June 15th, 2010 by Bob Bly
A recent article in DM News used the term ?mental opt-out? to describe someone who does not unsubscribe from a list but just stops reading or even opening the e-mails.
In surveying my list, I discovered a lot of mental opt-outs among my e-zine subscribers: they hadn?t unsubscribed yet but they no longer read the messages.
Although mental opt-out isn?t included in the figures when you measure opt-out rate, it?s just as dangerous to your online business.
Reason: if people don?t read what you send anymore, it means they either don?t value the content or don?t trust you.
And if they don?t open and read your messages, they won?t respond to your offers.
According to a study reported in Target Marketing, after subscribers are on a list for two years, their propensity to open e-mail declines by nearly 40 percent.
How do you prevent mental opt-out? One way is to keep an eye on your open rate. If it sinks, that?s a sign people are mentally opting out and you need to do something about it.
Make sure your content is fresh and valuable. Surprisingly, many of your subscribers save or remember your e-mails, and if you try to recycle old messages, it won?t be received well.
If you suspect mental opt-out, try cutting back on the frequency of your e-mail blasts. Many subscribers are absolutely bombarded with e-mail ? yours and others ? and yours will stand out more if there are fewer per week. In the good old days of direct mail we used the term ?list fatigue? to describe a list that was being mailed to too often. Well, e-lists can suffer list fatigue too.
Send fewer sales messages and more content messages. A minimum of 50% of your e-mails should be pure content. I used to send two and even sometimes three sales messages a week. Now the majority of my e-mails will be pure content.
I found the best way to uncover mental opt-out was to ask my subscribers (including you) whether I was sending out too many sales messages and whether my newsletter contained enough content for them.
You can do this with your list, and believe me, your subscribers won?t be shy about speaking up for what they want from their subscription to your service.
Adjust what you are doing, give them what they want, and they will start to mentally opt in again, read your messages, and respond to your offers. But not overnight. It takes time to rebuild trust.
Do you know who is on your list and what topics they are most interested in? You can find out with an online survey using a tool like surveymonkey.com. We did this and it really helped me understand my audience better. Your subscribers will also appreciate that you took the time to do a survey to find out what they want.
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