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Why Subscribers Unsubscribe

Kirk Bentley

Why Subscribers Unsubscribe

Email is a huge part of your marketing mix and critical to your business. You spend hours dreaming, tinkering and optimizing your program to make it valuable to your organization. You’re doing everything right. So, why then are people unsubscribing? Why do great organizations with great programs still lose people each month? Keep reading…

We’ve all done it. One morning we log in and say, “Ugh…I just don’t need this anymore.” Or maybe, “Please stop emailing!” Or my wife’s personal favorite, “I never signed up for this!”

As thrilling as it is to see your list grow, it can be just as discouraging when customers say, “No thanks.” Managing list attrition is part of the modern marketers job and it’s why you need to have a list growth strategy in place. You can’t hold on to everyone. In fact, on average most subscribers only stay engaged on your list for about 18 months. So, why do once-engaged subscribers become brand deserters? Here are the three most popular reasons.


Receiving too many emails is the number one reason subscribers leave. So, how often should you send? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer but generally, once per week is the minimum. From there you’ve got to monitor your email metrics and test different cadence levels. Finding that perfect frequency fit for your program will take data analysis, testing and asking your subscribers. Frequency and content are inextricably linked. Sending the same message too often is a common mistake. Which takes us to point number two.


Sending content that subscribers don’t care about is a sure fire technique to shrink your list. But irrelevance is more than just copywriting that falls flat. Great email is about also about novelty, excitement and providing something they don’t get anywhere else in the inbox. Mix it up with animated gifs, video and new design elements. Throw some emoji in that subject line. Keep things interesting. Don’t forget your data. Sending truly relevant content means you’re utilizing all the data at your fingertips including previous purchase history, email activity and anything else you collect online. Use it to serve up a dynamic email with content just for that subscriber. Think like an advertiser and get their attention.


Too many email marketers consistently send poorly designed email. Whether it’s a lack of knowledge, resources or clear branding expectations, you must own the design of your email and keep it modern. Review your email design against modern web design trends at least once a year. If your email looks like it just walked out of 1998, you need to take steps to update. Here’s what good email design looks like. Modern. Easy to read. Mobile optimized and engaging. Don’t forget that over 50% of your emails are opened on a mobile device.

List attrition is a fact of email marketing. Those marketers armed with a solid list growth strategy and a holistic view of their email program will see their lists and engagement grow. Take a look at your frequency, relevance and email design. Are you sending something interesting every campaign?