The Fine Line Between Shock and Unsubscribe - From Your Reader’s POV

Create Content, Small Business

Why Writing for the sake of shock value could boost your unsubscribe rates.

I want to preempt this post with the idea that I am writing in from the perspective of a reader.  This post is NOT to tell you how to write your newsletters or blog posts…but simply to inform you of how they might be perceived.

I’m a little bit irritated right now…and I can’t totally put my finger on it.  I’m hoping that writing my feelings will help to clarify them a bit, so I apologize in advance if the thoughts are not strung together in a comprehensive way. (Truth be told…that also might just be the medication my doctor put me on today. *shrugs*)

A few minutes ago, I popped into my inbox to see what fresh hell I’d missed while I was out today…and sure enough, there was an email that stuck out like a sore thumb.  The newsletter was titled “Fuck this”.  Now, I’ll tell you RIGHT now, that is NOT what offended me.  I am actually QUITE fond of the word “Fuck”.


Yep…it’s the drugs.

Anyhoo!!  Intrigued, I gave it an open.  A short, three sentence paragraph and two links were all that awaited me. To sum it up, it was geared towards the Black Lives Matter movement.

Before you all get bent out of shape…I actually AGREED with the politics of the newsletter!!  But that is beside the point.  I ALSO agreed with the “Unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the email.

Why? Because that is not what I signed up for.  I signed up for business advice, newsletter ideas, traffic tips…NOT a rally cry interrupting my business routine.  My mind was NOT prepared to make a decision on a political stance (which is what this newsletter was asking me to do)…it was prepared to learn how to boost repin rates!

So…what makes a shocking newsletter TOO shocking for your audience?  I’m no expert…so again, these I want to point out that these are all based on how I feel as a READER.

  1. A shocking title with crap content - Look…I GET titles.  I break down the importance of my title formula in this post. What I DON’T like, are titles that feel like a trap.  Titles that are intriguing and click worthy…but lead to a pile of crap wrapped in turd paper. What do I LOOOOOVE? Content that lives up to what I clicked on!!  This is the reason I recommend writing your content FIRST!!  Your epic title will not only be click worthy…but will lead to content I am expectation.
  2. A completely unrelated topic to your business - Oh MAN does this one piss me off!! The email I received today is a fine example. If I had signed up for a website that was politically geared…then this newsletter would have simply been opened and archived…or simply ignored. It would have been expected to some extent.  I imagine that, because of the title of the newsletter, the writer’s open rate was pretty good.  I also imagine that, because of the political and completely unassociated topic of the email…so was her unsubscribe rate.
  3. No value to your reader - We give out our email addresses fairly sparingly…so to say it’s irritating when we get an email that gives us NOTHING in return for our time is an understatement.  I don’t know about you guys…but I get AT LEAST 100 emails a day, of which maybe I will open 10-15.  SO…if I open your email, I want something in return!  I know it sounds selfish…but I gave you my email address, damn it!
  4. You write to the wrong audience -  Look, I COMPLETELY understand the writer’s anger over the matter she was trying to bring to my attention…I just don’t think she expressed it in the right forum. Would you walk into a client meeting and start talking about your religion?  Or your stance on abortion?  Perhaps your ideas on the current political arena?  No…because you don’t know your clients.  They are NOT your friends. I want to repeat that…THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS!!!  If you wouldn’t have these conversations with your clients face to face…don’t have them in your newsletters.
Related Posts:   These 7 Bloggers Will Change Your Small Business

It’s simple…I expect a certain amount of professionalism in my inbox (SHINE THOSE “REPLY TO’S”, SOLDIER!)…so if you break ranks, I will simply unsubscribe, leaving you with less of a chance to make an impression or sell to me.

Yes…your newsletter audience is YOUR audience, and you should always be yourself.  That is what attracted them in the first place!  But at the same time, as a reader, I don’t want to be preached to…I want to be taught.

Until next week, my friends…keep it professional and fuckityfuckityfuckfuck!!  😀

Terra Dawn

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  • Reply
    Travel Pockets
    July 9, 2022 at 1:38 pm

    I so know what you mean!!!! 🙂 I don’t like it when I get an email with a catchy title and then when I click on it, it is nothing that was of interest to me.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2022 at 12:38 pm

    I hear you, sometimes the shock value is a turn-off and will lead to me pressing the unsubscribe button… if I get that icky feeling about a share, it’s game over.

    • Reply
      July 12, 2022 at 8:47 am

      Amen Maria! You have to trust your gut…in this case, my gut just said “irritated”. lol.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    I agree and at the same time, don’t agree with you. First of all, let me tell you that I’m from a far, faaaarway land from the US, and the whole Black Lives Matter movement is something I just can’t relate to. However, since I follow a lot of US business folks, that’s all I’ve seen for the past week.
    I too, would’ve unsubscribed from that newsletter. I think that if someone gave me their address it would be because they are interested in something very specific from me.
    But I also try think that many of us are our own brand. And sometimes, when something like what’s happening in your country is very special to you, you can take a stance and let your followers know.
    Is your newsletter the right place to do it? No, not at all… from a business point of view. But it also gives a powerful message about where you stand with certain things.
    All in all, I think that you CAN take a political stance on something but the way the blogger did in her newsletter is not the right way to communicate it.

    • Reply
      July 12, 2022 at 8:51 am

      I do agree with you pretty much. I feel like you can, indeed, share your political stance in your business…you just have to do it in a way that makes sense with your business message! 🙂 In this particular case…it seemed as though the business owner was watching the news, saw a development in the movement, got mad and sent out a newsletter simply stating “F all of this!! We have to do something! Click the link to join the movement!” When it’s approached in that matter…it’s hard (as the receiver) to put your head in the right place to ACCEPT that email’s message. Like I said…I actually AGREE with her issues!! I just don’t want to get them in my inbox! 🙂

      Thanks for your wonderful and thought provoking response!! You make all the sense!

  • Reply
    Stacey Loring
    September 18, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    I don’t mind the shock, what I do mind is signing up for an informative newsletter only to be slammed with take my course to learn more. All of this get an unsubscribe. I give it 5-10 times and if that’s all I see, I’m gone. I have a pretty healthy newsletter subscriber base and I would never try to sell them anything. What I do give them is a peek inside of my life that I don’t share with my readers. My email subscribers get something others don’t. To me that’s what a newsletter is all about, not what you can sell. As for any political prose some may add into their newsletter, to me, it just shows another side to them, regardless if I share the same opinion or not. Try to sell me something, I’m gone. Share with me something your passionate about regardless if that’s against your brand, I’m sticking with them.

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