Did you know it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one? Or that by increasing your retention rate by just 5%, you can increase your profits by 25-95%?
Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk email marketing.
Email marketing is one of the top ways to retain customers. But in order to do that, we’ve got to keep people on our list.
Unfortunately, a lot of business owners put too much emphasis on growing the list instead of retaining the subscribers they have. Meanwhile, they’re losing subscribers left and right, sometimes before they even get the first welcome email.
In order to make email marketing an effective retention technique, we’ve got to retain subscribers. Here’s how to do it.
Encourage Email Confirmation
Several major email services, like MailChimp and Aweber, use a double-opt in process by default to verify new subscribers.
This means that when someone subscribes to your email list, they’re sent a confirmation email with a link they have to click to confirm they want to get emails from you.
While the double opt-in process has it’s advantages (like a more engaged list, reducing spammers, less probability of getting marked as spam mail), it also has its disadvantages — namely, between 20-40% of people forget to confirm.
To ensure you’re retaining the maximum number of opt-ins, use your Thank You page to remind subscribers to confirm.
Keep in mind that a lot of people skim the Thank You page (if they read it at all), so get creative. Use a unique image to grab subscribers’ attention, and make sure you point out they’ll need to confirm their subscription before they can receive what they signed up for.
As an alternative method, you could also wait to send people to your Thank You page until they’ve confirmed. Based on your website and analytics set up, you could include the reminder to confirm directly in the sign-up box or on a special redirect page.
Improve Your Unsubscribe Page
What happens when someone unsubscribes from your list? Are they sent to a standard unsubscribe page that confirms they have been removed?
If you’re using the out-of-the-box unsubscribe confirmation, you could be missing the chance to retain current and future subscribers!
First and foremost, you can offer alternatives to fully unsubscribing, such as receiving emails less frequently or only receiving a certain type of email (like promotions).
You can also use this page as a place to capture feedback as to why someone is unsubscribing, which can help you improve the experience for current and future subscribers.
Before we talk about retargeting unsubscribers, let’s talk about legality. As of 5/25/18, site owners can get into some pretty serious legal trouble with the European Union if they do not disclose up front that someone’s email can be used for retargeting… even after they unsubscribe.
As a business, you need to make a choice as to whether you consider unsubscribes as someone who is gone forever (in which case you should delete and scrub everything), or as someone is only gone from this specific email list.
If the latter is the case, you can create audiences to retarget these email addresses with promoted content — you can also create lookalike audiences to reach a broader base of people who may also be interested in this content.
In some cases, I’ve actually mined unsubscribes for lookalikes to exclude from promotional campaigns because these people have proven to be disinterested in being on my list.
Keep in mind that pre-2018 case studies you may see while researching retargeting unsubscribing does not take into account these new legal changes.
Also, keep in mind that this is only as effective as your retention efforts are. You can get someone back on your list, but if the experience of being there isn’t great, they’ll be hopping right back off again.
Which brings us to…
Improve the User Experience
At the end of the day, being subscribed to your email list has to be a pleasant experience. If it’s not, people won’t stick around (and no amount of retargeting will help).
Look at your email marketing holistically and evaluate each step:
- Welcome Email: Your welcome email is someone’s first impression of your email marketing. Does it stand out? Does it deliver what the subscriber opted-in for, and in a timely manner? This first touch should set the tone for the entire experience of being on your email list… make sure it’s a good one.
- Email Templates: Email is a complementary experience, which means people often check it while doing something else (like watching TV). Make sure your templates are mobile-friendly, updated with relevant information, and easy to consume and use.
- Segmentation: People want relevant information. By segmenting your audience, you can ensure they receive only the most pertinent information based on their interests and behaviors. Learn more about different ways to segment your emails below.
- Frequency: Are you bombarding your subscribers with emails? Are you not emailing them enough? Your ideal frequency is going to depend on several things, such as the goals of your emails, your audience, your product/services, etc. Test different frequencies and keep an eye on your open rate and unsubscribe rate. You can also allow customers to choose their email frequency in their email preferences.
Segment Your Email Sends
The “secret sauce” to every successful email marketer is segmentation. Sure — there’s basic user experience segmentation. But there’s also “super-segmentation” where you send specific email autoresponder flows to specific subscribers based on the content to which they’ve subscribed.
Email marketing allows you to create an entire world for every single reader.
The difference between super-segmentation and basic segmentation is like the difference between sending invitations to a party and having a one-on-one coffee meetup.
You can use basic autoresponders or fancy marketing automation, but it’s up to you to map out your subscriber’s world.
For example, suppose you run a course on photography. A dedicated hobbyist and an aspiring business owner may both be ideal customers. And they both might be interested in all of your content.
But you can dramatically reduce your churn rate — and increase your conversions — if you craft “custom worlds” for each instead of using generic email blasts.
Takeaways and Next Steps
Retaining customers may cost less than acquiring new ones, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to work at it — especially when it comes to email marketing.
If you’re looking to retain more email subscribers, take a look at the user experience first and foremost. If this isn’t on point, no amount of retention efforts is going to help!