It’s a sad fact, but chances are 70% of your current email subscribers won’t be reading your emails two years from now.
The non-readers fall into four categories: 1) They never receive your emails. 2) They receive them but report them as spam. 3) They unsubscribe. 4) They never open your emails.
What’s an email marketer to do? Let’s look at each group in turn.
“Bounces,” or undelivered emails, happen for many reasons: Invalid addresses, full mailboxes, spam filters, or a problem with an email server.
An obvious first step is to start with the correct email address. Make your online signup box large enough so the whole email address is visible without scrolling. When asking in writing, make sure there’s plenty of room to write legibly.
Requiring subscribers to confirm their email address by retyping reduces errors. So does sending an email immediately upon opt in asking them to confirm their subscription. Naturally, it’s a tradeoff. For every step you add, you’ll lose a few more people along the way.
Finally, asking subscribers to add your email address to their address book increases deliverability.
Reduce spam reports by making sure recipients recognize who your email is coming from. Use a recognizable email address, such as Newsletter@CompanyName.com.
Poorly written subject lines are another problem. Avoid multiple exclamation points, excessive capitalization and words that smack of hype.
Sending emails too infrequently may also be an issue. If you don’t email subscribers immediately on opt-in and regularly thereafter, many will forget that they subscribed.
Sometimes people unsubscribe for lack of more appropriate choices. Perhaps they want to change email addresses. Maybe they want to receive your specials, but not your enewsletter. They might prefer reduced frequency.
The easier you make it for people to change their preferences and update their contact information, the more subscribers you’ll retain.
The other reason people unsubscribe is that there’s a disconnect between what they expect to receive and what they actually receive. You can attack this three ways.
1. Always be very clear about what kind of content you’ll deliver and how often.
2. Develop a welcome series – a series of emails that go out when someone first opts in to your list, and at regular intervals over the next few weeks. Use the series to deliver exclusive offers and to introduce readers to specific features of your web site, your blog, your forum, your Facebook page or your YouTube channel.
3. Provide valuable content. A barrage of special offers grows tiresome for anyone who’s not in buying mode at the moment.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle is the frustratingly high percentage of people who don’t unsubscribe, but don’t open your emails either. They need special handling.
Segregate your inactives and work on re-engaging them. Try different types of subject lines, mailing on different dates or times, and/or modifying the frequency of your mailings.
More likely, you’ll need to send a special email or a postcard telling them you want them back. Try giving them an incentive to update their preferences or email address. Send a survey asking them what would keep their interest. Confirm that they are indeed receiving your emails.
Nurture your relationship with your subscribers, and your email list can be one of your most valuable assets.