They unsubscribed! Now what?

Don’t you hate it when you unsubscribe from an email newsletter, only to see them show up again in your inbox? I’ve seen unsubscribe systems say things like, “It may take up to a month to remove you from the list so you may see a few more messages from us.” Isn’t that unacceptable? I consider that delayed process to be poor customer service.

This is one of the things I like about using Constant Contact for my own email: I know that I can trust the system to unsubscribe contacts immediately, and then stay unsubscribed unless the contact chooses to re-subscribe. (And by the way – that’s how you’d add them back. The contact has to resubscribe. You can’t just go in and add them back in yourself.)

Is it ok for people to unsubscribe? Of course it is! We all have full inboxes and no one should receive anything they don’t want. On top of that, it’s normal. Email databases can decay as much as 22% each year. People change jobs, email addresses, interests… things change. It’s a fact of life.

“But wait… they’ve unsubscribed! That means I’m not reaching them with my emails! Now what do I do?!”

You can do a few things, which I’ll list below – but the first thing you do is: You let them. From a customer service perspective, it’s absolutely fine that they don’t want to receive your newsletter anymore. Maybe they aren’t the right customer for what you offer. Or maybe they’d rather hear from you on Facebook. Regardless, there’s no fuss to this point. They don’t want to get it, so they don’t.

But now what? Here are 7 actions you can take to manage your unsubscribing activity:

  1. Set up your email signup form so that they can unsubscribe from just one of your email lists and not necessarily from the whole shebang. To do this in Constant Contact: When you set up your sign up form, make sure that people signing up have a few different lists that they can select from. This means that when they choose to unsubscribe, the system will ask them which messages they don’t want to receive. They’ll have the option to just unsub from some lists, or from all.
  1. Monitor your unsubscribes. The Constant Contact program offers unsubscribers the opportunity to say why they no longer want to receive your emails. They may just say they’re moving away or they’ve changed jobs. It’s helpful to be able to see these notes, and can provide some insight.
  1. Follow up with the unsubscriber directly. If they are a customer or a viable prospect, then this is a great opportunity to check in with them. Ask them how they’re doing, if they need anything – “and oh – are you getting my newsletter? I think you might find it helpful…” And if they say they aren’t, invite them to subscribe! Maybe they didn’t know it was your newsletter that they opted out of. These things happen…
  1. Focus on quality content. Consider what you’ve been offering through your newsletter and how it serves your audience. Are your messages about your own products in services, or are they addressing topics your customers need to learn more about? It’s recommended that you stick to an 80/20 balance: 80% of the time be informative; 20% of the time, discuss what you offer. Focus on quality content and monitor how many open your email as well as who unsubscribes… do you see a difference?
  1. Make sure it’s clear that the email is from YOU. Optimally, the “from” line should have your name as well as your business so that recipients know exactly who it’s from. Use this same “from” content every time so that it’s consistent every time you show up in their inbox.
  1. Consider contacting other people still on your newsletter list – some who have opened your recent emails and also some who haven’t. Do they like what they’re receiving? Are they finding it helpful? What would they like to see in your newsletter? Just think how they’d feel if they suggest something and then they see it in your next email! (Bonus: In your email, thank them for the idea!)
  1. Keep building your email list! Use sign in forms on your website and on social media, collect business cards, use text-to-join… whatever you have to do to continue to build your list! In this way, you are replacing the people that aren’t engaging with your content and you are keeping your list fresh and active.

In the end, someone unsubscribing from your list isn’t really negative as much as it is informative. If you can understand the reasons why and leverage that information to make your newsletter better, you serve your audience, improve your customer service, build solid relationships and, ultimately, grow your business. And isn’t that the whole point?