• Dr. Sharon Livingston

How to Open a Closed Door

And, actually improve the relationship after someone unsubscribes from your list.

Most people who come into the helping professions, LOVE what they do. You can see their faces light up as they talk about the types of people they help and how they see them grow over time. They really enjoy meeting and working with people, hearing their goals and their sticking points, they love problem solving, they’re rewarded by seeing their clients achieve the results they want. It’s very satisfying work.

But . . .

Getting the word out, building a following and converting them to clients is NOT the best part for most. They wish they didn’t have to worry about websites, social media or mailing lists, newsletters and free webinars.

Small biz marketers educate us about the value of a solid and ample mailing list. It’s hard to get people to subscribe to our lists. We need to figure out who they are, what they want to know and then provide excellent, relevant and useful information.

When we finally have them and we believe we’re giving them what they seem to want, it’s disheartening to have them suddenly unsubscribe, especially if they’ve been in your camp for a while or longer.

Why do people unsubscribe?

A number of different internet gurus have done surveys to learn about why people “say” they unsubscribe. It’s interesting to note that the results are the same for those satisfied and dissatisfied with a company.

According to Marketing Sherpa, the most frequently reported reasons across the Satisfied and Dissatisfied are:

Too many emails in general. 26%

Not relevant to me. 21

Too many from this company. 19

Always selling me something. 19

Boring and/or repetitive. 17

Don’t have time to read emails. 16

Look cluttered and sloppy. 10

Look bad on cell phone. 7

All of these points are well taken. They raise some interesting things for us to consider. For example, how many are too many? That depends on the person. For some, more than once a month is too many; while for others more than twice a day is too many.

To address the issue of frequency, some email marketers ask for frequency preferences when a prospect or customer signs up.

How often would you like to hear from us about this topic -

o Daily,

o A few times per week,

o Once a week,

o Every couple of weeks,

o Once a month?

Others ask people about the kind of content their readers are interested in learning about.

We can talk more about clutter, appearance and being sure the content is readable on cell phones. But what I’d like to talk more about here is the unspoken reason for unsubscribe reactions.

What if the reason for unsubscribing has nothing to do with you, your company, your subject line or your content?

What if you just happened to hit your subscriber on a “bad” day where they were disgruntled about something, someone, an interaction they just had and needed to hit back.

What if you arrived in their inbox just after they’d had a tiff with their honey, their kids, their boss, a rude server at their favorite coffee shop or just a cranky driver who honked at them?

Unsubscribing is a way of rejecting, of saying No. We don’t have enough opportunities in our everyday life to say No gracefully. Isn’t that why there are so many articles on why we need to assert our own needs with a “No”? This is especially true for those of us who are looking for a coach who might be able to absorb their upset, without hitting back. [And by the way, we in the helping professions who like to take care of other people are particularly lacking in opportunities to say NO.]

Unsubscribing is a strong assertion of a NO with a bit of anonymity thrown in for safety. Most of the people who unsubscribe are those who know you peripherally but not in a close relationship – not your current client or colleague or friend. It’s a way to express negative emotions without creating a mess in one’s everyday life.

We’re actually providing a service by allowing people to unsubscribe. They needed a way to vent and did.

But, it doesn’t have to be a one sided communication. If my theory is correct, this person just engaged with you albeit with a rejection. What if it was an invitation? What if you responded with something more than an automatic – “you’ve unsubscribed successfully” or even, “We’re sorry to see you go.”

Once they’ve unsubscribed, they’ve expressed their annoyance, may even feel just a little bad about it and are probably more likely to respond to a sincere communication. What if you sent a personal note that acknowledges them and invites more? This works particularly well when it’s someone you know a little about, but also can be successful by inviting “strangers” to teach you about what they need.

“Hi Joe. Thanks for your request. You’ve been unsubscribed. I want you to know that I take this work seriously. Could you give me a little feedback? For the future, what do you think I might do differently to be sensitive to the needs of others like you? It would mean a lot to me to hear from you. Thanks so much. Sharon.”

To give you an example.

“Don” responded to me saying he had no idea of how he got on my list, that it must have been some spam effort. [That made him angry and suspicious.]

I apologized saying I didn’t know either, but was sorry if the newsletters were not helpful. I did ask if he was someone interested in coaching and perhaps he had clicked a link somewhere.

He said he was interested in coaching but was feeling inundated with advertising for coaching schools.

I said I understood and if there was some way in the future I could help or provide useful information...

This was all via a series of short emails. I told him I’d be happy to discuss by phone if he ever thought that would be helpful. He wrote back the next day asking for a consultation.

This won’t elicit a response from everyone, but it allows you to refine your list with responsive prospects. You take a chance of real communication with people who might want more from you, even though they unsubscribed.

Recipients of your newsletters are more than names on your lists. When we reach out to them directly we address the very human needs of being seen and acknowledged, especially when they’re annoyed. And it’s hard to stay upset with a thoughtful, related response from someone who wants to know how to better serve.

Would love your feedback on this idea.

Thinking about getting certified as a Professional Coach?

Want to talk about it? Or any questions you have about professional coaching? Let’s talk and see whether or not it makes sense for you to become a certified professional coach.

Call me or email me. 603 505 5000. DrSharonLivinston@gmail.com

Warmest regards,

Sharon :)

Dr. Sharon Livingston