At the end of 2017, Google began a roll out of a new quick-unsubscribe feature within Gmail. The unsubscribe cards appear on emails Gmail classifies as promotional as an “Inbox Tip.” These “Tips” can appear on promotional emails that a user rarely or never opens. They can either click to unsubscribe or hit the “No Thanks” link to stay on the list.
Yahoo! Mail (still somehow a pretty popular email platform, after all these years) also added a quick unsubscribe trigger that’s based on a user’s activity within the Inbox.
It’s pretty obvious why some big email providers are trying out features that make it easier to unsubscribe: they want to give users a tidier Inbox. And it should also be obvious why these features could result in an uptick in unsubscribes for your email marketing newsletter.
But What’s the Harm?
At this point, you might ask why this is a big deal. So a few more people who didn’t want to hear from you now have an easier way to opt out. And for the most part, we agree. Subscribers who barely want to hear from you might feel it’s worth pulling the plug if all they have to do is push a button in their Inbox, vs. opening a message, scrolling to the bottom, finding the Unsubscribe link, and going through whatever steps are necessary to confirm they want to opt out.
But a couple things:
1. Even folks who don’t open your email newsletters are still getting a monthly reminder that you’re around and happy to help them for their cosmetic needs. It’s one more touchpoint to keep your practice “top of mind” for when someone does decide they’re ready for another cosmetic procedure.
2. Your email list should be growing, not shrinking. Both traditional unsubscribes and these newer “unsubscribe suggestions” indicate you’ve missed an opportunity with a subscriber. It’s worth digging in here a bit more to uncover the main reasons readers unsubscribe, and what you can do about it.
Top Reasons Readers Unsubscribe
Here are the main reasons for unsubscribes, according to research from Litmus, an email optimization company.
- Received too many irrelevant emails
- No longer interested in your brand
- Email/website didn’t display well or work on their device
- Had a bad customer service experience with your brand
- Mobile app didn’t work well
We’d slice these down to 2 main issues: “I’m Frustrated” and “Stuff’s Broken.”
Improving Engagement when “Stuff’s Broken”
Let’s start off with the issues, since they’re easier to address. Email formatting is notoriously uneven across all the different email providers out there. But at the same time, programs that manage your email send (like Campaign Monitor or Constant Contact) offer tools for checking how your emails will look in a variety of email clients. Broken or poorly formatted email newsletters just really shouldn’t be a thing if you’re paying attention and testing your newsletters before sending them out.
And the same goes for broken pages on your site. Before you send out a newsletter, make sure that all critical components of your site are in good health and are displaying correctly in a variety of devices. Test the contact forms. Make sure your gallery is in good shape. Check the formatting on your specials page.
Improving Engagement when “I’m Frustrated”
This is where the heavy lifting comes in. If your content doesn’t feel relevant and you are losing subscribers, it’s time to change things up. We encourage clients to experiment with subject lines to improve open rates. It also doesn’t hurt to ask subscribers how you can improve. Send an email blast that only asks for feedback and suggestions.
The toughest issue to deal with is unsubscribes due to a poor customer service experience. Sure, you’re not going to nail it in everyone’s eyes all the time. And you’ll rarely if ever hear the reason someone unsubscribes, so unless they reach out or you can tie a bad review to an email list, you may never even get the chance to make things right. Remember that every online communication – email, social, your website – is an opportunity to have a dialogue and it never hurts to ask for feedback in as many channels as possible.
An Eye to the Future
Because “unsubscribe suggestions” features are a recent addition for some email providers, it’s difficult to predict where this is all headed. But it is safe to say that if subscribers don’t want to hear from you, one way or another they’re going to opt out. As more and more of your list subscribers get exposed to these features, it becomes increasingly important to provide valuable, engaging, well-formatted newsletters each and every time.