Asking you to UNSUBSCRIBE

1. Why ask?

As my email list has rapidly grown to over 1000 subscribers, I am working on keeping the list clean, engaged and full of subscribers that are actually getting value from the stuff I put out. The goal of the list is to help developers – pure and simple – however, the fact of the matter is that the stuff I send out is not for everyone – nor do I intend it to be. A big part of that is segmentation – sending the content only to the subscribers who is genuinely interested in that content – and part is setting expectations – being more explicit about why someone should take the time to be on the list in the first place. With all of that in mind, I am putting into practice a simple idea – with the goal of keeping my list clean and providing people that may not be getting the value they should from it – with a WAY OFF – you guessed it:

I am asking people to unsubscribe from my list!

2. Who to ask?

Let me be clear – asking someone to unsubscribe from your email list is not an email you want to send to your engaged subscribers. These are the readers that are actually reading your content regularly, replying to your emails and generally getting some level of value from the stuff you send them. What you want to do – and what I did in both instances I sent out this email – was to identify a segment of the list that is not engaging with your content. Since I am using Mailchimp – I did this by creating a low engagement segment of:

  • readers who have under 3 stars (which – in Mailchimp – represents the level of engagement with your content – meaning opens and clicks)
  • readers who have been on the list for at least one month

This represents about 250 subscribers – so about 25% of my list.

3. How to ask?

Let’s not look at how exactly to ask readers to unsubscribe – this can be a tricky proposition – you don’t want to be vague and undecided, but you don’t want to be to forceful either. What I did was I crafter two emails – one with softer language and another that used some harder language to get the point across. Email 1: subject = “Please unsubscribe!”

Do You Find My Articles Useful?

Don’t worry if you don’t – I’m writing to let you know is perfectly fine to unsubscribe (see the BIG LINK below)

As you may already know, I’m sending you programming tutorials – once or twice a week. I am mainly writing about Java, Spring, Security and REST, and general web development. If that’s not your cup of team – I understand. So I just want to let you know it’s okay to unsubscribe. If you’re having trouble keeping up with my emails, or you’re just sick of getting them, I’d actually prefer you to unsubscribe — which you can do simply by clicking here:

The Big Unsubscribe Here Link!

P.S. If you’d rather continue to get my articles – you can check out my more recent one – the Big Kahuna of Java 8 Resources (I like to call it that). I am going to continue writing about these topics in 2014 – if you want to make a suggestion about how to improve my content, go ahead and reply to this email. Cheers, Eugen.

As you can see – the language of this first email is softer – while still having the clear purpose of providing readers with an easy one-client way to unsubscribe from my email list. Email 2: subject = “Yes, I’m really asking you to UNSUBSCRIBE!”

Do You Find My Articles Useful – if not you should probably UNSUBSCRIBE!

If you’re like me, and you get to many emails you don’t really care about, then you’ll find this email usefull. YES I’M REALLY ASKING YOU TO UNSUBSCRIBE!

As you may already know, I’m sending you programming tutorials – about twice a week. I am mainly writing about Java, Spring, Security and REST, and general web development. If that’s not your cup of team – I fully understand. So I just want to let you know it’s perfectly OK to unsubscribe. If you’re having trouble keeping up with my emails, or you’re just sick of getting them, I’d actually prefer you to unsubscribe — which you can do simply by clicking here:

The Big Unsubscribe Here Link!

P.S. If you’d rather continue to get my articles – you can check out my more recent one – the Big Kahuna of Java 8 Resources (I like to call it that). I am going to continue writing about these topics in 2014 – if you want to make a suggestion about how to improve my content, go ahead and reply to this email. Cheers, Eugen.

This second email, sent about 2 weeks after the first to the same segment of unengaged readers – is more forceful, and follows the same goal as the first email – getting people who are not interested in my list off of it.

4. Results – Conclusion

Keep in mind that I sent these emails to a targeted segment of unengaged subscribers – who have not opened or clicked through my emails, and who weren’t getting real value out of my content. However, with that in mind – the results were not surprising – the open rates were low for these emails, just as for the rest. First Email:

  • open rate: 12.8%
  • unsubscribes: 1

Second Email:

  • open rate: 12.0%
  • unsubscribers: 3

So – the results are not encouraging, but I am not giving up. In the next “Please Unsubscribe” email I will send, I will ask for feedback about what kind of content they would like to receive. On the upside, I did receive some personal (and positive) replies to these emails from readers who don’t want to unsubscribe from the list.

  • Tomas

    One thing you have to be aware of is that Mailchimp will not track opens when the user doesn’t click “show images” in most mailclients. So some users could have a low engagement-score while they’re actually reading your content.

    • http://www.baeldung.com/ Eugen Paraschiv

      Yes, that may be happening. What I did to try have readers accept images was use a large image with an alt tag on it – which was part of the narrative. When blocking images – the alt text would show – talking about the image, but not the image itself of course, which would encourage the reader to accept images from me.