As a marketer, it’s your job to keep your email list clean by removing the deadwood—those people who’ve unsubscribed and/or ignored your emails. But how do you know when someone has unsubscribed or ignored you? You might think there’s a simple answer to this question, but in reality, there are several different reasons why someone might have unsubscribed from your email list. If you want to keep your list clean and effective, you need to be aware of these differences.
If someone has unsubscribed or ignored you because they think your emails are annoying, unproductive, or contain bad content, you’ve got some serious problems because you’re not going to be able to change their mind. It might be best to avoid annoying, unproductive, or bad email marketers altogether. You might consider sending your emails to a separate, unloved list.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should eliminate all of your subscribers who didn’t like one of your emails. Everyone on your email list is potentially a future buyer or listener, and you don’t want to lose potential subscribers because they were triggered by a single email.
To combat this, and to be able to remove the deadwood from your list, you need to implement a trigger-‐free email strategy. This involves training your employees to only send emails that will be valuable to your subscribers. For example, if you run a business-‐owner support group, and one of your emails pertains to networking, you wouldn’t want to send an email that contains a link to a page with helpful tips on how to meet other business owners. Instead, you could send an email with a simple headline that reads: “Hey, fellow business owners! Want to meet up? Here’s a list of events that we’ve curated for you.”
The ‘Not This Again’ Email
Sometimes, customers will unsubscribe or ignore your emails because they’ve already received them and don’t need or want to hear from you again. When this happens, it’s important to figure out why they’ve unsubscribed or ignored you in the first place. Was it because you sent a particularly controversial email? Did they see an email from you in their inbox and think it was ridiculous or over-‐the-‐top?
To prevent customers from ignoring your emails because they’ve already gotten them, you need to implement a strategy where you only send emails once—and that’s it. Having multiple emails from you in a row can make subscribers think that they’ve received spam because they don’t know if this is going to be the final email they’ll receive from you. So, to avoid potential spam complaints, you need to send at least one trigger-‐free email before you start having multiple email dialogues with the same customer. For example, if you’ve sent your customer an email about a new product or a special offer, and they’ve decided to ignore you for the time being, it might be a good idea to send them a “thanks for subscribing. This is the last email you’ll receive from us.”
You can also try sending a one-‐off email to re-‐activate their account. But make sure that you have their best interests in mind when you say ‘hello’—you don’t want to sound like a telemarketer. Instead, you could say, “Hey, John Doe, thanks for subscribing to our newsletter! I just wanted to make sure you’re still interested in what we’ve got going on.”
The Forgotten Password
A little more than half of all the email subscriptions that go to waste are due to customers forgetting their passwords. If you’ve been sending important emails that required a password to view, you’re probably going to run into this problem. To make matters worse, sometimes the customer won’t realize that their email address and password are the same until it’s too late—they’ve already subscribed but haven’t remembered their password, so they can’t log in. This problem is more common than you think—in 2014, the Forgot-‐Password Bot recovered over 2 million inactive email accounts, which it then reset for its customers. But it’s not just about recovering accounts; it’s also about keeping your list clean.
The way to combat this problem is to implement a two-‐step verification system—something that will require your customer to input their ‘password’ and ‘email’ in order to login. This way, even if someone does forget their password, it’ll be difficult for them to log in—without additional knowledge, it’s difficult to guess an email address that was used previously, especially if you’ve changed any of the spelling or capitalization. In most cases, this problem can be avoided by using the same email address and, if possible, a different password. But sometimes it’s unavoidable—for example, if someone uses the same email address for different accounts (e.g., billing and shipping addresses). In these instances, it’s best to contact the customer directly via email.
The Uninterested Email
There are some customers who’ll actively avoid your emails because they don’t want to be bothered by marketing messages. Sometimes this is because they think your emails are spam or because they don’t need or want what you’ve got to offer. This type of customer is also known as an ‘uninterested email,’ and it’s important to understand why they’ve chosen to unsubscribe rather than simply ignore your emails.
To get around this problem, you need to understand what turned them off to your messages in the first place. Was it something you said in the past that offended them? Is there something about your company that they don’t like? Maybe your emails seem too similar to those of other companies that they favor? Did you put too much pressure on them to make a purchase?
Once you know why they’ve decided to ignore you, you can work to reverse this trend and get them interested in what you’ve got to offer. Start by sending a welcome email that includes a valuable, unique offer that they couldn’t refuse. For example, a bakery could send subscribers a coupon for a free cookie with their order, or a wine store could offer a special discount on a bottle of their house wine. The key is to find offers that will be valuable to your target audience and that they couldn’t easily find elsewhere. You might also want to consider running a competition where you give away a free prize—something that they’ll want to enter just to try it out. The more you can do to make them interested in your product or service, the more likely it is that they’ll remain subscribed to your emails.
The Automated Emails
Some companies get so much value out of automated emails that they don’t know what to do with all the free time that comes with being a digital nomad. These are emails that are sent from a business’s marketing automation software—automated emails that are triggered by specific events, like a blog post being published or an email list member taking a certain action, like making a purchase or subscribing to a mailing list.
Some marketing automation platforms are good, but even the best ones have some downsides that you need to be aware of. One major downside is that, often, these automated emails aren’t sent from a person but instead come from a computer program. Because these emails aren’t personal, it’s difficult for the reader to form a mental picture of who the sender is. This, in turn, makes the email seem less legitimate.
The solution to this is to determine whether you actually need to send this type of email or if there’s a more personal touch that the software doesn’t provide. If you do decide that there’s a need for automated emails, you can do so, but be sure to add a personal connection by including a human-‐written note or calling out the software by name. Even a simple, “Hello,” will make the email seem more legitimate.
The Spam-like Emails
Some companies send out what they call ‘spam-‐like’ emails. These are promotional emails that seem like they’re been mass-‐sent from a lot of different companies all at once. Sometimes, when someone adds a new email address to their account, they’ll get a ton of these types of emails—even if they’ve never done business with the company before.
These types of emails are considered ‘spam’ because they’re so heavily promoted and usually ‘unwanted,’ meaning that the person receiving them doesn’t want to receive them. To prevent yourself from getting flagged as a spammer, make sure that your emails aren’t sent from multiple domains. Also, try to incorporate some personal touches, like a handwritten note, to give the email some legitimacy.