Hands down the saddest feeling on earth is the notice that someone left your email subscription. Before I started personalizing email campaigns, this would happen to me with almost every single email campaign.

The first step is understanding the obvious. The thing that should be obvious is not waiting for months to have passed after a new subscriber comes on board before you actually send them anything. At that point, they don’t even remember you. The key is to hook a new subscriber off the bat and get them interested in what you have to say.

The second step is to make the effort and reach out to them. Here’s what I did:

The last time I got an unsubscribe, I messaged the guy (I already had his email) and just shot him a quick note saying I was sorry to see him go and was it because the content wasn’t what he thought it was going to be?

Here’s why this is a brilliant and simple approach:

It takes just a second to do. It creates a personal connection that allows me to step out from behind the curtain of email marketing – making me more real to him and maybe even feeling a little called out for unsubscribing. And I get valuable information.

This fellow hadn’t even realized he unsubscribed (which got me to thinking how many other people are doing the same thing and is there an issue with where the unsubscribe button is located, making it maybe too easy?) These are important constantly churning questions that will help keep your email game sharp.

The second piece of valuable info I got was how he felt about the brand. And why he loved it. We ended up having a small chat about why he’s drawn to the brand and how he finds value in it – and I’m thinking awesome. It gives me immense perspective and helps me gauge what I’m doing right so I keep it that way.

The key to reaching out to unsubscribers is not sounding like a sad and desperate ex. You just want to shoot a quick friendly note – a nudge really and leave it at that. Maybe they respond, maybe they don’t. Either way, you did your part and you move on. You want to be casual, light-hearted and maybe even funny. You want to give people a chance to see why they’re going to miss out if they leave – and that means not clutching onto them.

Of course, you also want to give people the opportunity within that first email to loop back in. So offer a hyperlink in that original nudge because they might loop back in without necessarily wanted to start a dialogue with you. But in most cases, since I started doing this, people do shoot back a message or two, which also helps you better get to know your audience. At an enterprise level, this is the kind of work best suited for a dialogue coordinator who might be doing some social media work as well.