Why Unsubscribes Shouldn’t Stress You Out


Do you take it personally when someone unsubscribes from your email list?

You’re a smart content marketer, and email marketing is a big and important part of your overall online strategy.

But one thing you should definitely understand as you’re building your list of email subscribers, is that inevitably, you’re going to lose some of them along the way.

If you see your email unsubscribe rate spike, that doesn’t just mean your consumers aren’t interested in your content anymore… they don’t even want it in their inbox.

Yes, ouch. But don’t take it personally, or develop a new stomach ulcer over every lost subscriber.

Even the best marketing programs will face this problem. And most consumers are most likely to unsubscribe within 30 days of subscribing.

If you’re wondering why your new subscribers would jump ship so quickly, well, the Constant Contact blog asked 1,400 consumers that same question.

The results were:

  • 69% said they received too many emails from the business/organization
  • 56% said the content was not relevant
  • 51% the content wasn’t what they expected

The times with the highest unsubscribe rates can be traced back to large email campaigns, when a larger amount of emails are sent out.

As for relevance, if your business focuses on wedding dresses, for example, then consumers likely won’t find your messages relevant once they have gotten married.

Or your emails might be promoting a product that a consumer already owns, or doesn’t care about.

Or you’re sending out emails that are “batch-and-blast” – broadly written and sent out to your entire list, instead of targeting emails to certain segments.

And just as consumers sign up with certain needs and interests, they also sign up with different expectations on what they’re going to receive. If you fail to deliver on those expectations, that lessens the chance of keeping contacts engaged and increases the chance that they’ll hit unsubscribe.


So how do you retain your subscribers?

  • Personalize your emails to boost engagement and lower the risk of unsubscribes.
  • Engage with your list and let them know you appreciate them and their engagement.

And if a consumer does get to the point of unsubscribing, try to opt users down, not out. That means give them the option to receive less email, instead of none at all.

Hey, it worked for OpenSky, which reduced its overall opt-out rate by more than 12%.

And once you get past the probationary 30-day point, there’s a good chance that whatever customers you managed to keep will stick around for the long-term.

And even if people do leave… don’t stress.

Here’s 3 reasons why unsubscribes could actually be a good thing:

1. It gets rid of dead weight.

Some people don’t like it when you want to sell them things.

They want great content from you, but get angry or upset when you send them offers for relevant products or services.

In other words, these people want you to send them free advice, but they don’t want to actually buy anything from you, or that you recommend.

You don’t need these people on your list.

So if they self-opt themselves off your email list, that’s probably a good thing.


2. It saves you money.

Bigger lists will cost you more. Most email service providers will charge fees according to how many names you have on your list.

That’s just another reason to go for quality over quantity, because if you’re going to be paying for each subscriber, they better be people who actually open and click-through.

So if someone unsubscribes, you get to save money because you won’t be paying to send emails to a person who’s not interested in your content or in buying your products and services.

3. It saves you time and energy.

The majority of your list will consist of prospects and customers who care about your message and appreciate your content and offerings.

But there will also be people who:

  • Complain that you send too many (or too few) emails
  • Keep asking for free advice
  • Write (or call) and ask if they can pick your brain

And every time these people contact you, you have to take the time to read, decide what to do, and respond.

As an entrepreneur, you won’t always have the time or energy to waste on these “energy vampires” on your list.

Answering questions from qualified prospects and loyal customers is a good use of your energy. Dealing with this type of people… isn’t.

So if these people opt out, that gives you more time to pay attention to the others on your list who appreciate you, respect your boundaries, and want to pay for your expertise.

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When it comes to unsubscribes, remember the only metric that matters: is your list growing over time?

Even if it’s slow going, as long as the overall numbers are going up and you’re retaining more than you lose, you’re on the right track.

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