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10 Ways to Reduce Churn with Email Campaigns

SHAMITA JAYAKUMAR - OCT 25, 2016

Email marketing is a lot like dating. You send emails to build a relationship, and hopefully, take things to the next level where the subscriber decides to make a purchase.

But the truth is, not every contact is interested what you have to offer. On average, about 25% of your contacts will churn, or leave your list, each year.

There are actually two kinds of churn. Those that come out and say, “I think we should break up” and hit the unsubscribe button, and those that don’t call anymore becoming inactive subscribers.

How do you keep these relationship crushers from affecting your bottom line? You have to turn on the charm. Here are ten ways to reduce churn with email campaigns:

1. Use double opt-in

Right from the start, you should make sure that a contact wants to be in an email relationship with you. To do so, set up a double opt-in process. When a contact signs up, send them an email to confirm they’re interested.

Not all marketers opt for double opt-in. Only 39% of marketers use a double opt-in process, according to MarketingSherpa. Some marketers believe that the additional confirmation email is just another hurdle that keeps a subscriber from becoming a customer.

But making a subscriber think twice about signing up can be a good thing. It’s more important to have a list of truly interested subscribers than it is to have a huge list of half-hearted subscribers.

Here’s an example of a confirmation email that UNICEF NZ created for its audience:

2. Send a welcome email

Once subscribers have confirmed their interest in your email list, you should welcome them to engage them from the get-go.

Rather than touting your products right out of the gate, use your welcome email to highlight the benefits of receiving your emails.

How does this reduce churn? Some customers that sign up for your list might be on the fence about your product or brand. By showcasing the benefits, you provide a level of reassurance. You’re bringing them one step closer to your sales funnel.

Here’s a great example of a welcome email from Converse. Notice the bulleted list that describes not only the benefits of the email list but also what subscribers can expect in terms of content.

3. Educate subscribers

One of the best ways to reduce email churn is to continually educate subscribers about your brand, product, service, or non-profit.

To build a relationship, you have to get to know one another. On a date, you ask questions and have conversations to find things you have in common with one another, right?

The email version of this is to send educational emails. Newsletters are a great way to accomplish this, or you can start educating subscribers soon after they sign up, like American Red Cross, does with this email:

 

4. Keep ‘em happy with great deals

The main reason people chose to join a list is for great deals or special offers, according to GetApp, so don’t disappoint. Send emails that offer promotional gifts, discount codes, or coupons.

Rather than sending coupons to everyone on your list, consider segmenting your list and tailoring the sale to fit a specific audience. For instance, offer 15% off to your VIP customers, or free shipping on a future purchase to customers that recently bought an item from you.

Here’s a great deal sent by Sephora:

5. Find out why subscribers are leaving

If you don’t know why subscribers are leaving, you won’t be able to reduce email churn. To figure out why subscribers are saying, “Adios,” consider sending a survey to get some answers. Try using a survey tool like GetFeedback to create and send a simple survey.

You can use the feedback to make changes and keep subscribers from bailing on you.

Of course, you don’t have to wait for an unsettling churn rate to ask for customer feedback. In fact, it’s a good idea to collect feedback several times a year to stay on top of what your subscribers want.

Apartment Therapy sent this survey for that very purpose:

6. Provide what’s missing

During the course of collecting feedback, you might find that customers are leaving because you don’t offer a feature they’re looking for, a service they want, the right amount of post-purchase product support, or competitive pricing.

Whatever the problem is, work to solve it. Once you’ve made changes, announce it to your entire audience via email.

Here’s a great example from Niice that highlights a new feature they’re offering. Notice the email references that subscribers inspired the change.

7. Win back subscribers that have one foot out the door

Consider creating a re-engagement campaign to catch subscribers before they leave. The tricky part is figuring out when a subscriber is teetering at this point. It all depends on your sales cycle, but when your emails start to go unread for 4-6 weeks, it’s time to reach out.

Research from MarketingSherpa shows that just 15% of marketers actually send “win-back” emails, but they can be successful at bringing customers back.

You might send subscribers a discount to entice them to make a purchase or provide a link to get them interested in your product or service again. You can use marketing automation to make this a cinch and trigger your re-engagement emails based on opening or clicking links in your emails.

St. Jude Children’s Hospital sends their past patrons a re-engagement email reminding them to give again.

8. Create a preference center

What causes the majority of subscribers to opt out? Sixty-nine percent of subscribers leave a list because they receive too many emails, according to a report from Chadwick Martin Bailey.

In addition to email frequency, many subscribers jump ship because the content they receive isn’t relevant.

You can solve both of these problems by setting up an email preference center. By allowing subscribers to choose how frequently they receive your emails and select what kind of content they want, you can decrease your churn rate.

Once you have the preference center set up, encourage subscribers to use it by sending an email like this one from publisher Penguin Random House:

9. Offer a list of tailored products

Subscribers won’t leave your list if they receive messages that resonate with them. That’s why it’s important to collect customer data, segment your lists, and tailor content directly to each niche.

Converse does a great job with this. The email below was sent to a subscriber that recently purchased a pair of water resistant shoes from the online store. Based on the past purchase, Converse sent the subscriber this specific email that offers more rain gear.

10. Say thanks

You can’t think of your subscribers as line items on a spreadsheet – they’re human. To show that you value more than a subscriber’s average revenue contribution, create email campaigns that show your appreciation. After all, it’s customers that keep your business running.

One of the best ways to show your human side is to say thanks. Thank customers for helping you reach a goal or just for being loyal customers.

Here’s a great example of a thank you email from the Academy of American Poets:

Wrap up

Email churn isn’t something to ignore. If subscribers are leaving your list, it could signal a problem with your email relationships. Think of the ten tips above as email therapy that will help you sustain a healthy email relationship with your subscribers, and keep them from hitting the unsubscribe button.

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