out-care my competition. How about you?

What Are You Doing to Out-Care the Competition? Comments, Please

  • http://www.crowinfodesign.com/ [Charlene] (Kinchie on Twitter

    I like your thinking about this, Jay. If we approach social media relationships like they are sales or notches in our belt, do we really have a dialog? I think listening is more important than ever. Sometimes you have to ask the right question at the right time (like at unsubscribe) to start the real dialog.

    However, I’m not sure I would be too concerned about someone who dropped me because I didn’t follow them back on Twitter. I define my social media presence by whom I follow, by the conversations I listen to online. When someone follows me, I check them out right away, and I go back a few weeks later to re-evaluate anyone I didn’t follow right away. There are a lot of reasons why I don’t follow people back. Many people I don’t follow are offering great content, it is just off topic for my business. It’s not my judgment of their value to the community at large, it’s only my evaluation in terms of my limited personal bandwidth.

    I have recently starting sending personal thank you messages to new followers after reviewing their conversation archive. I send them whether I follow them or not. I do appreciate people listening to me, and I try to listen to the people who follow me. That’s why I can’t auto-follow everyone.

    But that’s a peripheral issue to your main point. I really like your challenge to out-care the competition. It’s a little like that old Hertz slogan about trying harder. Let’s see where the path of caring leads us.

  • http://www.crowinfodesign.com/ [Charlene] (Kinchie on Twitter)

    I like your thinking about this, Jay. If we approach social media relationships like they are sales or notches in our belt, do we really have a dialog? I think listening is more important than ever. Sometimes you have to ask the right question at the right time (like at unsubscribe) to start the real dialog.

    However, I’m not sure I would be too concerned about someone who dropped me because I didn’t follow them back on Twitter. I define my social media presence by whom I follow, by the conversations I listen to online. When someone follows me, I check them out right away, and I go back a few weeks later to re-evaluate anyone I didn’t follow right away. There are a lot of reasons why I don’t follow people back. Many people I don’t follow are offering great content, it is just off topic for my business. It’s not my judgment of their value to the community at large, it’s only my evaluation in terms of my limited personal bandwidth.

    I have recently starting sending personal thank you messages to new followers after reviewing their conversation archive. I send them whether I follow them or not. I do appreciate people listening to me, and I try to listen to the people who follow me. That’s why I can’t auto-follow everyone.

    But that’s a peripheral issue to your main point. I really like your challenge to out-care the competition. It’s a little like that old Hertz slogan about trying harder. Let’s see where the path of caring leads us.

  • http://tysoncrosbie.com tysoncrosbie

    There is a fine line between caring about everyone and pretending to care about every one resulting in not being relevant to some ones… Remember the game is not to build an empire but to build a community.
    I feel a community is more exclusive than an empire and the message more focused (relevant).

  • http://www.tysoncrosbie.com tysoncrosbie

    There is a fine line between caring about everyone and pretending to care about every one resulting in not being relevant to some ones… Remember the game is not to build an empire but to build a community.
    I feel a community is more exclusive than an empire and the message more focused (relevant).

  • Jason Baer

    Thanks Kinchie -

    I’m not too worried about people unfollowing for whatever reason. But I am worried about the focus on numbers and ROI (which of course is one of the main reasons digital marketing works) overshadowing the fact that it’s all about people.

    As Mack Collier says, don’t worry about the tools. It’s about the people. And when I was looking at yet another unsubscribes report on an email program it really rubbed me the wrong way. The attitude of “oh well, they unsubscribed” seems almost barbaric in a social media context.

    Thanks for the great comment.

    j

  • Jason Baer

    Thanks Kinchie -

    I’m not too worried about people unfollowing for whatever reason. But I am worried about the focus on numbers and ROI (which of course is one of the main reasons digital marketing works) overshadowing the fact that it’s all about people.

    As Mack Collier says, don’t worry about the tools. It’s about the people. And when I was looking at yet another unsubscribes report on an email program it really rubbed me the wrong way. The attitude of “oh well, they unsubscribed” seems almost barbaric in a social media context.

    Thanks for the great comment.

    j

  • Jason Baer

    Tyson – For sure. An empire that’s built on a faux foundation isn’t going to last longer than about a week these days anyway. And I’m certainly not advocating auto-following or gaming the Twitter system. And I hope that’s not how the post reads.

    But I am advocating giving a crap if someone says they don’t like you anymore, whether that’s a customer, a prospect, a reader, a follower, your girlfriend, your dog, or your UPS guy.

