Do you take it personally when someone unsubscribes from your list?
You’re a smart content marketer, and you know that building a qualified list of email subscribers is an important part of your overall online strategy.
But as you build your list (and consistently send out useful, compelling content), you’re inevitably going to lose some of those subscribers.
A lot of email marketers take it very personally when people drop off their list. They fret and sweat over every lost reader.
But I argue that there are many reasons why you want to celebrate — not mourn — when someone unsubscribes from your list.
Let’s take a look at three of those reasons right now …
1. Unsubscribes save you energy
When subscribers self-select and drop off your list, it saves you energy.
The majority of people on your list are prospects and customers who care about your message and appreciate your content and offerings.
But there are some “energy vampires” on your list, too. These are the people who:
- Complain that you send too many (or too few) emails
- Consistently ask you for free advice
- Write (or call) and ask you to go to coffee with them so they can “pick your brain”
Every time you get contacted by an energy vampire, you have to deal with it. Even if you decide not to respond, you still have to read the note and make a decision about what to do with it.
As an entrepreneur, you are always working from a limited pool of energy. Every time you receive a request, it drains a little bit of that energy.
Now, let me be very clear, answering questions from qualified prospects and loyal customers is a good use of your energy. Dealing with energy vampires is not.
Getting rid of energy vampires on your list allows you to pay more attention to the people on your list who appreciate you, respect your boundaries, and want to pay you fairly for your expertise.
When energy vampires unsubscribe from your list, it’s a good thing. So say “Sayonara” and let them be on their way.
2. Unsubscribes get rid of dead weight
There are a lot of totally valid and understandable reasons people will unsubscribe from any given email list (inbox cleanup, employee turnover, change in direction, etc.).
But there’s another, slightly more sinister reason people unsubscribe — it’s because they get annoyed when you send them offers for paid products or services.
Yes, I said it.
There are going to people who drop you because you want to sell them things. These people want to get great content from you, but get angry or upset when you make offers for relevant products or services.
In other words, these folks want something for free, but aren’t really interested in the next-step solutions you offer.
They want you to continue sending them free advice, but they not only don’t want to buy anything from you, they get bent out of shape when you have the gall to try to run your business like an actual business.
You want these people off your list. As they self-select out, give a little cheer. That’s one less person on your list who wants you to work for free. And that’s a beautiful thing.
3. Unsubscribes save you money
As your list grows, it costs you more. Since most email service providers charge fees according to how many names you have on your list, each contact actually costs you something.
If you’re going to be paying for each subscriber, you need each of those contacts to be to be as qualified as possible. You need a good quality list.
When people voluntarily unsubscribe, it actually saves you money. You’re no longer paying to send emails to people who aren’t interested in your content and will never buy your products and services.
Many email marketing experts actually advise that you manually clean up your list about once a year, anyway — so people who unsubscribe are actually saving you some work, too. As the quality of your list continues to improve as disinterested people opt out, your open and click-through rates also go up … which is always a good thing!
As unengaged subscribers leave your list, the overall quality of that list improves, until you are only left with the best possible customers and prospects.
No excuse to get lazy
There are folks in the marketing world who advise content creators to personally investigate why every unsubscribe occurs (by manually tracking down the people who opt out, and asking them why they were unhappy enough to leave). Their advice is to try to minimize unsubscribes by trying to making everyone happy.
Besides the fact that chasing after someone who just unsubscribed from your list is totally obnoxious (and probably illegal), the idea of trying to make everyone happy is a recipe for total disaster.
Your job is not to make everyone happy — it’s to do your absolute best for your target audience, and let people who are NOT your target market self-select out.
If you take care of your list and make sure you are being an ethical online marketer, you don’t have to chase after every person who unsubscribes and find out why they dropped you.
Send your subscribers high-quality, useful content on a regular basis. Don’t publish junk content. Don’t overpromote. Don’t abuse your list. Be sensitive to burning your subscribers out with too much pushy sales language. Maintain a good balance between cookie content and relevant offers and promotions.
Here’s the only metric that really matters, when it comes to unsubscribes:
Your list should be growing over time.
As long as the overall numbers are going up (even if it’s slow going), and you’re retaining more people than you lose, you’re on the right track.
And when unsubscribes happen, don’t weep — rejoice. They’re good for your mental health, your business, and your wallet.
About the Author: Beth Hayden is a blogging coach and Pinterest marketing convert. You can follow her pins at @bethhayden. To learn how to market effectively with Pinterest, download her free report, "5 Stupid Mistakes to Avoid if You Want to Make Money with Pinterest."