It’s Monday morning. You open up your email client to see how the metrics look for the newsletter you sent out on Friday. The open rate is good, as are the clickthroughs, but you see that 4 people “unsubscribed”. You pause for a moment, but then think, “Oh well” and exit out of the browser.
Whether you’re just getting started on building a following and every new follower is a major win, or you’ve got a robust list that you’re trying to maintain, no one likes to see a decline in their number of followers. And yet, follower attrition is a fact of life whether you’re talking about a newsletter or a social media channel.
How can you more actively prevent follower attrition, so that you can hang onto your hard-earned subscribers? Keep these 4 strategies in mind:

1. Identify if there’s a problem.

A list of followers is an organic thing and will always have some natural attrition due to customers changing interests and other similar factors. The key is to figure out if the level of attrition you’re experiencing is abnormal. Ask yourself:

  • Am I losing more subscribers than I’m gaining?
  • What does the long term subscriber trend look like?
  • Is the level of attrition decreasing or increasing overall?

2. Look for patterns in who leaves and why.

If you do notice an abnormal level of attrition, your next goal will be to identify why people are leaving. Doing this is just another version of a content audit—you’ll need to assemble data on how many people have unsubscribed and link it to the specific pieces of communication that caused them to do so.

  • Do some of your newsletters/posts have a higher level of attrition? Why?
  • Can you identify any shared characteristics of the people who unsubscribed?
  • Do higher level of attrition fall on particular days of the week, times of the month, or seasons of the year?

3. Ask those who unsubscribe for more information.

If a follower is about to unsubscribe, you might as well ask him or her for one last bit of valuable information before they go. Have you ever tried to unsubscribe from an email list and ended up on a page that asks you why you’re unsubscribing? Unsubscribers have clearly been driven to take action by something you did, and most of them are more than happy to communicate their feelings with you. Some potential options to provide in the dropdown would be:

  • I didn’t sign up for these emails
  • The content of these emails wasn’t relevant to me
  • The emails were too frequent
  • Other [text box]

4. Make adjustments and keep measuring.

Use the information you’ve learned from the three strategies above and make the necessary tweaks to your content to lower your attrition rate. Keep an eye on the numbers, and continue to test until you notice a difference. And remember, your existing subscribers are a great potential pool to get feedback from. Consider sending them a survey that asks things like:

  • Was this content relevant to you?
  • Why did you initially sign up for this newsletter?
  • What would you like to see more of?
  • What would you like to see less of?

We hope that utilizing these four strategies will make a positive impact on your subscriber list and stymie the flow of unsubscribers.
What’s your strategy for dealing with subscriber attrition? We want to know! Drop us a line on Facebook, or Tweet us.
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