Losing Subscribers? 3 Ways to Keep Them From Leaving!

If you have people unsubscribing from your list at about

subscriber management

If you have people unsubscribing from your list at about the same speed you’re getting new ones, then your list isn’t going to grow. Fortunately, there are things you can do to fix that.

After I worked with customers to optimize their email campaigns, I was able to put together a list of effective email marketing tactics. I’ve already shared tips for getting more subscribers, but that was only the beginning. Now the focus turns to keeping those subscribers on your list.

In the hundreds of campaigns I’ve looked at, I’ve found three strategies that will help keep subscribers on your mailing list.

Set Expectations

We’ve stressed the importance of setting subscriber expectations plenty of times before and there is a reason why- it works. I noticed campaigns with high subscriber retention all explain what the subscriber will be getting right from the start. When subscribers understand what’s going on, they are less likely to unsubscribe or complain.

Here’s how you can set expectations:

  • Start with your web form

    The web form is where the sign up process begins, so you need to do a good job explaining what the potential subscriber will get for entering their information.Check your form and make sure it lets subscribers know what they’re signing up for. You want to detail what you’ll be sending them and how often they can expect to receive messages from you.
  • Have subscribers confirm

    The confirmation message is sent immediately after the subscriber submits their information. You can customize the confirmation message so the subscriber knows what’s going on, and what to do next.A previous blog post included examples of effective confirmation messages, so you can take a look at those before you start your own.
  • Welcome new subscribersAfter subscribers have signed up and confirmed, it’s time to welcome and remind them what they signed up for.The welcome message should reiterate what you’ll be sending them, how often they’ll be receiving messages and what they can do if they ever want to stop getting your messages.
  • Assess and re-assess your campaignAfter you have set expectations you need to periodically assess your campaign to make sure you are following the guidelines you’ve set.For example, if you said you’d be sending twice a week, make sure that’s what you’re doing.

As long as you stick to the expectations you set, you shouldn’t have any subscribers leaving your list due to misunderstanding. However, there are still a couple other things you can do to increase retention.

Create Brand Loyalty

When people begin to associate your brand with positive things, they’ll stick to you.

Everything that comes in contact with your subscribers should have your brand represented. Subject lines can be branded by including your company name in them, and messages can be branded by putting your logo at the top like this example:

keep subscribers

Keep in mind that whenever you interact with subscribers and customers, you’ll be creating opinions about your brand. Zappos, for example, has successfully associated their brand with superior customer service. Same goes for AWeber. 🙂

Pay Attention to Subscriber Behavior

If someone purchases something from you, they are more likely to purchase from you again.

Keeping this is mind, AWeber allows you to track who’s opening messages and who’s clicking on links.

Setting up analytics will take this one step further. You’ll be able to track sales, clicks through your site even if that URL wasn’t specifically in your message and downloads.

Tracking subscriber activity allows you to use their information to send more personalized messages by sending to segments. Sending messages that are more personalized will help encourage subscribers to remain on your list.

You might also want to consider setting up subscriber preferences right at sign up.

IKEA is a good example of this:

subscriber preferences

Giving subscribers the option to enter more detailed information about who they are and what they’re looking for will allow you to create messages relevant to what they need.

If you want to learn subscriber preferences right away, you can set up custom fields in your web form and use that information for segmenting, or even to place the subscriber in the appropriate list.

You’re on Your Way!

Using these tips to keep subscribers on your list along with the tips to get more subscribers, will help make your list grow faster. There’s more to come though, so be on the lookout for the next optimization post that will have tips on how to improve your messages.

Fill out the form below to join our blog newsletter and you’ll get the next optimization post right in your inbox.

We’ll also periodically send you the other email marketing tips we publish here. The blog newsletter goes out 2 times per week.


  1. Vince Trenna

    7/8/2011 12:44 am

    Everyone hates spam and most people have spam blocked. It is best to personalize your campaign emails so the spam blockers can’t detect the emails. Also best not to send out newletters to frequently.

  2. Partha Bhattacharya

    7/8/2011 7:41 am

    Informative article, Crystal! My only complain is that all your examples are big companies who have resources to test and retest various alternatives. For small companies with small resources the best step would be to plan beforehand what to keep the subscribers engaged with week after week. In my experience, failure to keep subscribers adequately engaged is the biggest reason of their leaving.

    Please give examples of how small companies can keep their subscribers engaged with little efforts and resources.

  3. kathrine bocsh

    7/8/2011 12:36 pm

    crystal you have shared very great ideas , thanks for it

  4. johannes Bergstrom

    7/11/2011 6:01 am

    I totally agree with crystal, we had a lot of testing until we finally got it right. Put your brand everywhere.. like now 🙂

  5. Design Your Emails To Get More Responses

    7/22/2011 8:10 am

    […] talked about tactics to get more subscribers, keep subscribers on your list, and improve […]