Consumers Unsubscribe for Many Reasons

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Regardless of whether they are happy customers, consumers unsubscribe from email marketing lists and opt out of campaigns for much the same reasons, according to a study from MarketingSherpa. The top reason for unsubscribing is the frequency of emails, with 26 percent of consumers saying that they get too many emails in general. Lack of relevance (21 percent), receiving too many emails from a specific company (19 percent), email content that is always focused on selling something (19 percent), and boring, repetitive, or uninteresting email content (17 percent) round out the top five reasons.

To remedy these and other shortcomings related to email marketing, companies need to adopt a customer-first approach to marketing across all channels, says Daniel Burstein, senior director of editorial content at MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute. “One of the top differentiators is customer-first marketing. [Marketers need to examine] the intentions behind their emails,” he explains. “If you’re going to practice customer-first marketing, [you need to determine] why you are emailing people, why it matters to them, [and] what impact it has on their lives.”

As for the right frequency, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but earlier research from MarketingSherpa suggested that weekly emails might be the most effective. But as always, it’s a good idea for companies to see what works best for their subscribers. A good option is to let each subscriber control how often he gets emails through a preference center.

Marketers also need to extend this customer-first approach to all of their interactions with customers, according to Burstein, who points out that each interaction will affect what customers think about your brand and what they think about your company and ultimately will affect their level of satisfaction.

Based on that, marketing can no longer afford to live in a vacuum, he adds. “It’s really important for marketing to be involved any time a brand has a touch point with a customer, whether that’s product delivery, product creation, [or] customer service.” 

Maintaining consistency is especially important as customers develop deeper relationships with companies. As they get deeper into the sales funnel, customers might start to develop more personal or pseudo-personal relationships with individual sales reps. Companies need to make sure that whatever messages those customers receive during those conversations correlate to and are in line with their overall brand messages, and that “all of those touch points are coming from the same company, have the same values, and have the same value proposition,” Burstein advises. 

MarketingSherpa’s research data does have one bright spot for email marketers, according to Burstein. Only 7 percent of consumers unsubscribe from email lists because they receive emails that don’t display well on their smartphones. This surprised Burstein, who thought more consumers would object to emails that aren’t mobile-friendly.

He presents two theories for this being so low on the list. It might be a sign that marketers “have cleaned up their act and emails are really looking good on smartphones now.” However, it might also mean that it is “just too big of a pain to unsubscribe when you’re on your smartphone.” 

Regardless, he says that having “an email look good however a customer wants to receive it, whether it’s a laptop, a desktop, or a mobile device,” is a key best practice for email marketing.

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