4 Ways to Stop Annoying Your Subscribers

Your email marketing program may work for most of your subscribers, but may still be annoying a few of them. Here are some tips for keeping everyone happy.

We all know that the "send more emails, make more money" strategy can provide an initial pop of short-term sales but tends to annoy some subscribers, causing them to leave your list in the long run. There are many tactics for balancing frequency and subscriber engagement, but what can you do when your sending rate satisfies most but not all of your subscribers?

Those subscribers who feel a bit annoyed by your email cadence may not be the most active, but that doesn’t mean they are uninterested. Don’t forget they could potentially submit an order in the future. Unlike more aggressive re-engagement strategies that involve removing inactive subscribers from your list if they don’t take an action, there are ways to give these middle-of-the-road subscribers more options in order to keep them on your list and save potentially lost sales without annoying them in the process.

Here’s how:

1. Change the Topic

First, identify the subscribers who may be feeling overwhelmed with the number of emails you are sending. You may have tested variations in your cadence and found the ideal rate for the majority of your list, but these subscribers have started to tune out anyway. It’s time to employ some defensive tactics to help re-energize these subscribers.

If you are unwilling or unable to decrease the number of emails you send (I’ve been stuck in that situation before. You are not alone!), try flipping the script and changing the topic in your promotional emails. Occasionally use a contrasting subject line theme (i.e. short vs. long, promotional vs. playful, literal vs. coy) or include a clever pre-header content element, and you may introduce just enough variation in your cadence to make these subscribers feel less inundated.

2. Take a Break

If your segment of increasingly inactive subscribers is larger than you expected, try excluding these subscribers from emails that could be seen as superfluous to see if that makes an impact. I know the power of remailing and agree that "Only Hours Left" emails boost end of promo sales, but these additional emails could be aggravating some subscribers and causing a decline in your list size. Create a control segment and a test segment to determine which messages could be skipped to give these subscribers a breather without sacrificing sales. Trust me, you will find at least one email you can suppress to provide long-term retention benefits.

3. Frequency Opt-Down

The last two recommendations offer the subscriber options for self-selecting their email frequency. Not only does an opt-down option give the subscriber some control over the communications they will receive, but it can also give you insight into how your subscribers perceive your current frequency. In my tests, these options are best placed on opt-out pages rather than regular email preference centers. The benefits of saving the subscriber who wants to opt-out outweigh offering active subscribers the chance to simply opt down. These opt-down options could be time-based (only receive weekly/monthly emails) or promotion-based (product-specific sales or the best sale for the month).

4. Seasonal Suppression

Even if you have some year-round customers, you may have a segment of customers who only want to buy from you during certain times of the year. This could be based on certain holidays or seasonal and weather shifts. Shortly after a peak shopping period, offer subscribers who have taken an engagement nose-dive the option to pause emails until the next peak period. You should review past-purchase data to ensure you are not targeting a group who thinks they want fewer emails but are still likely to buy during the downtime. You can set an expectation that you may check in with them before the season kicks back up to see if they want to make any adjustments. Setting this expectation on the seasonal opt-out form allows you to periodically check in without dishonoring their request.

Giving your subscribers more ways to stay involved with your program and control how they interact with your brand provides a level of convenience that will help keep your brand top-of-mind when the subscriber is ready to shop. These strategies can help you find just the right balance in your messaging frequency and reduce the likelihood that you will annoy your subscribers.

Click here to learn more about the author, Jim Davidson.

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