Your Reader’s Experience

“…at some point along the way, gathering and managing their subscribers’ info became more important than their subscribers’ experience.”

I made that statement a year ago in response to an article that Danielle wrote explaining her troubles when trying to unsubscribe from Air Canada’s newsletter. Don’t let this happen to you.

While your newsletter is your marketing tool, your readers don’t care about that. They don’t care about your processes. They don’t care how much work goes into your newsletter. And they don’t care how successful it is. They only care about the value you’re providing… if you’re lucky enough to get their attention.

“Build it and they will come.” Don’t hold your breath while waiting.

Put yourself in your potential subscriber’s shoes. How often do you sign up for newsletters? What triggers you to do that? How do you feel when you’re expected to do extra work? Do you give up?

Getting new subscribers is hard work. Getting them to consider subscribing is one thing. Getting them to your sign-up form is another. And getting them to complete the process is yet another. If you’re fortunate enough to get someone to your sign-up form, that is not the time to baffle them with your ingenuity. The only information you need in order to send someone a newsletter is their email address. ANY other information you request is for your benefit, not theirs.

Our own newsletter sign-up has a field asking subscribers to select their location from a drop-down list. It’s a recent addition and done completely for our benefit so we can send out event announcements specific to Nova Scotia or Saskatchewan. We don’t want to bother someone in Winnipeg with a free lunch and learn in Halifax. But that’s all about our needs because we are the ones choosing to send the announcement. While it’s an optional field, it still mucks up a smooth subscription process just a little. The work involved to add it was minimal. The determination to do it took a long time and the decision wasn’t made lightly.

Likewise, a double opt-in process is for your benefit too, not your subscriber’s. Don’t expect people to click and type multiple times. Don’t expect them to hunt through their inbox for an automated email so they can click and confirm yet again. And, if you do go with double opt-in, don’t expect any more than 40% of subscribers to actually complete that last step. (Yes, the experts have lots of reasons for telling us to use a double opt-in process but I’ll be happy to debate any of those over coffee!)

Auto-responder emails confirming subscription are also a no-no. Don’t send an email thanking people for signing up if that’s all you have to say. You’ve got them already. Don’t ruin it. Just give them what they signed up for.

Respect their inbox. (As an alternative, we recommend the use of a redirect page.) I’ve actually unsubscribed from newsletters after just signing up when I received auto-responders full of promotional text.

To keep your subscribers engaged, listen to feedback, watch your stats, and pay attention to what they’re interested in. Put your time and attention to making that the best experience possible. Your subscribe (and unsubscribe) process should be a ‘nothing’ experience in comparison.