Watch that unsub rate: Reduce irrelevancy and avoid unsubscribes

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In a time where the pressure to “blast the list” continues to mount, direct marketers must remember that if they are going to be speaking to their audience more frequently they'll need to make sure that what they're saying is more relevant if they want to say anything at all in the future.

The scene is all too common, a quarterly revenue goal needs to be met and email volume for the week goes up 200%.  On the surface, the approach makes perfect sense. E-mail is an inexpensive channel. More importantly, email marketing is a mature enough tactic that marketers and business managers have come to rely on it as an easy and quick source for generating sales. 

We know that if we send five e-mails this week instead of three that we'll see more conversions and higher sales – but at what cost?  Specifically – how many people are going to unsubscribe from the list as a result of those two extra emails?  Too many direct marketers treat their subscribers as assets whose expiration is inevitable.  In reality, a subscribers' tenure is a metric that can be affected and must be managed.

An unsub can happen for a variety of reasons, but the one reason that direct marketers can specifically address is the relevancy of their communications.  In general, we can assume that our communications are relevant enough for our subscribers that they have not yet elected to stop receiving them. At the same time – we can assume that many of our subscribers are at the “unsubscribe threshold” and that extra e-mail or two is the straw that breaks subscription's back.

If direct marketers increase the frequency of their messaging without increasing the relevancy of their messages, then they amplify their irrelevancy by the % increase in frequency. The equation is simple: irrelevancy  X  frequency  =  risk of unsub

While marketers may not be able to avoid the upward pressure on the frequency variable, they can maintain or - gasp - reduce unsubscribe rates by reducing the irrelevancy of their communications.


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