Why do customers unsubscribe from your emails?

I recently came across a great article from GetResponse.com around some of the reasons why customers unsubscribe from your emails.

Every single company will lose customers from their mailing list, it is inevitable. This is one of the facts of email marketing, that no matter how hard we try, people will unsubscribe from your emails. With regards to what is an “acceptable” unsubscribe rate, this post confirmed that as long as your unsubscribe rate stays below about half a percent, you’re not doing too bad. I have been told that if yotur Unsubscribe rate if 1% or under, you’re doing pretty well, so don’t get despondent if your customers are unsubscribing!

You have worked hard to get those people on your list and you would like like to keep them. Below are a few of the most common reasons people unsubscribe, along with what you can do to counteract each one.

1) Information Overload
They simply get too many emails from you.

In email marketing research studies of why people unsubscribe, the #1 reason is usually “too many emails”. Sending emails too often is a sure way to drive people off your list, so send frequency is definitely something to consider when trying to grow your email database.But how often is too often? This actually all depends on the size of your list, but there is some general data available. MarketingSherpa recently asked 2,000 U.S. adults about their email frequency preferences (I will do a separate blog post on this over the coming weeks) by asking them this question: How often, if ever, would you like to receive promotional emails (e.g., coupons, sales notifications) from companies that you do business with? The graph below shows the responses:

Graph on how often you would like to receive emails

The general concensus of the study was that customers want to hear from companies via email roughly once a week or once a month – email marketing best practice recommends emailing your database at least once a month and here’s why: any less and people will forget who you are.It can be hard to say how often is too often to send, but here are a couple of points to remember:

  • Twice a day is way too much – this is a sure-fire way to drive your unsubscribe rate up.
  • Once a day is probably too much. If you’re a B2C company, selling products to customers, and you pitch something for people to buy, do it no more than once or twice a week. There are, of course, obvious exceptions to the rule – you should do some testing on send times, days and frequencies to find out the optimal send frequency for your particular database.

You could also do a dedicated opt-down email when you send out an eDM to your entire database giving them options, like the example below:

Fewer emails

This is an excellent way to maintain some of your customers.

They get too many emails in general.

Some of your subscribers may have chosen to opt out simply because they get too many emails. While this may sound like a legitimate reason for customers to unsubscribe, it’s really just a surface cause. If you lose a subscriber because they’re getting too many emails overall, you’re actually losing them because your emails aren’t good enough to make their list of enewsletters they want to receive. They won’t unsubscribe from every email they receive, they’re just cleaning up their Inbox, thinning out the herd a little bit. Unfortunately, your emails are one of the messages to be cut.

The second reason why your emails might not be good enough for subscribers, is actually also the second most common reason people unsubscribe.

2) Your emails are just not relevant

Customers will cull your emails if they are not what they want or are interested in. But the most effective way to get around this is segmentation. Here are some ideas of data segmenting:

  • interests people select when they sign up
  • which links people have clicked in your emails
  • online resources (such as ebooks, on-demand webinars or whitepapers)
  • participation in online events (like a webinar)
  • how often people click on your emails (aka frequency of interaction)
  • geography
  • overlay data (like income level, psychographics, etc)

Data segmentation can help you to deliver more relevant content to your customers but bear in mind that sometimes people just gotta go, because their interests change.

So, what about you – what is the main reason that you’ll unsubscribe from emails? Have you done any unsusbcribe testing? Let me know by leaving a comment below!