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People unsubscribe, it’s a fact of life and something that happens to the best of us. No matter how hard you try, some people are going to want to stop hearing from you at some stage. The first question you might ask yourself is “why?” or “what did I do?” Honestly, it’s difficult to tell, most of the time.

That being said, there are some common reasons why people unsubscribe. Here’s a list of them, and what you can do to counteract them.

1 – Too many emails (from you)

When asked why people unsubscribe, the most common reason is that they get too many emails. Sending too often is usually a sure-fire way to have people opting out. But exactly how often is too often? Well, that varies from list to list and industry to industry.

MarketingSherpa ran a study asking how often people would like to receive promotional emails (promotional emails being sales notifications, coupons etc.) from companies that they did business with. Here are the results:


Now, that looks pretty spread out, as far as results go, but the clear winners are “at least monthly” and “at least weekly”. Based on this, you can extrapolate the best frequency for you, and what will make sense based on what you’re selling and how you’re selling it.

Twice a day is definitely too much, and once a day might be pushing it as well. If you’re sending at that frequency, try drop it back a bit and see how it impacts your opt-out rate, as well as your sales. Chances are your sales won’t be affected, but your opt-out rate should decrease.

As an aside, an interesting thing to note on those results is how low the “quarterly” and “yearly” options scored. Email marketing best practices suggest you shouldn’t email any less than once a month, as subscribers are likely to forget you, and that’s backed up by what we can see how they prefer their communication.

2 – Too many emails (in general)

Too many emailsOccasionally, an inbox can be overwhelming, I know mine is. I have a lot of varied interests, and have legitimately opted in to hear from many different companies (some that I know will be emailing me daily), but managing my inbox can sometimes be tiresome. Have you ever thought of offering your subscribers some choice?

Instead of opt-in or opt-out, try giving your subscribers the choice to “opt-down”. Let them know they can manage the frequency with which you email them, and let them update their preferences. Instead of daily, offer weekly or monthly newsletters as well, and let subscribers choose which one they want to get. This might be the difference between losing a subscriber outright, and having them stick with you.

However, losing a subscriber because they get too many emails in general might be a symptom of another cause, and it’s not the other emails they get that are at the root of the issue. It might be because…

3 – Your emails aren’t relevant anymore

Irrelevant emailsYou may have lost a subscriber because, out of all the promotional mails in their inbox, you know that they didn’t unsubscribe from all of them. They unsubscribed from yours, probably a few others as well, but there were some that were worth keeping around. And the harsh truth is, this means your email wasn’t good enough for them to remain on your list.

So make your email worthwhile. Segment, personalise and target your list so that they’re getting tailored content. Value add with exclusive offers and rewards for subscribers. Just make sure your email is worth a precious spot in their inbox.

What if that’s not enough?

Unfortunately, even after you change up your frequency and give your readers targeted, valuable content, sometimes it’s just not enough. People change, their interests change, and that’s okay. You don’t want to hold your subscribers captive when they’ve moved on or exhausted their interest in what you have to say.

Of course we recommend you keep up the good work when it comes to getting new subscribers (we make it super easy for you) to replenish the ones you may have lost. Just take care of the ones that you have already have as well.

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