Because I am now in the position to be writing those weekly newsletters non-profits send out and those company updates for-profits send out, when I culled the mailing lists I subscribe to/twitter accounts I follow this week, I tried to think why.
My biggest reason was “because I had been meaning to”. More specifically, my choice to unsubscribe was not based on the content of a particular message, but of an overall impression of uselessness. Mailing lists that are nothing but calls-to-action I cannot deliver on, pitches for products I can’t use, and self-serving updates can lurk on my server for a while, but won’t last.
I used to read the Motley Fool every day in high school; but my Freshman year of college they decided to push their headlines into Hard-Sell territory and after a few months, I unsubscribed from every one of their communications.
I usually give new organizations about a month’s audition. If, in the random sampling of their regular communications I receive, I see concise, well-organized content that I think is interesting that month, I will keep it.
Recently, DailyWorth knocked my socks off with unique, fun coverage of finances. With a sisterly, genuine tone and great referrals, I think this is a good match for now.
On Twitter (I’m talking about the accounts I write for, not my own, because it doesn’t exist yet) the one thing I want from anyone I follow are tweets I can retweet and ideas for posts. If they cannot provide me that, I would like insight into the field, or at least something funny and well-written.
The cast majority of tweets don’t meet these criteria but because I am unsure of unfollowing etiquette, I only drop folks after consistent, egregious bad behavior. For example, one account sends out dozens of messages a day, many of them repeating the same phrases, all inane and uninteresting and sell-y. Another sends pitch after pitch after pitch, clearly link-baiting, and never just chatting.
So what can list-admins learn? First of all, don’t read much into the post that made someone decide to drop–the content may or may not have been relevant. Most importantly, if you provide consistent, concise content with asks few and far between, you won’t lose so many people.
I subscribe to mailing-lists to learn more about a subject, to join into a community, to feel like I am a member of a profession. I would never think to unsubscribe from the list of someplace I worked, because I like keeping up with my past communities passively. I even enjoy getting job notices passed on from former employers, even when they all require law degrees and/or residency in Doha, Qatar. If I find consistent value, I will stay subscribed. If I feel pitched at, pried and begged from, it is only a matter of time.
Life is too short for badly-written email.
“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”–Oscar Wilde