The Up-Side of Email Unsubscribes

If you are like most marketers, you want your unsubscribe rate with every email you send. You live in fear that lots of people will leave your list. In these days of distilling everything into a metric, no one wants list size to decline. A smaller number is bad, right?

It’s time to think more broadly. Email unsubscribes are not necessarily an indication of a problem.

For most organizations, there are more important goals of engagement than the raw number of people reached. A smaller list, is likely better.

Lots of disengaged subscribers messes up your email performance metrics.

Subscribers who are disengaged make it harder for you to see the real impact of your messages on those who are interested.

You want the right people.

Focus on getting the right subscribers, not just a lot of subscribers. You want the most qualified prospects and customers.

Engaged subscribers make relevance clear.

When you remove the clutter of unengaged subscribers, it becomes easier to make messages relevant. If the message does not connect with an audience you know cares, then it is time to refine and refocus.

Give up control. 

Allow subscribers to pick what they get and how often they get it. They are engaged, so let them have some control in the relationship. Give them choices beyond “in” or “out.”

Learn from every unsubscribe.

Reality is that people will leave your list. The unsubscribe confirmation screen should offer 3-5 options for the person to tell you why they’re leaving. You won’t ever really know why someone leaves your list unless you ask.