[How To] Lower Your Unsubscribe Rate

Learn how to avoid low opens and high unsubscribes in your email or text campaigns, turning past failures into future successes with smart strategies.

Mathew Gorka

By Mathew Gorka

May 2, 2023

9 min read

[How To] Lower Your Unsubscribe Rate

Lowering your unsubscribe rate for SMS marketing is easier than you think, but a little counterintuitive. Think of it this way: the same principles that lower your unsubscribe rate will also boost your engagement and retention. At Helios we’re all about efficiency! So let’s kill two birds with one stone, without harming any animals of course.

SMS marketing is just industry jargon for text messaging for business. Like most things in marketing, it can seem daunting when first getting started. We’ve all had campaigns that fell flat. We’ve all begrudgingly taken the ‘walk of shame’ to Google why our email or text campaign got 0 opens or a high unsubscribe rate. The fact is that these travesties are preventable with a little due diligence. Ditch the self-proclaimed Youtube gurus or underperforming Fiverr help. You got this!

The Best Ways to Lower Your Unsubscribe Rate

Provide immediate value

The first simple way to lower the unsubscribe rate of your SMS marketing campaign is by providing immediate value. At Helios we use the term ‘provide immediate value’ a lot, and we hope you feel that way about our products. Nonetheless, in this instance, we are talking strictly dollars and cents. Start by offering your subscribers one of your best discounts. Don’t hold back. They offered you their loyalty, some of their personal information, and in exchange they don’t want a bunch of messages about how great you are. BOGOs, or, buy-one-get-one free/at a discount is a great place to start. You can also consider your largest percent discount, or even cash back. Discount codes are great because they expire. So, after offering a tasty discount, you can follow up with a message the next day reminding that subscriber to use that discount before it’s too late. This creates value and urgency.

Offer specialized packages and exclusive deals

Another way to lower your unsubscribe rate is to offer a custom or specialized package. This may seem like a lot of work at first but it's not so bad if you’re creative. You don’t need to make new products. Packaging existing products in ways that aren’t ordinarily offered is an option. This can be hard goods or services. Hard goods companies will do things like unique packaging. For services, like fitness studios, consider bundling items or classes. For example, you could include a protein shake with each trainer session, or, bundle one on one trainer sessions with membership. The key is to make sure the package is unique to your subscribers so that they are getting access to experiences and opportunities that non-subscribers are not.

Consider exclusive updates, product drops, and release information

Are you releasing a new product or service? Maybe your fitness studio is expanding and adding a boxing section and trainer. If you’re getting new equipment, or expanding your service offerings, make your subscribers the first to know. By fostering a sense of priority you will add importance to being a subscriber. Aside from giving the drop on changes, consider giving your subscribers early access. For example, the first week or first session of the new classes could be available exclusively to your subscribers. This is a great way to drive value and engagement.

Next, consider being transparent about what a subscriber can expect. Explain how you plan to communicate to subscribers and how frequently. There is a stigma in marketing that telling your customers what to expect will scare them off. Companies would rather set up a large blast or flow of messages and hope for the best. If you want to lower your unsubscribe rate it’s best to be upfront. Expectation setting is key when engaging in SMS marketing. Sending a message that explains your cadence, what you’re offering, and the goals of your subscriber list are an easy way to clear the air and get your campaigns off on the right foot.

The key to great SMS strategy: lead with your brand

Another option to lowering your unsubscribe rate is to lead with branding. You’re proud of your brand and you should show it. Subscribers should drive brand loyalty. Share your brand voice with them. This is a particularly good alternative because it doesn't require any bundling or discounting. Especially if you’re going for a premium, bespoke, or niche market, leading with brand identity is a great start. Have a welcome message from your founder. You could also briefly describe the origins of your brand or the problem you seek to solve. If your company is involved in philanthropy, this is a great place to share it and connect with your audience. These messages make your audience feel like they’re part of the team and along for the ride in your brand mission. Leading with your value proposition also promotes your brand in an authentic way.

Engage with your audience's questions and comments

The best SMS marketing traffic is two-way traffic. Getting the word out on offers and updates is crucial, but make sure you're prepared to handle inbound messages as well. Also, don't be afraid to be the one to ask the question. Meaningful engagement with your audience involves some back-and-forth.

No one wants to be talked at. Questions also give you key insights to what your audience desires. You could ask them, “What do you want to learn more about?” or “What interests you about our brand?” This helps you serve relevant content while you get to know your audience better. Segmenting your audience based on their responses can help with personalization. The feedback you gather can help drive your campaigns and brand voice. This is truly a win-win.

Segmentation is crucial to lowering unsubscribes

Segmenting your audience, as mentioned above, is a great way to lower your unsubscribe rate. Segmentation drives personalization, which helps your brand connect with its audience. Highly targeted campaigns have a proven history of higher engagement via open rate and click through rate and have a lower unsubscribe rate. Segmentation can be based on anything. Don’t know where to start? You can segment based on many things, but we suggest starting with demographics and prior activity/behavior. Your male audience may have different desires than your female audience. Older members may expect different products or services than your younger segment. Those are demographic based. For behavioral segmentation you could separate new subscribers from your oldest loyalists, or people that have transacted with you recently vs. others who have not been active with your brand in a while.

Technical Tactics to Lower Your Unsubscribe Rate

From a technical standpoint, lowering your unsubscribe rate can be achieved by requiring a double opt-in, which is highly recommended. Double opt-ins ensure that subscribers have signed up with intent. Intent is critical and helps keep your company TCPA compliant. You want to avoid vanity sign ups, or essentially tricking people into subscribing. If your audience does not want to be there, or you do not deliver on your promises, you can be sure that you will see a spike in unsubscribes.

While on the topic of technical enhancements, we always suggest A/B testing. Change your headline. Pay attention to which point in the day/week/month earns the highest engagement. Also, test your cadence. Do you send your messages daily, or weekly, or do you send them at random? Different audiences prefer different levels of communication. Do your messages include images, videos, emojis, or other graphics (MMS)? Also pay attention to the length of your message. Longer messages cost your company more, both in terms of time to build and segment cost. Shorter, more concise messages may improve your engagement metrics, while lowering your unsubscribe rate.

Lowering your unsubscribe rate is a science, but it’s not difficult. It takes time, patience, testing, and empathy. We’ve all been marketed to. You know what it’s like to feel spammed, talked at, and disregarded. You remember receiving a text or email and thinking you didn’t remember signing up for that message. Take all of your learnings and use them, but chief among them should be the feedback your audience is giving you. Their feedback is both direct (replying to a survey or giving feedback) and indirect (opening, click-through, etc.). We’re sure that following the guidelines above will lower your unsubscribe rate and get your campaign buzzing. Good luck!

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