/ Email

Why You Want Unsubscribes


person holding phone while using tabletThe moment of truth has arrived. Your deployment went smoothly, the artwork was enticing, and now you are ready to see your results. You have followed all the email best practices and so your metrics should all be good. You scan the results and see successful open rates. Your click-throughs are double digits and your deliverability is as close to 100% as it gets. Then you see it—the unsubscribes. The number isn’t significantly high, but your heart sinks. After all your time and effort, people still do not want to receive your communications. And while understandably disheartening, unsubscribe requests are not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, there are multiple reasons you actually want people to unsubscribe.

The Silver Lining of Unsubscribes

They can warn you of bigger email issues.

If you see a steady spike in unsubscribe requests, it is probably an indication that something in your email program needs to change. What are you promising subscribers when they initially sign up? Are you living up to that promise? Have the types of content in your emails changed significantly? Or has your audience changed in some way?

An upward trend in unsubscribes could be a sign that you should test new content. Or perhaps begin to experiment with segmenting your audience based on additional data you have on them.

They save you money.

If someone doesn’t want your email, then you shouldn’t spend money sending it to them. With many ESPs charging by subscriber or number of sends, the unsubscribes will lower your overall cost for sends. This savings could be directed towards other efforts such as social media advertising or another channel where your customers can be found.

They can help support marketing decisions.

Every marketer can agree—the more data you have, the better. After all, data is the best way to back-up any beliefs you have about your customers. High spikes in unsubscribes can give you insights into what your audience doesn’t want from your brand. It could also signal a shift in who makes-up your actual audience. Either way, these types of insights can help inform not only your email marketing strategy, but your digital strategies as a whole.

Getting More Out of Unsubscribes

While there is plenty of info you can infer by examining unsubscribes, there are also measures you can put in place for them to volunteer more information. Exit surveys are a great way to measure more information about why subscribers are opting out. Questions to consider on your exit surveys include:

  • Send frequency questions, i.e. do they receive too many emails from you?
  • Content relevancy, i.e. are they getting value from your emails?
  • Confusion over opting-in, i.e. they don’t even remember signing up for these emails
  • Other reasons, i.e. a spot for a soon-to-be unsubscribe to give you additional information; Often times, brands get some of their most honest customer feedback here

Preventing Unsubscribes

While unsubscribes can teach you a lot, you also don’t want to see customers unsubscribing from your email marketing program simply because they are signed up for the wrong thing. To prevent this, consider using a Custom Profile Center instead of a one-click unsubscribe. This gives subscribers the opportunity to choose what type of emails they do or do not want to receive. Custom Profile Centers can include things like:

  • A listing of interests or preferences specific to your brand
  • Send frequency options
  • Demographic information which can help for better segmentation in the future

While this won’t stop all unsubscribes, it will help steer many customers towards more relevant content.