A Great New Way to Engage with Your List

If you haven’t heard yet, Google has expanded it’s efforts to help you overcome email overwhelm — they’ve broadened the addition of an “Unsubscribe” link in their emails.  If you haven’t seen it yet (and it hasn’t seemed to hit my inbox yet) it looks something like this —


The idea is to make it more obvious and easy to unsubscribe.  I’ve actually seen this before (they first launched it in 2009) but in the past week, they’ve expanded its use.  Although I’ve not seen it myself, I wish it was working when I got THIS email:

ancestry topancestry bottom


What you see here is an email from ancestry.com.  I did register when my son was doing a project – but I’m really not interested in receiving emails from them anymore.  So I looked at the top of the email for the PROMISE of the Google Unsubscribe — didn’t find it.  Then I looked at the bottom of the email for the unsubscribe link — didn’t find that either.  I made the attempt to login and change my preferences — and this was going to take me a solid 10 minutes (I swear)!  Then I got pissed.

The whole idea is to make it easy for folks to leave your list — but for some reason, companies take this very personally.  I think that this is a mistake.  I don’t know about you, but I subscribe and unsubscribe from lists very frequently.  On again, off again and on again.  This is because sometimes I’m very interested in a topic and then the project ends or I no longer have an interest in this topic.  This is completely normal.

Your goals should be toward list engagement — and not size.  Again — this is truly one area where size doesn’t matter.  f course if you have a large and ENGAGED list — then this is true heaven for all marketers.  But absent of size, engagement is what you want.

Here are my tips to make sure that you have a relevant and engaged list:

  1. Don’t fear the unsubscribe reaper — The first step is one of mindset.  Don’t take unsubscribes personally – rejoice in them.  This means that this person isn’t going to engage with you at this time — so why bother having them on your list if receiving your emails is going to upset them.
  2. Make it easy for them to unsubscribe –– There are some companies that put the unsubscribe link right at the top — this makes it easy for you to unsubscribe when you want to.  Again — see #1.
  3. Engage with your list — Let me get a little more specific about this.  Engagement means to ask questions, get into conversations, and get your list to take some kind of action in your email.  One way to do that is to use QuestionPro’s polling or survey features in your emails.  You can add links or even embed a survey into your HTML newsletters.  The cool thing about this is that it also entices your list to come back and see the results and actually learn something.

The bottom line in your marketing and communications with your list is to stop treating them like a list and start treating your list as people.  You’ll find that your emails get opened and more people will engage with you because you provide valuable information.

Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers and the President of Third Force, a strategic marketing firm. She's the marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a frequent contributor to AMEX Open Forum.

Posted in Essay
4 comments on “A Great New Way to Engage with Your List
  1. Vincent Konkel says:

    I agree Ivana. When I was younger, it really didn’t bother me so much, but now that I’m starting to get a little older, I become livid at SPAM – especially SPAM that you can’t easily unsubscribe to. Reminds me of a phone message years ago that went viral of some dude screaming for 2 minutes straight, “TAKE ME OFF YOUR FREAKING EMAIL LIST!!!”

    • Ivana Taylor says:

      I think it’s interesting that you bring up being “a little older” — do you mean in age alone or in terms of having spent more time online?

      What do you think is different about the “younger” you and the “older” you when it comes to receiving, reading and managing email?

      • Vincent Konkel says:

        I think it’s more of an age thing. I used to get so excited that other people would send me emails, even if they were just offers – of course I was 12 with my first Hotmail account.

        The main difference now is my need for time. Being 25 with goals & aspirations, time is definitely against me, I just can’t waste it any of it going through my inbox all day!

      • Ivana Taylor says:

        Hey Vince — age certainly gives perspective. I just about fell off my chair when you said you’re 25 — makes me wonder what I’m supposed to think at 50! Ha ha ha. But seriously – you are correct, I agree with you except that my timeline was more like when I was 30 (that’s when I’d go bananas on hearing “you’ve got mail” I remember that little burst of excitement. And now when I see that I have a ton of emails – I just want to stick a fork in my eye.

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