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Not All Unsubscribes Spell Trouble

By Matt Killough

Jarring costs. Dreaded. The email marketer’s enemy.

These are a few of the ways we recently described unsubscribes in our study on the cost of an unsubscribe in retail.

These words are strong, but they’re justified: Unsubscribes cost retailers hundreds of thousands of dollars — and in some cases millions — in lost revenue every year.

However, not all unsubscribes spell trouble.

5 Reasons Not to Fear Unsubscribes

Let’s be clear: Unsubscribes do lead to lost revenue and come with several soft costs, such as lost opportunities to raise brand, product and event awareness. Still, an unsubscribe rate of 0.00% is not only unrealistic, it’s also not something your team would even want. That’s because having some unsubscribes is critical to a healthy email marketing program.

With that in mind, let’s review the top five reasons not to fear all unsubscribes.

1) Maintaining High Email Performance Metrics

Is your email marketing program successful? While there are many ways to answer this question, one of the simplest is to look at your email performance metrics, such as your open, click and conversion rates.

If you want to keep these metrics as high as possible, then you need to weed out shoppers who receive but never open your emails. When these chronic non-openers unsubscribe, they actually do your email metrics a favor. And in these cases, if they were never going to open your emails anyway, the costs associated with their unsubscribes decrease significantly.

2) Understanding the Impact of Various Tests

What’s the right email frequency? Is your email content relevant or annoying? As you ask questions like these and potentially run various tests to answer them, you need ways to measure the success of those tests. Unsubscribes can be one of many indications of success.

For example, if you test email frequency for different groups of customers, you might monitor whether unsubscribes decrease, increase or hold steady to determine where your sweet spot lies.

3) Trimming the Holiday Fat

If you’ve been around the block once or twice in the retail marketing world, you know all too well what happens during the holiday season. Thousands of new shoppers flock to your brand looking for the best deals or the perfect gift for their loved ones only to make one purchase and never return again.

In most cases, this one-and-done buyer problem is something you can tackle, but the holidays are a different beast since many of these shoppers aren’t your typical customers. As a result, it’s extremely normal to see a big spike in unsubscribes in November, December and January, as many shoppers will subscribe to your emails to get a deal and then promptly unsubscribe once they make their purchase.

4) Engaging Beyond Email

Email might be the most profitable channel for retailers and the most preferred channel for consumers, but it’s far from the only channel for engaging with shoppers.

We now live in a cross-channel world, and that provides countless ways to get in front of shoppers (Facebook, search, display… you name it) even if you can’t get in their inbox. And best of all, with an ID graph built for retail, engaging with customers on any channel and maintaining a consistent message as you do so has never been easier.

5) Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Last but not least, our study of unsubscribes revealed that 77% of unsubscribers are non buyers and that the average time from email capture to unsubscribe for these non buyers is a mere 47 days. That gives you a limited window to take your chance and go for that first purchase.

As a result, when it comes to getting non buyers to make their first purchase, you simply have to put your best foot forward and go all-out quickly. One of the best ways to do so is to focus on speed to relevance with a strategy built around engaging, nurturing and converting new shoppers. But remember, even if you can decrease the number of unsubscribes you get from non buyers, this group is still likely to subscribe and then unsubscribe in higher rates than returning shoppers.

When Unsubscribes Do Spell Trouble

Now that we’ve gone through why not all unsubscribes spell trouble, hopefully you have the courage you need to get comfortable with your unsubscribe rate. However, you do need to be careful because too many unsubscribes is never a good thing.

To learn more about the circumstances surrounding unsubscribes and how to decrease your unsubscribe rate so that you’re only left with acceptable unsubscribe scenarios as described here, check out our eBook on the cost of an unsubscribe.

Matt Killough

Matt Killough

Matt has 8+years of experience working in varying levels of Customer Success / Client Services roles within digital marketing. He currently manages the Customer Success team at Bluecore, which is responsible for the strategy and execution of digital campaigns across email, paid search, social and other channels.