There’s no doubt about it: unsubscribes hurt!

But you shouldn’t take them personally. Regardless of your email marketing prowess, you’re going to deal with subscribers leaving you from time to time. But before you start out on a manic quest to win back your lost followers, it helps to know what’s normal.

Unsubscribe rates can range dramatically based on what you do. A 2018 study showed that while religious organizations saw an average unsubscribe rate of just 0.06% in 2017, industries like accommodations and personal/professional services saw unsubscribe rates upwards of 0.25%.

Another important factor to keep in mind is that your unsubscribe rates will always look better when you have more contacts. If you’re just starting out with email marketing and you lose one subscriber on your first campaign, your unsubscribe rate will be 0.20% if you have 500 contacts. However, if you have 2000 contacts and you lose one subscriber, your rate will only be 0.05% — what seems like a dramatic difference!

So before you start rushing to win back your prospects, consider why they unsubscribed. Take a look at your email copy, the frequency of emails, the length, and the style of email content before a group of users unsubscribed.

Is it likely that they left because you sent:

  • Multiple emails in a week, or a day?
  • Irrelevant content, or content that was otherwise different from what the opt-in had promised?
  • Content that wasn’t mobile-friendly, or had other technical issues?
  • Content that reads like spam, and might be winding up in spam folders? (All caps, too many buzzwords like “free” and “sale,” or overly promotional subject lines.)

If these sound like possibilities, we have good news: with a few focused changes, you can definitely win these prospects back.

On the other hand, if your contacts are unsubscribing because of poor targeting (they were never the intended audience for your product/service) or because they’re truly not interested in what you have to offer, you’re probably better off focusing your energy on obtaining new contacts and nurturing those already in your pipeline.

But for the rest of you, let’s charge onward and start reigniting that flame between you and your lost opportunities. Here are four steps to take right now to start winning back your unsubscribed followers.

#1: Check the legality of following up with unsubscribed contacts.

If a contact has unsubscribed from all communications with you, you could get into legal trouble for sending further promotional content via email, no matter how brief or compelling your content is. Many email marketing platforms (Hatchbuck included) won’t allow you to send further emails to unsubscribed contacts.

However, if a contact unsubscribed from one list but remains subscribed to another list, you can win them back on the unsubscribed channel through further emails.

For other contacts, however, you’ll have to opt for different methods of communication to get them back — advertisements, direct mail, a phone call, or a social media message, for example.

#2: Wait.

No matter how masterfully you craft your “please come back!” message, your lost prospect won’t be too keen on returning the week after they went through the trouble of unsubscribing. Instead of reaching out to lost prospects directly, see if you can recapture their attention with less intrusive digital marketing techniques, like:

  • Facebook or Instagram ads
  • Google Display or Search ads
  • Better on-page SEO and lead captures
  • PPC advertising
  • Video marketing, which is often effective for top-funnel or cold leads

#3: Create an irresistible offer.

When you do reach out to your unsubscribed contacts again, it’s especially important that you make the right impression. Imagine a date giving you a second chance after a failed courtship: you wouldn’t meet up in your sweatpants and just “wing it.” You’d prepare, you’d be respectful, and you’d woo them with an irresistible activity or locale. It’s the same with your lost prospect.

Take the time to create an offer that is so valuable to them they’d be foolish to turn it down: a $20 Amazon gift card in exchange for a quick phone call, a free trial of a new product, a useful resource that will make their job easier, or a webinar featuring a famous industry leader.

#4: Fix your email content.

It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is. If your future email marketing content isn’t relevant and interesting, your prospects are going to continue to ignore your offers (or unsubscribe altogether). Furthermore, if your subject lines are spammy, you’ll continue seeing an uptick in unsubscribes.

For a deep-dive in what not to do, check your own spam folder. Read these emails carefully and note whether you’re guilty of any of the faux pas that plague these messages.

Then, go back to the drawing board. With your unsubscribed prospect in mind, write an email message the way you’d write a friend: be kind, succinct, and stick to one point.

When you spend more time and resources on creating strong campaigns with powerful content, you’ll not only win back your unsubscribed prospects, but you’ll see your unsubscribe rate go down overall. And while you can never insure against all unsubscribes, you can strive to keep your rate lower than your industry standard — a strong indication that what you’re doing is working.

#5: Use automation to perfect your timing.

Even if your emails are pristine, they won’t resonate with your audience unless the message is relevant to them. Marketing automation (like Hatchbuck’s) can help you segment your audience by their interests, so you can send spot-on communication.

Using marketing automation, you can group your contacts by actions like:

  • The forms they fill out on your website
  • The pages they visit on your website
  • The links they click in your emails

These little indicators all add up to powerful insights you can use to send content your subscribers actually want – keeping unsubscribes at a minimum.