Email Preferences Help Reduce Subscriber Churn

Posted by Henry Gutierrez 

Research shows that the average unsubscribe rate for retailers is 0.27 percent per email. For a retailer with 1 million subscribers sending three emails per week, this means losing almost 350,000 email subscribers a year. And that’s only if you’re average. Factor in that acquisition costs much more than retention, and that should be reason enough for email marketers to make churn reduction a priority.

Though the intent of the unsubscribe process is to opt out, giving the subscriber the option to share their email preferences can successfully prevent them from leaving the email program altogether. Below are common preferences retailers might offer in an attempt to avoid subscriber churn.

Frequency
Generally seen as the most significant factor in attrition, frequency options give email subscribers control over their email experience. Marketers sometimes send too many messages, or a disconnect may exist between the expected frequency and reality. Give subscribers the ability to manage frequency options based on the number of messages they want to receive per week, or provide an option to subscribe only to certain types of messages that are sent less frequently.

For retailers that sell seasonal products, the preferences offered in the unsubscribe process should clearly reflect that. These marketers should offer a “snooze” option for a specific amount of time or a “Holidays only” option when important calendar dates approach. The wording will vary, but there must be a clear understanding of the seasonal communication that a subscriber most likely expects.

Campaign Type
A global unsubscribe-from-all process can negatively affect churn by suppressing subscribers who would like to stay subscribed to certain campaign types. Each different campaign type (e.g., e-newsletters, promotions, flash sales) should have an independent unsubscribe option. By separating these campaigns, you’ll have a better chance of keeping subscribers engaged with the emails they’re most interested in.

Personalization
There are hundreds of studies that point to the effectiveness of targeted marketing. Typically, subscribers appreciate relevant, personalized content, and dislike batch-and-blast emails. Consider gender, age, birthday, geographic location, etc., when crafting your content and segmenting your list. Providing the option to receive emails based on these data points increases the relevancy for the subscriber, leading to an increase in engagement.

Offering preferences as part of the unsubscribe process gives a subscriber control of the emails they wish to receive, which can only help to reduce subscriber churn. Implementing a preference center does mean changes to the complexity of the email program, which will naturally come at a cost. Many email service providers have cost-effective ways of implementing such flexibility, and it’s worth doing further research to see what options may be available.

It’s also important to get a proper gauge of how many subscribers are churning and how many email addresses are being acquired by your program. Research shows that on average, just 1.95 percent of website visitors end up subscribing to an email program — that’s only two out of every 100. Retailers are in a constant battle to gain more email subscribers, so don’t lose sight of how many are leaving your program. Offering preferences can be an extremely effective practice that shouldn’t require much work once implemented. Reference this article for great examples of preferences offered during the unsubscribe process.

This article originally posted on Total Retail.

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About Henry Gutierrez

Henry is an Email Strategist for Return Path's Professional Service team. His current role includes executing client-specific projects to maximize ROI and deliverability. Overall, he has worked in the email industry for almost 12 years, with experience both as an analyst for an ESP and on AOL's postmaster team.

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