    We’ve spent the last 20 years in this country (especially) using technology as an excuse to pull away from one another and care less. I want to use it to care more. And in a down economy, I think brands that do so (even personal ones) will leave the other guys in the dust.

    Thanks as always for your thoughtful comments. And for making me look decent! (I had a trackback yesterday that actually referenced my handsomeness, based on your photo of me! You sir, are a miracle worker) That’s tysoncrosbie.com to you comment readers…

    Cheers,
    j

  • Jason Baer

    Tyson – For sure. An empire that’s built on a faux foundation isn’t going to last longer than about a week these days anyway. And I’m certainly not advocating auto-following or gaming the Twitter system. And I hope that’s not how the post reads.

    But I am advocating giving a crap if someone says they don’t like you anymore, whether that’s a customer, a prospect, a reader, a follower, your girlfriend, your dog, or your UPS guy.

    We’ve spent the last 20 years in this country (especially) using technology as an excuse to pull away from one another and care less. I want to use it to care more. And in a down economy, I think brands that do so (even personal ones) will leave the other guys in the dust.

    Thanks as always for your thoughtful comments. And for making me look decent! (I had a trackback yesterday that actually referenced my handsomeness, based on your photo of me! You sir, are a miracle worker) That’s tysoncrosbie.com to you comment readers…

    Cheers,
    j

  • http://twitter.com/djwaldow DJ Waldow

    Jason –

    Awesome piece. Like @Kinchie said, I applaud your sincerity and pledge to “out-care” the competition.

    As an email marketing expert, I have a few thoughts on your comments about the decline in unsub rates. I’d agree that the numbers are going down (not based on empirical evidence, but in reviewing my own personal habits as well as the metrics from our clients). However, I think that the spam button is only one “replacement” for unsubscribing. I believe that many subscribers simply hit the delete button. This is often times the precursor to marking a message at spam. It is a signal that your message is not relevant, timely, and/or targeted.

    Too often, as marketers we forget to focus on the “emotionally subscribed” (http://idek.net/B_) group. To continue your “in-store” analogy, this is like the customer who has historically shopped at your store, but now just walks by…maybe some window shopping….but never enters.

    This is when it is critical to re-engage. A few pretty good examples from Sidestep (http://idek.net/A6) and Shop.org (http://idek.net/B~).

    In your section “Unsubscribes on line 1,” I really like the idea of tracking unsubs by those who’ve purchased before. Based on my comments above, I’d also look at the emotionally subscribed who are prior purchasers. This is your key group. Why are they no longer buying? Where they one and dones? Are they buyers who wait for a sale? This is the group – I’d argue – that you want to understand best.

    Finally, I am also a huge @garyvee fan. A true inspiration – http://twitter.com/jaybaer/statuses/972585745. After reading this post, I signed up with Qwitter and already have one person who “unfollowed” me after I posted about going in my hot tub last night. Again, I agree with @Kinchie on this one. I certainly care, but I’m not sure it will change my Twitter behavior. I use Twitter for many reasons – social, business, political, environmental, etc…

    Wow. That was a long comment by me. If you’ve made it this far….just want to say, after all my words – GREAT POST!

    dj
    twitter.com/djwaldow

  • http://twitter.com/djwaldow DJ Waldow

    Jason –

    Awesome piece. Like @Kinchie said, I applaud your sincerity and pledge to “out-care” the competition.

    As an email marketing expert, I have a few thoughts on your comments about the decline in unsub rates. I’d agree that the numbers are going down (not based on empirical evidence, but in reviewing my own personal habits as well as the metrics from our clients). However, I think that the spam button is only one “replacement” for unsubscribing. I believe that many subscribers simply hit the delete button. This is often times the precursor to marking a message at spam. It is a signal that your message is not relevant, timely, and/or targeted.

    Too often, as marketers we forget to focus on the “emotionally subscribed” (http://idek.net/B_) group. To continue your “in-store” analogy, this is like the customer who has historically shopped at your store, but now just walks by…maybe some window shopping….but never enters.

    This is when it is critical to re-engage. A few pretty good examples from Sidestep (http://idek.net/A6) and Shop.org (http://idek.net/B~).

    In your section “Unsubscribes on line 1,” I really like the idea of tracking unsubs by those who’ve purchased before. Based on my comments above, I’d also look at the emotionally subscribed who are prior purchasers. This is your key group. Why are they no longer buying? Where they one and dones? Are they buyers who wait for a sale? This is the group – I’d argue – that you want to understand best.

