Why are People Unsubscribing from my Emails?

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When referred to as a percentage your unsubscribe rate probably doesn’t sound very high, maybe 0.2% perhaps? But on a list of 100,000 which you send communications to 100 times a year that’s almost 20,000 people you’re losing – 20% of your weekly send total. It’s always heartbreaking to see people unsubscribe from your emails, but by following best practice, you can prevent those dreaded unsubscribes from occurring. So what are the top reasons why people are unsubscribing from your emails? And what can you do to help prevent your subscribers from opting out of your communications?

Too many emails

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has unsubscribed from emails because I’ve felt like I’m being bombarded with communications in my inbox from the same company. It’s important to get your email sending frequency right, however, this very much depends upon the nature of your industry and what you have to offer to your customers.

A general rule of thumb that works well here is to send communications when you have something of interest or value to your subscribers. However, it’s highly advisable to let the customer decide how often they’d like to receive communications from you, or, at least, be clear on when and why you will be sending them emails. This can be done through the use of a preference centre or as part of your sign-up process, enabling the subscriber to select how often they’d like to receive your communications.

Irrelevant Emails

If you open a few emails from a retailer and there is nothing of interest or relevance in here it will hike up that unsubscribe rate. Our customers who have the highly personalised or segmented email campaigns see the lowest unsubscribe rates as customers are more focussed on looking at the interesting relevant content rather than trying to find that unsubscribe option.


When you ask your customer for their email address they expect something of value in return. Typically this is the first to get the latest offers, new products or announcements, but marketers which just turn to promoting whatever it is they need to shift that particular day without consideration of providing value to their subscribers are putting the relationship with the customer at risk.

Who are you?

Customers will forget who you are – quickly. It’s important to introduce your brand through a welcome email instantly after sign up so they recognise you. This is especially important when the email address has been collected offline and the customer hasn’t been exposed to the same online branding. Don’t wait a month to send the first email otherwise it’s more likely they will unsubscribe that first time.

It’s inevitable

You’re always going to get unsubscribes and that is OK – customers which have no further interest in your products and services won’t want your emails, so don’t fight it and make it difficult for them to opt-out. Include your unsubscribe link at the bottom of your email where it can be easily seen.

Unsubscribes are the small issue

Unsubscribes aren’t the biggest problem you face. A much bigger issue is the ‘emotional unsubscribes’, those which have simply decided that they’ve had enough of your emails and won’t open anymore. It’s a lot of effort to unsubscribe compared to ignoring you, so don’t think that because you have a low unsubscribe rate that the above does not apply to you.

Your emails aren’t cutting the mustard

Despite the length of email marketing’s existence, I still see numerous emails out there that would make me want to unsubscribe from communications altogether. Whether the flaws lie in simply bad design, a lack of consistency, broken links, missing images or the incapability of displaying properly across mobile devices, these are all strong reasons which can put your subscribers off. Maxemail ensures that this isn’t the case for our clients with features such as the ‘Mobile Responsive Email Builder’ and the ‘Check Email’ tool which prevent emails from experiencing display issues and ensure that all emails are delivered into the inbox error free.

About Rupert Adam

Marketing Manager at Emailcenter, the UK's largest independent ESP.


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