No email graphic envelope with red slash through itOnce in a while you’ll have someone unsubscribe from your email list. Actually, it’s not that uncommon to have one or two unsubscribe every time you email.

Don’t panic, because in reality, you want to get some unsubscribes because that means your list is super focused and it might not be right for that particular person. However, the unsubscribe process is also another opportunity to refocus that person and better target your audience.

The unsubscribe process that your email service provider uses is one of those critical decision-making points when choosing an ESP. It is just as important, maybe even more important, than how someone gets on your list in the first place.

Follow the Law: By law you must offer an easy to use unsubscribe button. Don’t force them to re-enter their email addresses to unsubscribe, this annoys people. Just give them the button, and let them go without doing so grudgingly. However, you can remind them of why they joined your list at the same time by sending them to a special offer sales page when they click unsubscribe.

Keep It Simple: Don’t make it tricky to unsubscribe. Pre-populate the unsubscribe buttons but also offer the alternatives to the reader to choose different lists or information they may want that might be more accurate for them so they can stay engaged with you.

Ask Them Why They’re Leaving: Using the unsubscribe page as a way to find out why they want to unsubscribe can help you better focus your email messages and opt-in offers in the future. Plus, it can give the person un-subbing new insight into what you offer your lists and they may change their mind.

SPECIAL IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT under any circumstances send an email to someone after they have unsubscribed begging them to stay or to even ask why they left as you will only be annoying the heck out of them, and they may get aggravated enough to report you as a spammer and rightly so because at that point you will have just become a spammer indeed.

Offer Alternatives: On the unsubscribe page, don’t make them jump through hoops but you can offer them some options, such as lower frequency of email (such as a monthly option) and/or different newsletters they can sign up for, or other offers that you have that they may not know about.

Take It in Stride: An unsubscribe really is not personal. If you can take the unsubscribe for what it is, a simple request not to get more email from the list they’ve subscribed to and not a personal attack on you, then you’ll be able to handle the unsubs better. Honestly, a clean list is better than a list full of inactive users, so some people are doing you a favor by unsubscribing.

Send High Quality Information: Stop unsubscribes before they start by providing high quality information that is very targeted toward your audience from the start. When someone subscribes to your list, let them know what to expect up front, then be sure to deliver what you promised.

Send a Free Parting Gift: When someone unsubs from your list, some autoresponder email providers will send them an unsubscribe confirmation email which is your chance to say goodbye. Within that you could offer them a parting gift that will then put them on a different list that might be more appropriate for them. But you need to tell them that they are going on a different list. This is a tricky thing to do well and I’m not a big fan of contacting people after they have unsubscribed.

Ask Them to Reconsider: On the unsubscribe page you can also simply ask them straight out to reconsider unsubscribing. Offer them a gift if they stick around a little longer such as just one more week or a month. Some people are only unsubscribing because they forgot why they signed up for your list. This is a chance to remind them.

You have to tread lightly when it comes to the whole unsubscribing thing because you don’t want to make it really difficult and make them jump through hoops to finally get off your list and you also don’t want to annoy them by outright begging or making offers to stay on the list. Everyone will react differently, but it is a golden opportunity to discover the likes and dislikes of your subscribers.

You do want to ensure that you remind your audience why they signed up for your list. You should be doing that, really, with every email you send them. Make it clear that you’re sorry they’re leaving, and, if appropriate, ask them for another chance at pleasing them.

What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments section below.

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