A few months ago, we moved our two year old son Jonathan from a crib to a bed. Unfortunately, having (literally) lowered the bar to his escape, we found that on certain nights, it was nearly impossible to keep him in his room.
Initially, I dealt with this situation by picking him up, carrying him back to his room screaming (him, not me) and staying with him until he got settled again. Not only was this process physically tiring, it sometimes took over an hour for the Jonathan bedtime parade to come to an end.
One night last week, I was feeling particularly tired, and rather than pick Jonathan up and carry him back, I simply told him that he should get back in bed, “whenever he was ready.” To my amazement, he took one more lap around the living room, and did exactly that.
It suddenly dawned on me that the reason for his nighttime wandering wasn’t exercise, it was control. It’s not that he didn’t want to go to bed, he just didn’t want me putting him there.
Believe it or not, this same concept comes into play in keeping your newsletter subscribers from unsubscribing. Like Jonathan, your readers want to be in control.
That’s why it’s essential that you include an “opt-out message” in every one of your newsletters.
An opt-out message is simply a line or two of text (usually put at the very end of the newsletter), that says something to the effect of, “You’re getting this because you requested it, you’re a customer, you’re a member of our organization (whatever), and if you don’t want to get it anymore, simply (insert instructions for how to get off the list).”
That’s all you need to do.
Taking the opposite approach of making it hard or inconvenient for readers to leave, in the hope that they’ll stick around longer, doesn’t help your cause, and sends the message that they are captive — whether you intend to suggest that or not. You will lose many more readers with this strategy, than by simply inviting them to go whenever they want.
Bottom Line: If your readers feel that your newsletter is something you do to them as opposed to something you give to them, your unsubscribe rate will go through the roof. The important thing here is to let the reader know that he/she is the one in control, not you.
Keep that in mind and we’ll all sleep a lot easier.