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Brian Grulke

Using Unsubscribe Feedback as an Improvement Tool
By Brian Grulke

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Whether you publish a sports ezine or a business management list, as a publisher and list owner you always have to deal with and manage the ever-present flow of people who unsubscribe from your list.

While list owners and publishers alike cherish each and every subscriber on his or her list, the inevitable "unsubscribe" will and does happen frequently. Consequently, list owners should always be aware of how they can best use their unsubscription information for the list's benefit, which I think can be easily overlooked sometimes. Using every bit of information and feedback concerning your list to further improve it can prove to be beneficial, not just for list owners but for current and future subscribers as well.

Here are some issues and proposed solutions/remedies that can help make better and more efficient use of the unsubscription feedback your list receives.

  • If your list receives a lot of feedback saying "too much email," perhaps people really don't have time to read your newsletter or list. Fine. Perhaps you could start a digest version of your list or even increase or decrease the frequency of it, obviously depending upon the feedback you receive.

  • If you as a list owner or newsletter publisher continue to receive unsubscription information saying your list has irrelevant content or is difficult for people to understand, you may want to alter the content of your ezine, making it more general or more specific in nature. Another alternative would be to create and introduce a new list for your subscribers so you can reasonably cover a wider range of what your readers are requesting.

  • One of the imperatives for your list is that you need to be as descriptive and accurate as possible in your initial list description so as to not confuse any of the readership. Unfortunately, "foggy" descriptions are oftentimes cause for a great deal of unsubscriptions down the road.

  • If you are receiving lots of unsubscribe feedback concerning people taking time off from the list, you may want to set it up where people who are leaving temporarily (vacation, etc.) can easily re-subscribe when they are ready to do so. It isn't difficult to re-subscribe, of course, but considering how busy many of your subscribers are, this is an alternative that allows you to retain far more of your readership.

Another example of using unsubscribe feedback for you and your list's advantage would be to analyze from which end of the, for lack of a better term, "unsubscribe spectrum" the feedback is coming from.

For example, let's say you publish a literary ezine containing various quotes or insights from a variety of authors. You have been receiving feedback that says your ezine is too conservative and the quotes are too rudimentary. You also are receiving feedback demonstrating the quotes and information are too difficult. This may simply mean that you are trading right down the middle and are presenting your ezine to the appropriate segment of your audience. In this case, unsubscribe feedback from your audience acts as a type of "radar" for your ezine and its content, something many list owners can use to gain new subscribers and retain the ones they have.

Unsubscribe feedback has and is always going to be a part of your publishing experience as a list owner. Use the unfortunate inevitability to your advantage.

Submitted by Brian Grulke, Former Associate Editor of List-Universe

Ezine-Tips for September 14, 2000

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