5 Ways to Reduce Email Subscriber Churn

When it comes to email, your subscriber churn rate is the percentage of your list that unsubscribes from your communication in a given length of time. Typically, a lower churn rate means that subscribers find enough value in your content to remain subscribed, so a minimal churn rate can be an indicator of a healthy email program.

Of course, some churn is inevitable. Subscribers’ interests will change. Certain email newsletters will become less relevant to readers’ lives. Or maybe they just decide they want to receive less email—and who can blame anyone for that?

Still, that doesn’t mean you have to sit idly by as your list churns. There are steps you can take at each part of the email relationship to help ensure you’re not leading your subscribers to an early exit. Here are five things you can do to reduce email subscriber churn.

1) Ensure your email capture copy aligns with what subscribers will receive.

Minimizing your subscriber churn can begin before a subscriber even signs up. It starts with your email capture forms.

The value proposition in your email capture copy and CTAs can play a role in growing your engaged audience, but misleading copy can lead your new subscribers to an early exit—and an increased subscriber churn rate.

Your email capture copy should tell visitors what they’re signing up to receive, as well as how often they can expect to receive it. By setting email expectations right away, you may avoid an early unsubscribe.

2) Engage new subscribers right away with a welcome email or series of onboarding emails.

The moment new subscribers first sign up for a newsletter marks a moment of high engagement with your content. After all, they’ve just told you they like your content so much that they want it delivered directly to their inbox.

You can capitalize on your new audience’s attention and kick off the email relationship on the right foot by sending an automated welcome email (or even a series of welcome emails). These emails may introduce new subscribers to certain sections of your site, point them towards the different types of content you have to offer, or show off your top evergreen content.

Sending your new subscribers quality content early in the relationship can help deepen engagement at this critical point in the relationship, getting subscribers in the habit of opening your email. Building reader habits can help prolong the reader’s engagement—and prevent them from unsubscribing.

3) Nudge lapsed subscribers with re-engagement emails before they disengage completely.

Emailing people who don’t open your emails can negatively impact your inbox placement, but just because a subscriber has gone dark doesn’t mean you have to purge them from your list just yet. There’s still a chance to get them back in the habit of engaging before they decide to unsubscribe from your email while they’re cleaning out their inbox.

That’s why it’s critical to have a plan for email re-engagement. Rather than sending a blanket re-engagement email to an entire disengaged segment, try setting up an automated program that automatically runs when a subscriber hasn’t engaged in a set amount of time. That way, you can catch individual subscribers at the moment they’re most likely to re-engage, and you don’t email those who have been disengaged too long to come back around.

So just how should you go about re-engaging your email subscribers? You can try a number of things, or even deploy all of these in a series:

  • Opt them down into a lower frequency, making sure to let them know you’re sending less email.
  • Send a standalone email that invites them to see what they’ve missed since they last engaged.
  • If you have products for sale, offer a discount to bring them back to your site.
  • If your other efforts don’t wake up subscribers, send a “final notice” that informs them they’ll be unsubscribed if they don’t click through.

4) Use preference centers to hold onto potential unsubscribers.

Email preference centers allow subscribers to choose which email they receive and how often they receive it. They’re good for your subscribers, and they’re good for you too: providing your potential unsubscribers with additional email options may prevent them from opting out of your email entirely.

Be sure to link to your preference center in each email. That way, you can offer any dissatisfied subscribers the option of receiving email content they may like better. Perhaps you have another newsletter better aligned with their interests. Or maybe your subscribers are unhappy with the amount of email they receive; allowing your fatigued readers to opt down into a weekly or monthly cadence may keep them from unsubscribing.

5) Use data from your unsubscribed readers to assess where you can improve.

A lost subscriber doesn’t have to mean a lost opportunity. Even if a reader does unsubscribe from your emails, you can use the subscriber journey to improve your email program and reduce churn for future subscribers.

If a particular email earned an abnormally high unsubscribe rate, take a look to see what went wrong. Was the content out of sync with your audience? Did the subject line put people off? A misfired email campaign can give you clues on what to avoid in the future.

Or maybe your content isn’t entirely the culprit. For instance, one of your sources of new subscribers could be converting a disproportionate number of high-churn subscribers. A cohort analysis of your email list can show you where these low-performing subscribers originate. If, say, your paid social efforts are leading to new newsletter subscribers who don’t stick around very long, you may want to focus your acquisition efforts elsewhere.

Email unsubscribes are a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mitigate them. Ultimately, by connecting your subscribers with the right content at each step of the relationship, you can build reader habits and foster lasting connections with your email audience.



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