Why You’re Losing Email Subscribers

Email marketing is a big deal these days. And, while traditional direct mail marketing still has a place, the ability to engage with online consumers on an ongoing basis, through permission marketing (when they opt in to receive your email messages) represents great value to your organization. If, that is, you can keep them engaged.

There is a yin-yang quality to content marketing for consumers and creators. Consumers benefit from a wide range of, generally free, content on a variety of topics that provide value to them in both personal and professional ways. Content creators benefit from consumer demand for good content. On the flip side, though, both consumers and creators suffer from the overwhelming amount of content available — much of it is not useful. That can result in opt-outs, and no marketer wants those!

Here’s our list of the top 3 reasons that people may be unsubscribing from your email lists, and what you can do about it:

1) Your content doesn’t resonate (provide value) to your readers. It always seems so simple and straightforward: understand your target audience and provide content that is relevant for them. But, despite the fact that we all know this to be true, too often we fail to deliver. Why? Because we are, by nature, internally focused. We understand us more than we understand them. 

The solution: Make sure that you are taking steps to understand and stay up-to-date on your audience’s needs and interests. You can do this on an ongoing basis by being attentive to the content they are most interested in (where do you receive the most comments, links and pass-alongs?), by frequenting online discussion groups that your audience engages in, and by monitoring relevant social media channels and threads – and, in a more formal way, by conducting research (e.g. focus groups and/or polls and surveys) every once in a while to seek feedback from your audience.

2) Your content is too general. If you’re providing information that can be found anywhere, by default you are not providing value. With so much content freely available to audiences of all kinds, those who are able to provide unique information that rises above generally understood principles will gain and maintain an audience.

The solution: Stay attuned to other competitive sources of information targeted to your audience and ensure that your content is unique and offers something beyond the mundane. This will help both in retaining your audience and, as Google gets ever more sophisticated in its algorithms, and more and more focused on quality of content, will also help in driving traffic to your website.

3) You’re too marketing-oriented or too sales-oriented. Readers are readily turned off if the email marketing lists they subscribe to are overly focused on marketing messages. Yet far too many of these subscription-based sources of content stray far into the promotional realm. It’s counter-intuitive but true: provide real value, and revenue will come. You don’t have to be blatantly promotional.

The solution: While it’s generally believed that a ratio of 3:1 works well in social media channels (3 non-promotional messages to every 1 promotional message), we would recommend an even higher ratio in a subscription-based forum. In fact, with our own content and the subscription-based content we create for clients, we generally only include subtle references to the work the client does at the end of the email.

Do you have other tips or strategies for building and maintaining valuable email marketing lists? We’d love to hear from you!


Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement


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