How To Fight List Decay – Stop Sharing Boring Updates

Marketers overvalue visible metrics. We often judge the success of social media and email campaigns by the total number of subscribers, however, acquisition is only half the story. The rate of subscriber decay (unsubscribes and unfollowing) is an essential metric for determining the health of your marketing list.

Considering 61% of consumers follow brands on social media and 25% prefer to receive text messages, there’s a huge opportunity for companies to build a community of loyal followers. Incentivizing customers to follow your brand or sign up for announcements is an easy way to acquire more subscribers, but one too many irrelevant messages and they will quickly unsubscribe. One report by Marketing Sherpas found that B2B email list data decays at 2.1% per month; that equates to an annualized rate of 22.5% decay per year. This means, you will lose roughly one quarter of your subscribers each year unless you work just as hard to reduce subscriber churn as you do to acquire those subscribers. Drawing on Waterfall’s internal client data, we calculated that the typical list of mobile subscribers decays at a rate of .5% – 2% each year. No matter if it’s social media, email, or mobile messaging, whichever marketing list you build will ultimately decay.

In this post, we’ll cover what list decay looks like across different channels, why people unsubscribe, the incredibly simple trick to decrease  subscriber decay, and which content keeps your followers engaged.

List Decay Is Different for Each Channel

Ask any marketer, and they will tell you they have dealt with list decay. Every time someone unsubscribes from an email or unfollows you on Twitter, this is an example of list decay. Fractl and Buzzstream conducted a survey of over 900 social media users on why they unfollow brands, and the results were eye-opening. Customers are most likely to unfollow a brand on Facebook, then on Twitter, and finally on LinkedIn. In fact, 49% of survey respondents claimed they never unfollow brands on LinkedIn, whereas roughly 20% said they unfollowed a brand on Facebook and Twitter within the last month.

Before we dive into why people unfollow brands, it’s important to keep in mind the nature of updates on each network. Facebook and LinkedIn do not show all content in the order in which it was released. Certain posts from your company may not appear because a customer’s friend’s updates could supercede your brands in terms of “likes.”. On Twitter, your company messages could never be seen because you don’t post during the time that your target customer is scrolling through their Twitter feed. With Email and SMS, it’s simple since both channels store all messages in an inbox.

What’s clear from the varying rates of list decay for email, social, and mobile messaging is that each channel is unique. Optimize your content and frequency for posting depending on the channel. Think  about the likelihood someone will see the post based on much other content is in their feed and the competing types of content.

Why People Leave Your List

The three main reasons why people unfollow brands on social media are:

  1. The content is repetitive or boring
  2. The brand  posts / sends content too frequently
  3. Newsfeeds are too crowded and people want less clutter

Something to note with email is that people give the same reasons for why they unsubscribe,  but rank decluttering their inbox above frequency of sending. One clear solution for dealing with the majority of unsubscribes is so simple – post less frequently! The more often you post, the more likely you are to repeat yourself. Trust me, I know the feeling that you need to keep posting content, tweeting, and updating everyone. You think, “Each new post, like, follow, retweet, etc. could potentially drive new signups,” but what’s the point if it causes you to lose followers just as fast as gaining them.

Dealing with Digital Cleaning

One of the hardest things to grapple with as a marketer is the practice of social hygiene and decluttering. People tend to fill up their inboxes and feeds with tons of friends, family, and companies until they become overwhelmed. Despite all the hard work you put into your communication, people may simply leave your list because they need less clutter.

Don’t fret. Think about cleaning. What’s more effective: getting rid of a huge old Bowflex system you never use or tossing some tiny trinkets from your vacation to Bermuda? Obviously, when cleaning, you want to tackle the largest items first. The solution? POST LESS FREQUENTLY!

Your twitter feed, facebook page, LinkedIn page, SMS list, and Email subscribers should look at your content as the shiny gem that brightens their day. Not some annoying stream of information.

How to Keep Users Subscribed

Below are the social media activities that matter the most for keeping  your subscribers engaged.

  1. Interesting content
  2. Relevant content
  3. Engagement with followers
  4. Consistent frequency of posting

When it comes to social media channels, he most preferred type of  content is images, then videos, customer reviews, and company news / updates. Strangely, resources like white papers, eBooks, Case Studies, and infographics all rank below 10% for consumer preference. It’s not confusing, people prefer engaging images and short updates over large eBooks and verbose white papers.

List decay is inevitable, however,  not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes people get new email addresses, moved on from your service, or have decided to live on an Amish Farm and no longer want to receive flash deals on designer shoes. You actually want them to leave because they are not going to take any action. A useless, unengaged email address, while still a subscriber, does nothing to help your business grow.

Simple takeaway, post better content less frequently to keep subscribers happy and engaged with your brand. In the end, a smaller, more engaged list of active subscribers beats a bloated, unenthusiastic list of email addresses any day.

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