4 foolproof steps to nurturing and retaining email subscribers

So you’ve followed some of the ideas from our previous posts and gotten people to subscribe to your lists—now what? First and foremost: welcome them! Sending a short, automated email that welcomes new audience members lets them know what kind of information they’ll be receiving, and thanks them for signing up is a great way to show your appreciation and strengthen the relationship right off the bat. It also makes a great first impression.

What’s next after that? Here are four tips to help boost subscriber retention:

Respect the relationship

 Government organizations often need to share a continuous stream of critical information with the public at a massive scale. Finding the messaging frequency sweet spot is crucial to nurturing and retaining subscribers. Offering different frequency options (weekly, daily, or real-time are standard options) is a great way to put the power in the hands of the people, ensuring that they remain in control of how often they want to hear from you and avoiding information overload. Some digital marketing platforms, including GovDelivery, can offer subscribers the option of choosing frequency level during the subscription process.

Update your unsubscribe process

When people subscribe to your content, they may sign up to receive information on multiple topics at once. If a subscriber later decides that they no longer want to receive updates on, say, traffic conditions, that doesn’t necessarily mean they no longer want to receive updates on community events either. Make sure that you allow your subscribers to opt out of specific lists individually, rather than forcing an all-or-nothing approach.

Ask for feedback

 The hard truth is, no matter how well you execute your communications strategy and how much effort you put into nurturing the relationship, at some point some people just won’t want to receive your updates anymore. Rather than treating this situation as a failure, take advantage of opt-outs as a learning opportunity. People love to give their opinion, so try asking. The more you can understand about why they are choosing to opt out, the more you can do to improve your communications in the future. Check if your platform provides triggered unsubscribe confirmation emails that can include a survey asking for feedback.

Review and analyze results

 You can’t improve your communications strategy if you don’t understand what its strengths and weaknesses are. Recording, reviewing, and analyzing metrics allows you to be better informed about what’s working and what isn’t, and helps your prove the efficacy and impact of your department’s communication efforts to other stakeholders within the agency. Testing basic elements of email communications, such as a subject line or which day of the week you send can make a huge impact on the public’s engagement with your content. Try sending 50% of your audience an email with a short subject line and the other 50% the same email with a longer subject line. After a few hours, you can see how subject line length can drive more email opens among that audience.

Need to take a step back and learn how to get more subscribers to your email list in the first place? Check out our post “Build your audience first – 7 ways to grow your reach for greater impact.”

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