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An Easy Way to Decrease Your Unsubscribe Rate

This guest post is by Michael Alexis of WriterViews.

Frustrated with unsubscribes on your newsletter?

You aren’t alone. Most of the metrics associated with our newsletters are fun to watch.

  • Subscribe rate going up? Cool.
  • Open rate rising? Awesome.
  • Clickthrough rate skyrocketing? Yahoo!

Decrease your unsubscribes

Image by Bruce Berrien, licensed under Creative Commons

So, what is it about unsubscribe rates that is so darn frustrating? Maybe it’s the feeling of rejection that the reader no longer finds enough value in our work. Perhaps it’s the wondering whether they only ever signed up to get our download-bait. Or it could even just be the dissatisfaction of not knowing why all these people are unsubscribing.

Whatever the reason, wouldn’t it be nice if we could just put a stop to unsubscribes for good?

Ana Hoffman of Traffic Generation Cafe is pretty transparent about her blogging strategies. So, when earlier this year, I interviewed Ana, I wanted to find out how she builds and maintains her email list. This post is about the specific tactic Ana uses to drastically cut unsubscribe rates to her newsletter.

The problem isn’t what you are doing

Since you’re active in the world of blogging about blogging, you already know:

So you know all about how to get subscribers and engage your readers. And it’s a lot of work, right? But you are doing it. That’s why we have to look elsewhere for the underlying cause of email unsubscribes.

The problem isn’t what you are doing.

Read that again.

No. The problem is what you aren’t doing.

The problem is what you aren’t doing

The underlying cause of newsletter unsubscribes is that you aren’t building relationships with your readers. Sure, you’re writing content that is useful for them. Sure, you write with the voice you speak in. Sure, you share your strong opinions. Sure, you drop little snippets about your personal life. All of those things can help build relationships, but in the end they suffer from one fatal flaw: you’re broadcasting a message from one to many.

So, how often do you reach out to your subscribers, one by one?

Cut your unsubscribe rate

Hey, wow! Nobody ever did that, you are actually real and respond to your emails.
—Ana Hoffman

You will cut your newsletter unsubscribe rate by building relationships with your subscribers. You do that be reaching out to them one by one. By engaging subscribers in personal dialog, you show them you are a real person sitting behind a computer writing live emails. You show them that you aren’t just looking to flood their inbox with a series of canned autoresponses. And you show them that you actually care and appreciate having them around.

The key here is to change the perception of a one-to-many broadcast into a one-to-one conversation.

Sounds like the right approach doesn’t it?

How Ana does it

Ana uses a simple strategy to engage one-on-one with every subscriber to her newsletter.

She writes them an email.

Here’s her process. First, she sets aside 15 minutes at the end of the day to email her new subscribers.

Second, she opens up each of the “new subscriber notification” emails she gets from Aweber.

Third, she responds to that email (which goes to the subscriber) and changes the subject line to something like “good morning!” or “good afternoon!” Ana says this step gets her a lot of feedback like “Wow, either your responder is so good it knows the time, or you are actually there!”

Fourth, she writes the content of the email. Something like “Hello. Thanks for joining my list. Welcome. I’m here if you need help.”

Fifth, she customizes the email. If she notices someone’s email ends with “.au”, she’ll say “It’s evening my time, but afternoon in Australia, so good afternoon!” There is a free add-on to Gmail called Rapportive that shows you details of the person you are emailing, including their location.

Sixth, she presses send. And bam! With just a little bit of daily effort like this, you’ve built a relationship with every subscriber on your list!

How do you build relationships with your email subscribers?

Photo Credit: Bruce Berrien

Michael Alexis posts video interviews with the world’s top bloggers at WriterViews. The interviews cover strategy, tips and tactics for becoming a ProBlogger.

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Comments

  1. In the beginning, it’s all about personalization.

    One email at a time, that’s the way to do it, until it just isn’t manageable any longer.

  2. Ana has it right; building a personal relationship really is the key to getting loyalty from your subscribers. I know it means a big deal to me so I give my subscribers the same care and attention, answering each email personally. And since most of my subscribers are beginners when it comes to internet marketing, the feedback has been awesome…people really appreciate that personal touch. Besides, it’s ethical.

    Thanks for this post, Michael.

    • My pleasure. It’s such an easy thing to do and I’ve likewise had good results. I’ve automated it to send a few questions in the welcome mail and quite a few people respond. It’s a temporary method while I’m traveling but seems to work well.


      Michael

  3. Kevin Gianni says:

    Michael, this is a great technique if you’re getting 10-15 subscribes a day… What techniques do you suggest for 100, 200 or more?

    Kev

    • Sounds like a nice problem to have… And not one I’m familiar with. You coils semi automate the process like I have (send auto welcome email with questions), but really it takes like 20 seconds to personalize an email. I’d say an hour or two a day is worth it… At that scale you are probably in a position to hire someone to do it.


      Michael

    • tabor says:

      Kev, how are you getting 100-200 subscribers a day?

      • Kevin Gianni says:

        Thanks Michael for the response back :-)

        We do have automated autoresponders that do personalize the experience to some degree and introduce them to us on Facebook, etc. I personally LOVE the idea of getting back to subscribers… so I was hoping there was maybe some additional insight that you had. :-) I think eventually we will start to roll out more personalization like this, since in our market it’s a distinction that already makes us stand out among our competitors. Again, thanks for the post!

