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How To Analyze An Unsubscribe Survey (and Learn From It)

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As hard as it is to say goodbye to your subscribers – sometimes it’s the only thing to do.

If your email campaigns are just ending up in your customer’s spam or junk folder, that’s not going to do anything for your bottom line.

Continuing to send emails to customers that don’t want to hear from you simply increases your chances of losing your sender reputation and wasting your marketing budget.

But before you forget all about your lost subscribers, it might be worth asking them for one last favor. Adding an unsubscribe survey to the page that your customer uses to request a stop to your marketing emails could lead to some valuable insights.

Not all of the feedback is going to be positive, but at least you’ll be able to get a feel for the kind of things driving your contacts away.

Here’s your guide to mastering the Unsubscribe survey.

What is an Unsubscribe Survey?

First things first, an Unsubscribe survey is a small question, or series of questions added to the form your customer uses to remove themselves from your subscriber list. Remember, you’re required by law in most parts of the world to give your audience members the right to unsubscribe.

Plus, allowing them to do this themselves also means that you can waste less time on auditing your list every few months. – which you need to do to remove those inactive subs.

In your unsubscribe survey, you allow users to tell you why they’ve decided to opt-out. Usually, the simplest way to do this is to provide them with several options they can choose from. If your customer is sick of hearing from you, they probably don’t feel like leaving you a huge message about what they like and dislike either.

If you’ve received feedback from customers in the past, or insights from your sales team, you can use this as insight into options your customers can choose. Here’s an example from Barneys, wonderfully branded,  “You Will be Missed” page:

Best Practices for Your Unsubscribe Survey

Your unsubscribe survey appears at the exact moment when your client decides to leave your service. This is a good thing because it means they know precisely why they’re leaving.

The way you deal with the end of this relationship will determine whether your customer shares that information with you.

The above example from Clarks gets the job done, but it’s not the most engaging or artful unsubscribe page. To get the best results, you should be trying to remind your audience of what they liked about your brand in the first place. If you can reignite some of that initial interest, then you’re more likely to get helpful answers (or even unsubscribers changing their mind).

Your unsubscribe survey should:

  • Highlight your brand: Use the tone of voice and unique brand image that your customers know you for. If you have a playful, friendly tone – use it here. Have a little fun with your customer and remind them why they liked hearing from you.
  • Be simple: Make sure that your customers don’t have to do much work to give feedback. You’ll ideally give them a selection of reasons for leaving to choose from. However, you could place a text box on the bottom of the form in case they have something else to say.
  • Show respect: Let your customers know that you’re going to miss them and tell them that you appreciate that they’ve been with you for this long. Just because your customer is unsubscribing from your email doesn’t mean they won’t necessarily become a client again in future. Don’t burn any bridges.

Analyzing Your Unsubscribe Survey

Your unsubscribe surveys are only valuable when you’re using them to optimize your campaigns.

Once you’ve collected a decent amount of information from your customers, it’s time to go to work and look at those responses. Here’s what you can learn from each piece of feedback.

1.    I Didn’t Sign Up for Emails

This is a bit of a worrying response, but it’s one that can be common among companies who have attempted to use various strategies to build email lists in the past. Remember that it’s now against privacy laws to add a customer’s email to your list without their express consent.

If you’re following these rules, no-one should ever tell you that they’ve unsubscribed because they were surprised to receive your email in the first place.

One possible reason that your customers might choose this option is because they didn’t realise what kind of emails, they would get from you when they agreed to receive your content. Some people click the “sign me up for offers” box on your checkout page without reading it.

If your customers give you their email address to get an offer, or because they’re checking out, make sure you get in touch with a double opt-in email to confirm they really do want to hear from you. You might lose more subscribers initially this way, but you won’t have as many unsubscribers to worry about.

2.    The Emails Aren’t Relevant to Me

If your customers tell you that your emails aren’t relevant to their interests, or they’re not what they expected, then once again, you have a problem with setting expectations. In your email signup form, make sure that you’ve explicitly stated what you’re going to send your customers.

You might tell your customers that they should sign up if they want to be the first to know about great deals, for instance, or to be informed about various exclusive offers.

If you promise these things, make sure that you deliver them. Don’t tell your customers that they’ll get lots of great deals from you via email if you’re just going to bombard them with news about your latest products. If you get a lot of responses like this, it may also be worth considering adding a “email preferences” section to your website.

Giving your customers the option to choose what kind of emails they receive, rather than unsubscribing completely, could save you from losing engaged customers. When customers tick the button for “These emails aren’t relevant”, you can even ask them then and there if they’d like to just adjust their preferences.

3.    I No Longer Enjoy the Content

One of the main reasons that your customers stop reading your emails, is that they’re not getting anything from your messages anymore. Someone might have signed up for an email about the tech industry when they were working for a tech company, but now they’re not interested because they’ve switched careers. If that’s the case, it makes sense they’d want to unsubscribe.

If you receive a lot of these responses, however, it might be because you’ve lost touch with what your customers really want to see from you.

It might be worth sending out some surveys or polls where your clients can vote for the kind of messages they’d like to see most often.

You could also run A/B testing campaigns where you experiment with sending out different offers and messages, to see whether you get a better click-through rate, or more engagement.

One excellent option is to use dynamic content to personalize your emails.

This would allow you to tailor certain messages based on interests you know your customers have, or products they’ve purchased in the past.

4.    You Email Too Often

Finally, this is one of the more common reasons that users give for opting out of an email list. Inbox fatigue is a serious problem for a lot of people. We’re all receiving more digital content these days than ever before, and sometimes we get sick of seeing messages from the same brands.

The unfortunate truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for figuring out how often you should be sending emails to your customers. You can consider surveying some of your top customers, and asking for their opinions in exchange for a discount on their next purchase.

The other option is to simply A/B test different cadence options within your email marketing software.

The more you experiment with things like timing and frequency, the more you’ll learn about your customer’s preferences. If you get a lot of responses telling you that you’re emailing your clients too often, try cutting down the number of emails you send by a percentage and see whether your churn rate improves.

Once again, you can also boost your chances of maintaining customers by allowing them to choose which emails they want to get from you. This should reduce the amount of irrelevant emails sent to your customer’s inbox. Plus, it means they’re more likely to appreciate the value in each of the emails they receive.

Learn from Your Mistakes

Losing subscribers is never easy. It’s just like losing a customer.

However, just about every brand will need to deal with some manner of email list churn. It doesn’t matter how great your emails are, someone is going to unsubscribe eventually. The best thing you can do when this happens, is use it as an opportunity to learn, and improve your campaigns.

Creating an unsubscribe survey is your chance to learn why people are leaving your list, so you can hopefully preserve it better in the future.

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