5 Copywriting Tips to Reduce Email Unsubscribes

Email strategy and copywriting could use improvement, according to a recent survey where consumers revealed reasons why they unsubscribe from emails. Consumers used words like “boring, repetitive,” “same ads in print,” “too focused on company’s needs” and “I don’t trust their email” as reasons why they unsubscribe. Today, I share five tips to reduce unsubscribes.

Email strategy and copywriting could use improvement, according to a recent survey where consumers revealed reasons why they unsubscribe from emails. Consumers used words like “boring, repetitive,” “same ads in print,” “too focused on company’s needs” and “I don’t trust their email” as reasons why they unsubscribe. Today, I share five tips to reduce email unsubscribes.

Internet users were surveyed by MarketingSherpa asking why they unsubscribe from emails. The top results aren’t terribly surprising:

  • 26 percent say “I get too many emails in general”
  • 21 percent say “The emails aren’t relevant to me”
  • 19 percent say “I receive too many emails from this company specifically”

But several other answers (summarized in this article by eMarketer) are ones where more solid marketing strategy and effective email copywriting, could result in fewer people unsubscribing:

  • 17 percent say “The content of the emails is boring, repetitive and not interesting to me”
  • 13 percent say “I receive the same ads and promotions in the email that I get in print form (direct mail, print magazines, newspapers, etc.)”
  • 11 percent say “The email is too focused on the company’s needs, and not enough on my needs.”
  • 10 percent say “I don’t trust their email to provide the information I need to make purchase decisions.”

When you have a solid strategy, and email copywriting is put to the test, these shouldn’t be reasons you lose subscribers or customers.

This week, I had the privilege of talking about email marketing at American Writers and Artists Web Copywriting Intensive, so today I share five concepts from that presentation that should reduce unsubscribes:

  1. Start thinking like the person getting your email (duh). My specific recommendation is that you align your message with how the mind naturally thinks. I covered this in detail in my column two weeks ago where I shared a framework describing how to align your message with the way your prospective customer thinks.
  2. There are at least two (definitely more) reasons why someone opens an email, on the strength of the subject line. It’s because you provoked relevant curiosity with intended ambiguity (keyword “relevant”). Or, you promised something specific, perhaps a number, or words such as “how to,” or pointed out that there is a “video.” More about that in my column about using words proven to have a viral effect.
  3. Multivariate tests using email marketing automation can go a long way to identifying what your email recipient wants to see. Consider that you can scramble tests of three subject lines, three headlines, and three other elements (like images, your lead, call-to-action button, etc.) and be able to evaluate 27 different test combinations. One approach is to use Bayesian Analytic mythology.
  4. Pay attention to what other marketers, and competitors are emailing. Recent research I conducted on emails archived in the Who’s Mailing What email marketing database produced findings you should test. Here are the most popular words and symbols in 2016 emails (the most used symbol is the “%” sign, and most used word is “off”), and the percents most popular (“20%” is the highest number found in email subject lines).
    Words and symbols in 2016 email subject lines
    2016’s most used words and symbols in email subject lines according the Who’s Mailing What!

    Percent amounts used in email subject lines in 2016 according to Who's Mailing What!
    Percent amounts used in email subject lines in 2016 according to Who’s Mailing What!
  5. Make your email more relevant with email marketing automation driven by specific reasons people are on your list. Create email marketing workflows based on behaviors such as topic of interest, new customers, lead nurturing, re-engagement, abandoned shopping cart and more. I found a great list of 13 email marketing workflows, complete with explanations, from Hubspot.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad players out there who spam our prospects and customers. But consumers are smart. When they trust you, when you respect their time, and when you send them relevant emails, you shouldn’t have to worry about large numbers of unsubscribes.

Gary Hennerberg gives you the detail of his “Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!” in his book, Crack the Customer Mind Code, available from the DirectMarketingIQ Bookstore. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways, and access to Gary’s videos where he presents them, go to CustomerMindCode.com.

Author: Gary Hennerberg

Reinventing Direct is for the direct marketer seeking guidance in the evolving world of online marketing. Gary Hennerberg is a mind code marketing strategist, based on the template from his new book, "Crack the Customer Mind Code." He is recognized as a leading direct marketing consultant and copywriter. He weaves in how to identify a unique selling proposition to position, or reposition, products and services using online and offline marketing approaches, and copywriting sales techniques. He is sought-after for his integration of direct mail, catalogs, email marketing, websites, content marketing, search marketing, retargeting and more. His identification of USPs and copywriting for clients has resulted in sales increases of 15 percent, 35 percent, and even as high as 60 percent. Today he integrates both online and offline media strategies, and proven copywriting techniques, to get clients results. Email him or follow Gary on LinkedIn. Co-authoring this blog is Perry Alexander of ACM Initiatives. Follow Perry on LinkedIn.

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