Tips for Avoiding Unsubscribes in 2014 has recently announced its awards for the top 10 most unsubscribed-from emails of 2013. The data it uses is based off the total unsubscribes through its service, but the findings give a good snapshot of the types of emails users are unsubscribing from.

Here are the top offenders for 2013:

  1. 1800 Flowers — 52.50% unsubscribe rate
  2. Ticketweb — 47.50% unsubscribe rate
  3. Pro Flowers — 45.10% unsubscribe rate
  4. Expedia — 45.00% unsubscribe rate
  5. — 44.70% unsubscribe rate
  6. Eventful — 44.20% unsubscribe rate
  7. Oriental Trading — 43.60% unsubscribe rate
  8. — 42.10% unsubscribe rate
  9. 1800 Contacts — 42.00% unsubscribe rate
  10. Party City — 41.60% unsubscribe rate

As I looked at this list, I couldn’t help but notice the majority of brands listed above offer services/products that are seasonal or event specific. While none of the companies on this list are WhatCounts customers, I can safely make some assumptions about the strategy challenges faced by marketers with a seasonal service/product. Here are the top three tips the award winners above, as well as any marketer who wants to reduce the number of unsubscribes, should consider as we move into 2014.

Know and Grow Your Lifecycle Email Programs

Where do your current emails fit into the overall lifecycle of your subscriber? Marketers should be looking at and categorizing their current marketing programs into the lifecycle to help identify where improvements can be made – such as automation – as well as what stages of the lifecycle may need some additional programs to encourage retention. Lifecycle emails outperform traditional batch email marketing because the extra effort taken to craft the right message and deliver it at the right time increases the likelihood of viewers responding to it.

The key to avoiding unsubscribes is planning your lifecycle email marketing goals.

It’s likely the marketers ranked highest on the unsubscribe list are sending too many of the wrong types of emails. For example, if I bought a bouquet of flowers for my mother yesterday, it’s likely I do not need to buy her another bouquet today. However, I may want to receive a confirmation email of my purchase with a discount code good for a future purchase, or any ask to refer a friend to sign up so he or she can send his or her mother flowers, too. Consider where each of your subscribers would be in the lifecycle and what programs you could optimize or add.

Personalize, personalize, and then personalize some more

Move away, FAR away from the batch and blast methods of the past. As a subscriber, I don’t want to receive the same email every day, nor do I want to receive an email not relevant to me. To keep subscribers engaged, it’s important to personalize not just the types of emails you’re sending in the email lifecycle, but also the content of those emails. This requires you to collect information about your subscribers and build personas to better target them with the content they want. Do an analysis of all the data you’re currently collecting about subscribers (preference center, website behavior, purchase history, email engagement, device usage) and then prioritize getting that data into your ESP (if it isn’t already) so you can send more targeted, personalized messages.

Give subscribers more control

One of the top reasons people unsubscribe is because they are receiving too many emails. This could be from you or just in general. Either way, offering a subscriber the option to receive fewer, less frequent emails or provide more specifics around the types of emails they want to receive is a better strategy than unsubscribing them from all. Now this isn’t going to deter everyone from unsubscribing (1-800-Flowers does actually offer an opt-down option), but coupled with the above-mentioned tips it will help your overall strategy.

Let’s make it our goal in 2014 to practice smart marketing tactics to send more personalized, messages and win awards for retention not attrition!  

Lauren Bell
Manager of Strategic Services, WhatCounts

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