What Makes People Open and Subscribe to Emails

Discounts and special offers still draw them in

Why do consumers subscribe to emails from a business or nonprofit? eMarketer reported yesterday on a new survey by the firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) called “10 Facts About Why and How Consumers ‘Like’ and Subscribe.” It is B2C, but there still can be lessons learned for all of us. Here are 10 interesting takeouts:

1. The top reason listed by respondents for subscribing to emails from businesses is “to receive discounts and special offers” (58%). That’s followed by “to take part in a specific promotion” (39%), “I am a customer supporter of the business/nonprofit” (37%), to gain access to exclusive content (26%)—I just did that to read these results—“the desire to stay informed on an ongoing basis” (26%) and “want to support a business/nonprofit I like” (25%).

2. The top reason for unsubscribing to an email list is too many emails from that business (69%) followed by “the content is no longer relevant—the event has passed” (56%), the “content wasn’t what I expected” (51%), “I am no longer a customer/supporter of the business” (48%) and “I had a bad experience” (42%).

3. 64% of the respondents list “the organization it is from” as a reason that they open email; 47% say the subject line (so my daily subject-line angst is justified); and 26% say the offer.

4. The strongest reason for people not opening an email is “not interested” (64%)with “get too many emails from an organization” next at 45%, followed by get too many emails in general (32%), too busy (29%), not in the mood (26%) and don’t remember signing up (26%).

5. So people are becoming uninterested when either they get too many emails or something they were interested in—say your webinar or annual event—is over. The trick then would be to keep them engaged after the event, always being mindful of the number of emails you send. (See number 9.)

6. The survey then heads into Facebook. We’ve talked about the variables of social media, but here it is somewhat similar. 41% “like” a business to receive discounts and special offers. Taking part in a promotion is next at 28%, and being a customer/supporter follows at 27%. Showing others that you support this business is only 22%. That’s interesting because Facebook is set up for that purpose and seems to be going even further in that direction. (What are my “friends” watching now? Where are they eating?)

7. In that same vein, eMarketer cites another study that differs a little bit, emphasizing that recommendations are on people’s minds. “A 2011 study from 8thBridge found that consumers most often ‘like’ a retailer on Facebook because they purchased a product and liked it; they then used Facebook to provide a straightforward recommendation for friends to see.”

8. CMB adds this fact: “66% of people under 30 use their smartphones or cell phones to access their email.” So how do your emails look and download on smartphones? This is a crucial question if you are after a bigger audience.

9. The question of whether you are sending out too many emails is a tough one. You read this survey and start to hit that wait button. But then yesterday I referred to highly respected marketer (and SIPA 2012 keynoter) Amy Africa who pleads not to listen to this once-a-week thing. “Internet marketing is a numbers game. Get your ego out of the equation and do what’s right for your business.” I like Bob Bly’s equation which we published in a “Last Words” column in December’s Hotline. He goes by opt-out rates—0.1% or less no problem; 0.2% to 0.4% time to look things over.

10. I don’t know how many SIPA companies are able to take advantage of their “localness.” But the CMB survey adds that “about a quarter of consumers prefer to opt-in to local businesses over national businesses via email and Facebook.” The facts do speak for themselves here: people like to support local businesses. This is definitely something to play up in your local marketing.


Speaking of taking advantage of local,
chapter meetings are a huge part of SIPA.

Check out these upcoming events, and if
you don’t see one in your area, let us know
and maybe we can start something (or at least
set up a “local” meeting for you at SIPA 2012).

April 11
Toronto Publishers Dinner

April 17
Advanced Copywriting Techniques for Profitable
Email Publishing & Marketing

May 1
New England Chapter
Making Mobile Work for You

May 9
Washington D.C. Publishers Dinner

May 16

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