05/25/2016 05:36 EDT | Updated 05/26/2017 05:12 EDT

10 Ways To Reduce Newsletter Unsubscribe Rates

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Most expert marketers agree that virtually every website should publish a newsletter (eZine). There is still no better way to engage consumers, increase sales and keep visitors coming back for more.

We often focus on adding more subscribers to our mailing list, which is certainly important. Just as critical, however, is hanging onto those subscribers. Following are 10 ways you can reduce newsletter unsubscribe rates and ensure list growth.

1. Write for Your Subscribers, Not Yourself

Include helpful information, as opposed to thinly disguised marketing copy. It's OK to sell, as long as you offer a publication that is of some benefit to the subscriber. The most effective way to make sales through any content is by allowing subscribers to naturally discover your products and services as something of value. Don't tell them how awesome you are, ensure they conclude that on their own. If you're selling products for affiliates, take pride in recommending only the very best products and services.

2. Be Mobile Friendly

Mobile device usage has exploded in Canada in recent years. Many of your readers will try to view your emails on their smartphone or tablet.

"While just over half of Canadians are accessing the Internet across platforms, the scales have already tipped in favour of mobile when looking at time spent online," Comscore reported in October, 2015. "Fully 56% of time Canadians spend online is spent on a smartphone or tablet."

A 2015 BlueHornet Consumer Views of Email Marketing report indicates that 42.3% of consumers will delete emails that don't display properly on their mobile device and 4.2% will unsubscribe. Most email marketing platforms have integrated mobile options and templates to make it easier for you. If you can't be mobile friendly, at least offer a text subscription option so you're not forcing HTML onto mobile subscribers.

Remember, too, that "mobile friendly" goes well beyond display. Larger fonts, well-spaced links and large call-to-action graphics will also prevent reader frustration.

3. Display Option

Mobile compliance isn't the only cause of display problems. Email software can also turn your beautiful newsletter into a big mess. In each issue, include a link to an online copy of your newsletter for readers to click if the email isn't displaying properly.

4. Readability

Opt for an attractive, functional design that's easy to read. Use clear, dark fonts on a light background so it doesn't strain the reader's eyes. Short paragraphs, selective bolding or coloured headers, bullet points, white space, and background colour blocking will retain the reader's attention and ensure they read the entire newsletter. Use a reputable do-it-yourself newsletter software, or have your newsletter template designed by a professional.

5. Frequency 2016-05-25-1464198070-9597110-Canadian_Newsletter_EzineM.jpg

Don't harass subscribers with too many emails. Too many marketing emails are the equivalent of an annoying sales clerk who won't leave you alone in a store.

6. Discounts and Coupons

Virtually every statistical report ranks discounts and coupons as a primary reason people subscribe to newsletters. Offering subscriber-only deals enhances that strategy and further ensures reader retention.

7. Contests and Freebies

Contests and freebies never decline in popularity. Subscribers don't want to miss winner announcements or the next freebie, so they stay on your mailing list. It's easier to be creative with this idea on business-to-consumer lists. It also works for business subscribers if you offer your own products and services, business books, industry reports and whitepapers. You can actively recruit newsletter sponsors that provide valuable content or prizes as well.

8. Remind Subscribers That You're Canadian

Patriotic loyalty will only get you so far, but with limited Canadian options it may encourage subscribers to keep you close at hand. Content with a Canadian slant can add significant value for subscribers in this country.

9. Offer Multiple Subscription Options

If it's feasible for your company, offer daily, weekly or monthly updates. You can also have more than one newsletter, each focusing on a different topic or multiple languages. Remind your readers of these options in each issue and include an "update subscription options" link.

10. Use Your Data

It can be tough to predict how subscribers will react to your newsletter content. If you make changes one at a time, your unsubscribe rate can bring the message through loud and clear. Many newsletter platforms offer split testing, allowing you to compare subscriber response to different formats, headlines, length, subject lines, and any other variable. You can also gain insight from open rates and click rates. Additionally, much can be learned from your fellow email marketers through benchmark data.

How do you keep subscribers on your email list? Please share your experience or questions with us.

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