Email Marketing: How an opt-out strategy can increase engagement

Goodbye. It doesn’t seem like the best way to start a conversation. But if saying “goodbye” is not part of your content marketing program, it should be, writes Kath Walters.

Aaron Agius is the the founder of Louder Online, a content, search and social media agency. He says inviting your subscribers to sign-off if they are not opening your email newsletters and clicking through to your stories – and making it easy for them to do so – is a terrific brand-building strategy.

“A growing email list has to be the top asset to any online business, but only if it is done right and people are choosing to be there,” Agius says.

What’s the strategy?

Two strategies increase the chances of your audience engagement, Agius says. Firstly. using the “double opt-in” – which means that when someone signs up to your newsletter, they have to confirm their subscription in an email.

Secondly, it is good to have a clear, prominent, one-click unsubscribe option.

For truly savvy brands, a direct unsubscribe offer to recipients who don’t open your email ramps up engagement big time.

How does opt-out increase engagement?

When I signed up to receive a newsletter from behavioural economist Bri Williams, I was excited (she writes great blogs). I sailed past the double opt-in barrier – engagement 101.

When the email turned up I was busy, so I did what I normally do – put it in my “read later” box. Before long, I got an email from Bri noting that I hadn’t opened her email, and adding something like:

“We’d love you to stay, but we don’t want to spam you, so if our newsletter is not for you, we understand if you unsubscribe.” She was warm, friendly and firm.

I never file Bri’s newsletter these days; I don’t want her to sack me from her list! I might not read it straight away, but before long I take a quick look and suddenly she’s got me reading her fabulous topics and enjoying her friendly and engaging style.

It might sound like Bri’s manipulating me, but she’s not. Opt-out puts pressure on her too. She has to work hard to keep my attention once I have opened her email. If she didn’t deliver with an excellent blog every fortnight, it wouldn’t work after the first week. All Bri’s done is help me to act in my own interest.

But my subscribers will leave me…

If you invite subscribers to opt out and they do, it’s a litmus test. Is your blog timely, relevant and trusted (sticky)? Is it something your subscribers look forward to reading, despite all the pressures of time? It’s an instant diagnosis of the health of your content marketing programs. Agius says: “One of the biggest factors we look into is your unsubscribe rate”.

Keep them reading. Make it quality.

Agius is clear about what constitutes quality content: “It’s identifying what people are actually looking for online and creating content around that. Rather than writing about what is interesting, find out what questions people are asking, and what problems they need solved.”


Kath Walters is a journalist, editor and blog doctor. View her website here

To connect with Kath Walters on Twitter click here.