    Finally, I am also a huge @garyvee fan. A true inspiration – http://twitter.com/jaybaer/statuses/972585745. After reading this post, I signed up with Qwitter and already have one person who “unfollowed” me after I posted about going in my hot tub last night. Again, I agree with @Kinchie on this one. I certainly care, but I’m not sure it will change my Twitter behavior. I use Twitter for many reasons – social, business, political, environmental, etc…

    Wow. That was a long comment by me. If you’ve made it this far….just want to say, after all my words – GREAT POST!

    dj
    twitter.com/djwaldow

  • http://hlherr.wordpress.com/ Ms. Herr

    I agree with much of what both Charlene and Tyson (and you Jay) say on the matter, but I think Qwitter makes us individual people susceptible to the pitfalls of companies who chase market share, rather than focusing on the one thing they are really good at doing. Features like Qwitter, and any feedback solicited from lost followers/customers, can be used as measure of our continued relevance. We can then adjust our content to reduce our noise. But anyone who is unclear about what their purpose for engaging social media is, and who enjoys the ego-boost that high follower counts give, risk falling into the trap of creating content simply to please others.

    Now turn the tables: With Qwitter putting a spotlight on unfollowers, how will your own choices about who to unfollow change?

  • http://hlherr.wordpress.com/ Ms. Herr

    I agree with much of what both Charlene and Tyson (and you Jay) say on the matter, but I think Qwitter makes us individual people susceptible to the pitfalls of companies who chase market share, rather than focusing on the one thing they are really good at doing. Features like Qwitter, and any feedback solicited from lost followers/customers, can be used as measure of our continued relevance. We can then adjust our content to reduce our noise. But anyone who is unclear about what their purpose for engaging social media is, and who enjoys the ego-boost that high follower counts give, risk falling into the trap of creating content simply to please others.

    Now turn the tables: With Qwitter putting a spotlight on unfollowers, how will your own choices about who to unfollow change?

  • http://primecutsblog.com/ Justin Levy

    I really like your thinking on this Jason! I had heard previously about what Gary is doing and like you, I don’t collect phone numbers. But, I love your thoughts such as using a Twitter account and also contacting those that unfollow you on Twitter. I just signed up for Qwitter and may actually have to test your email template and see what results I get.

    Thanks again!

  • http://primecutsblog.com Justin Levy

    I really like your thinking on this Jason! I had heard previously about what Gary is doing and like you, I don’t collect phone numbers. But, I love your thoughts such as using a Twitter account and also contacting those that unfollow you on Twitter. I just signed up for Qwitter and may actually have to test your email template and see what results I get.

    Thanks again!

  • http://lockwoodletter.com/marketing Chris Lockwood

    I disagree that everyone who unsubscribes is “fed up” with your emails. Maybe some of them are, but unless they give a reason, you really can’t tell.

    There are many reasons why people unsubscribe that have nothing to do with the content of your emails: They are getting too much email in general. They lost interest in the general topic you cover. They are switching to another email address. They’re going on vacation and don’t want lots of mail while they’re gone. Or any of many other reasons. I know most of the time I have unsubscribed from a list, it was not because I was “fed up.”

    I prefer to focus on the ones who are still with me rather than worry about those who left.

    For similar reasons I found Qwitter to be a complete waste of time. Since people don’t give a reason why they unfollowed, you really can’t tell. A lot of people don’t know what they are doing on Twitter and seem to follow/unfollow people randomly.

    In either case, email list or Twitter, the main thing should be that the total size of your audience is going up.

    Chris Lockwood’s last blog post..Can you make this webinar?

  • http://lockwoodletter.com/marketing Chris Lockwood

    I disagree that everyone who unsubscribes is “fed up” with your emails. Maybe some of them are, but unless they give a reason, you really can’t tell.

    There are many reasons why people unsubscribe that have nothing to do with the content of your emails: They are getting too much email in general. They lost interest in the general topic you cover. They are switching to another email address. They’re going on vacation and don’t want lots of mail while they’re gone. Or any of many other reasons. I know most of the time I have unsubscribed from a list, it was not because I was “fed up.”

    I prefer to focus on the ones who are still with me rather than worry about those who left.

    For similar reasons I found Qwitter to be a complete waste of time. Since people don’t give a reason why they unfollowed, you really can’t tell. A lot of people don’t know what they are doing on Twitter and seem to follow/unfollow people randomly.

    In either case, email list or Twitter, the main thing should be that the total size of your audience is going up.

    Chris Lockwood’s last blog post..Can you make this webinar?

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