        One thing we do that I’ve found to be extremely effective is to open the line of communication between us and our customers. On their email after purchase, they are given my personal email address to send me any questions or comments that they have about anything.

        Tabor, what got us there is 6 years of focused and hard work! :-)

        We have over 900 videos on health topics and thousands of blog posts.

        One of the best things that we’ve done is to take our book — one that we spent a ton of time and money to write — and give the digital copy of it away completely free.

        People have found it to be an amazing value and no one else in the health industry is giving away their best stuff. This has allowed people to pass along the book and we still get optins everyday for it. (I published it in 2009)

        I think the greatest reader/lead generator that you can have is to give away something that is really worth something — something that you really cared about putting together. I know it sounds basic, but most people can see crap from miles away.

        It may leave you without a revenue generator on the front end for a short period of time, but I’d rather have a readership to talk to first before I figure out what products can help them succeed.

        Hope that helps!
        Kev

  4. Good advice. I actually need to start allowing people to subscribe.

  5. Kimmo says:

    I have found that personal interaction works well too. It doesn’t take long and is a great way to differentiate yourself from other blogs that don’t take time to communicate with their readers. I guess it’s a bit like famous people who ignore their fans – sooner or later the fans start buying music or movies from someone else.

  6. Sakthi says:

    100% agreed,and I believe that ,not all the audience are same. Different kind of people needs different information.For this i build different lists and send the niche information to particular lists. From this method i have found relatively very low un-subscribe rate.

  7. After you start to get the hang of list building, you begin to find that getting subscribers is a lot easier than keeping them. It seems that they leave almost as quickly as they opt in.

  8. Shayna says:

    This is brilliant! I did something similar with my first 200 Twitter followers – I sent them a direct message asking if they had any questions about English, and then responded to those who did. I should definitely start doing this with my e-mail sign-ups as well.

  9. Lea says:

    Um, seems simple enough. Just have to budget the time to do it while maintaining everything else.

  10. Mathias says:

    It’s so simple, I should have thought to this.
    Many thanks for this good advice, I plan to build a list soon, I will surely do that.

  11. Hi Michael,

    Sound advice here.

    I write a personal email for each member of my cash gifting list. The personal touch counts. It makes people feel important, feel special, and it builds an instant bond which absolutely can’t be recreated in any other way.

    I also respond to each email from subscribers. Just before I returned a handful of “awesome stuff” emails after sending out my latest newsletter yesterday. It makes a big, big difference. Most people simply want a live body along with value, and the live body part is so easy.

    Unless your business is taking off so quickly that you barely have time to breathe, personalize your experience. Send a nice little email to each new subscriber to make them feel important. As you build your relationships your unsubscribe rate will drop.

    One note: Some people will unsubscribe no matter what. Just bad matches. Do not take these unsubs personally, and do not panic. I had this problem in the beginning, feeling that what I was doing “was not working”, when it was simply me reaching a higher number of people and a few of these folks telling me they weren’t matches. No biggie.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Michael.

    Ryan

    • My pleasure ryan. I’m pretty sure I’ve said before that you write the best comments ever.

      I remember reading on mixergy.com that wufoo each week sent a hand written thankyou note to each new customer. Small touch but people love it.


      Michael

  12. Gemma says:

    Thanks for the advice. I’ll certainly keep this in mind when building my lists. I think one concern I’d have is whether some subscribers might not appreciate an unexpected personal message from me. Has anyone here ever had a subscriber get irate because you sent a personal “thank you” email?

  13. Okto says:

    Thanks for sharing the post. This is what I need to start to build my subscribers

  14. Ryan Hanley says:

    Ana is a master of making her readers feel like she knows them personally.

    I can attest to that as I am an avid reader of her material and have been sucked in by her charisma and personal attention.

    I think that Auto-responders are great but there also needs to be a personal feel to the information you’re sending.

    This a great tactic for making that happen.

  15. I can attest to how much more responsive readers get when you take the time to respond to a simple comment, or welcome them personally to your site when they comment and subscribe. It works!

    I used to send a short 20-30 second video email to first-time commentators to my site using Eyejot. That generated so many good, energetic responses. People were surprised that I took the time to do that, ya know. And really, that sorta thing goes a long way.

  16. I answer my subscribers’ questions when they email me. It shows I’m listening and willing to help.

    I know a lot of Internet marketers who don’t bother with this because it gives the unwashed masses “too much access” to them.

    Baloney.

  17. Glynis Jolly says:

    Ana usually has some good ideas like this one. Another thing I do is I try to answer comments and make my words relative to theirs.

  18. I love the idea of personally emailing new subscribers… somehow I had never thought of that. By the way, who’s Ana?

    Something I’ve found very nice in building relationships is encouraging people to reply to the email blasts I send out, and then promptly answering their question or note. I think most people – like me – are used to bulk emails coming from donotreply@ or an account that never gets checked. Emails (including marketing blasts) shouldn’t be one way!!!

  19. thanks for the useful post. I enjoy reading your blog. keep up the great work