One of the sad facts about blogging is that not everybody likes your stuff.
In fact, some people hate it. Further still, some people decide they hate it after being subscribed for a while and leave you really rude (read: hilarious) exit messages. I’ll get to those later.
In this post I am going to talk about how you can reduce your attrition rate and decrease the amount of people that unsubscribe from your blog. Its an important part of email list marketing.
Why do you need to focus on reducing attrition?
Its pretty self evident but has to be said: you don’t want to go through all the trouble of writing amazing blog posts and developing free content and tools to capture email subscribers only to have them leave because you are making a few silly mistakes with your list.
And that is often what it comes down to – a few silly mistakes.
Lowering your attrition rate (or decreasing your unsubscribe rate) is all part and parcel of building an email list. You’ve got to get them on there but then you have to also keep them happy and loyal.
How to decrease your email list’s unsubscribe rate
Okay so let’s jump into it and take a look at some of the main reasons people unsubscribe from your blog’s email list and then some solutions for these problems. You might notice that a lot of this is about marketing psychology and “getting in the head” of your readers. That is important.
Problem 1: Too many emails
Solution: Make a schedule
Something that a lot of bloggers are guilty of is sending out too many emails within a too short space of time. I do this sometimes because I forget that some people are receiving automatic follow up emails as well as the blog posts.
If you don’t know what an automatic follow up email is you can check out my post on why bloggers should switch to Aweber. Basically it is a short message that you pre-write and set to go out to each subscriber after a certain number of days. It could also be called a newsletter. The problem arises when that message coincides with another message and people feel bombarded.
Problem 2: Surprise content
Solution: Set expectations early
The second thing that causes a lot of people to unsubscribe from your email list is when they receive content that they didn’t expect. This could come in the form of promotions, blog posts or anything else. It could be totally legitimate content as well but if they didn’t expect to get it you lose the reader.
This is actually one of the primary reasons that people get emails marked as spam in Aweber. I once was told I got marked as spam for sending out the blog updates via email even though I told them it was going to happen.
To overcome all this you need to set expectations early. If you have a blog pop up ad you need to make sure your copy mentions updates. If you have an email sign up page you need to do the same thing. The less surprises the better.
Problem 3: Infrequent schedule
Solution: Coach your readers
One of my biggest faults in the eyes of my readers is that I am unpredictable. It really pisses a lot of people off. I post only when I have something to write about but a lot of people are used to receiving something once or twice a week and get upset when they don’t hear from me in a month.
Even more upsetting though is when they don’t hear from me for a month and then receive three things in a week. I know its bad, and so do my readers.
You need to coach your readers as to how it works on your blog. If you are going to be unpredictable and infrequent make sure you work that in to your branding. Rachelle suggested using Twitter and Facebook to update people about your whereabouts and post-writing progress while you are away. Its a good idea.
Problem 4: No exclusivity
Solution: Develop email-only content and promote it
Another problem that people run in to is when they use their mailing list to just send out blog posts. That is fine if that is all you are telling people is going to happen but if you tell them its a “mailing list” or a “newsletter” you better make sure you have some exclusive content.
As I have written about many times, people need to feel like they are part of a clan. In Danny’s book, Engagement From Scratch!, I talked about how people will always choose a luxury car over a standard car because they want to be part of the club, not because the car is better.
If you want to decrease your unsubscribe rate you need to make sure that the list is exclusive and useful enough for people to want to stick around. If they don’t feel like its special there is no reason for them to be there.
Problem 5: Too broad a focus
Solution: Keep it niche specific
A lot of my email subscribers sign up because they want my short eBook on capturing more email subscribers. And a lot of those people find my free eBook because I wrote about similar topics on my guest posts (a funnel technique I talk about in the full time blogging page).
So, if I then deviate too far from that type of content on my list the subscribers get annoyed. I find that the most successful follow up messages are the ones that really focus in on that subject that got them interested in the first place.
Every time you put something out to that list you need to remind yourself why they signed up and what they are hoping for. Often it is very niche specific.
Some of the most hilarious exit messages from the big bloggers
Okay so everyone who uses Aweber will know that you can set it up so that every time someone unsubscribes from your list you can ask them why they are leaving. I call them exit messages. And these exit messages arrive by email.
This is a great way to stay on top of the mistakes you are making as well as getting a vibe for what people want. But the best thing it does is give you a massive laugh. Or, if you a less thick-skinned, a massive cry.
Today I got an email notice saying that someone had unsubscribed and in the “reasons why” section they had written:
I felt like I was back in high school! I also had someone else say:
I’m still working a job so you are a liar.
It got me thinking that I should ask some of my blogging friends whether they had any funny or super rude exit messages to share. And I got some good ones.
Someone said to Pat from Smart Passive Income:
Why are you following me? Stop sending me emails or I’ll call the police on you.
Diggy from Upgrade Reality had a charming fellow write:
Its all about YOU, you you…sell, sell, sell
But the winner goes to all round nice guy Darren Rowse from Problogger who had a reader say:
Ur ugly bald face needs Hannibalizing
Have you had any good ones?
I’d love to know if you have had any hilarious exit messages as well as whether you have a good unsubscribe rate. What makes people leave your mailing list? Please leave a comment and let me know.