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.

13 Copywriting Quick Tips, Brought to You by IMV15

A few takeaways from the Integrated Marketing Virtual show which stuck with me as particularly helpful for copywriting purposes.

Did you get a chance to check out the Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference? It was live on August 13, but all sessions are now available on demand. The virtual show is co-presented by Target Marketing and is all about helping marketers and marketing service providers gather highly actionable tools and resources for the most effective integrated marketing efforts.

I was able to attend most of the live sessions, and I just wanted to share a few takeaways which stuck with me as particularly helpful for copywriting purposes. Even sessions not strictly focused on copy/creative had tips that could easily apply!

Morning Keynote: How Mindful Marketers Thrive in a Data-Driven World
Featuring: Lisa Nirell; Author, “The Mindful Marketer: How to Stay Present and Profitable in a Data-Driven World.”

A session all about being as clear-headed and deliberate in your marketing as possible, learning to tune out all distractions in a distraction-heavy world to the benefit of your marketing.

  • Research shows only about 2 percent of all people are actually able to multitask effectively – so most likely, our phones and emails should ideally be off and out of reach while trying to write the most focused and engaging messages no matter how good at it we think we are.
  • “You’re just not going to get your best ideas sitting at your desk.One of Nirell’s suggestions is even to go to an entirely unrelated quiet place like an art museum to try and better foster creativity while working on your projects.
  • Use more intentional language – Lisa explains the subtle differences between words that imply aggression or desperation, and words which imply a helpful and accommodating relationship with the reader, i.e.: pursue and push vs. nurture and shepherd.

Reaching Across Generations: The best ways to message from Baby Boomers to Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z
Featuring: Dr. Howard Moskowitz, Award-winning Marketing Researcher and Psychophysicist and Luke Heffron, SVP Integrated Marketing, sg360.

The title is self-explanatory. So what key takeaways did I get from this session about copywriting?

  • Similar viewpoints exist in every generation.
  • “You have to empirically discover each viewpoint,” then tailor your viewpoint message to that generation, rather than assuming a major disconnect in views between the ages.
  • Example: A buyer’s viewpoint might be “eco-driven” whatever their generation, but a millennial might just need to hear “good for the earth” where a Boomer would resonate with “healthier for the family.”

How to Overcome the 3 Most Common Content Marketing Barriers to Increase Traffic and Conversions
Featuring: Dan Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute and MarketingSherpa.

A fascinating session on how leading brands connect with their customers using content marketing as part of a multichannel strategy and major mistakes to avoid. Copywriting takeaways, especially in the context of content creation:

  • Good content is focused on the audience and message, not the medium.
  • Message should be helpful, educational, sharable, and mostly non-promotional.
  • These hugely helpful tips for writing blog posts as content marketing (whoa, getting meta here).Capture

This list is in no way exhaustive. With over six hours of integrated marketing sessions, free resources and sponsor booths, it’s definitely in your interest to pop into the show during its on demand period and take in all the marketing smarts you can stuff into your cranium. Additional sessions cover topics like MarTech, creating profitable video, the return of direct mail and plenty more.

If you’re interested in more hot tips and tricks from the best in the biz, you can click here and sign up for your free, instant access to the show. It’ll be available until November 17.