Irrelevant content No. 1 reason readers unsubscribe
Talk about competition in the inbox: Today, organizations and individuals send and receive 269 billion emails a day (PDF), according to The Radicati Group. That number is expected to increase by an average of 4.4% a year to 319.6 billion by 2021.
“The fight for inbox survival might therefore leave room for only the most useful, targeted newsletters, leaving less valued newsletters in the dust,” writes “king of usability” Jakob Nielsen.
Nielsen’s right. Delivering targeted, relevant, useful information to subscribers and recipients helps you:
1. Retain subscribers.
The No. 1 reason people unsubscribe from e-zines is irrelevant content, according to #LyrisROI. Some 67% of those surveyed said they quit an emailed newsletter because there was nothing in it for them.
In another study, by Chadwick Martin Bailey, irrelevant content was the No. 2 reason people unsubscribed. No. 1: too many emails (69).
When users complain about the relevance of email, according to the Nielsen Norman Group’s research, half intended to unsubscribe; half plan to ignore or delete them.
2. Get read.
The No. 1 reason people like an e-zine is that it’s valuable and relevant to the reader’s own interests or buying or searching habits, according to the Neilsen Norman Group.
In fact, “make it relevant to the reader” was the No. 2 piece of advice subscribers offered ezine creators in NNG’s usability tests. No. 1: Keep it short.
3. Avoid looking like a spammer.
Some subscribers considered e-zines to be spam if they had content that felt random and lacked relevance, according to NNG research. (Note: You’ll never know it if these people are among your subscribers. They don’t unsubscribe; they just ignore or delete your messages or put them in their spam filters.)
4. Keep up with the competition.
There are plenty of tools out there for segmenting and targeting your audience. Subscribers have learned to expect more relevant e-zines and email blasts. Are you meeting these contemporary standards?
So what’s an emailer to do?
How to create useful e-zine and email blasts
So how can you create e-zines and email blasts that get read instead of deleted? Try these 5 approaches:
- Know your audience. Then produce appropriate content.
- Set expectations. One subscriber in an NNG study expected daily weather forecasts when he signed up for the BBC weather e-zine. Instead, he received a weekly newsletter with weather-related news stories. Solution: Accurately describe newsletter content and frequency and provide a link to a sample e-zine on your sign-up page.
- Give readers what they want. Subscribers like getting information, according to NNG research, that helps them:
- Do their jobs
- Feel inspired or escape briefly from work
- Learn about events, dates and deadlines
- Save money with coupons, sales and deals
- Stay on top of personal interests or hobbies (travel, food, recipes)
- Stay up-to-date on topics they have no time to research themselves
- Don’t give readers what they don’t want. The least valuable e-zines, according to NNG research:
- Feel sales-y, like advertising disguised as content, and contain too much hype, fluff or marketingese.
- Are impersonal or irrelevant. You might consider it spam, too, if you received an email from Dell diagnosing the reason for your slow PC — and you didn’t have a PC.
- Arrive uninvited in their mailboxes.
- Write about the reader. Find the WIIFM in your story. Don’t expect subscribers to stick around for a series of ads and updates about how great you and your stuff are.
“Newsletters that leverage these advantages have a stable future,” Nielsen says. “To survive, newsletters need only give users specific benefits that help them with life or work issues in the here and now.”
How do you make your e-zines and email blasts more relevant to readers?
Sources: Kim Flaherty, Amy Schade, and Jakob Nielsen; Marketing Email and Newsletter Design to Increase Conversion and Loyalty, 6th Edition; Nielsen Norman Group, 2017
Lyris, “Turn Your Email Marketing Up a Notch: Five Ways to Improve Performance Now” webinar, #LyrisROI, 2011
Josh Mendelsohn and Jeff McKenna, “Social Sharing Research Report: How, Why, and What Content People Share Online” (PDF), Chadwick Martin Bailey, September 2010