The Dirty Truth about why People Unsubscribe from your Newsletter

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Updated on: January 6th, 2023Sharon Sexton7 min read
BlogPost The Dirty Truth about Why People Unsubscribe from your Newsletter

For most businesses, developing a mailing list for a newsletter takes time and energy. Many marketers watch their subscription numbers like a hawk, smiling at every addition and frowning whenever someone unsubscribes. Those who do leave aren’t always willing to provide a reason why which leaves you guessing as to exactly what it was which caused them to unsubscribe. As a top digital marketing firm, we have felt that pain ourselves which is why we wanted to share the dirty truth about why people unsubscribe from your newsletter.

Common Reasons People Unsubscribe

Based on numerous surveys over the years, the reasons people unsubscribe are fairly straightforward and have not changed much:

  • Too many emails – This has always been a hot button for email and by extension, newsletter marketing. How much is enough without being too much? It is important to find the right number, or close to it, because this is the top reason people will unsubscribe and its not even close.
  • I didn’t want to subscribe – Based on surveys, around ten percent of all those who unsubscribe blame ignorance about the original signup. While this is taken with a grain of salt because it is a relatively polite response to a survey question, it could indicate an issue with how that process works on a website.
  • Emails looks like spam – Spam is so prevalent in the email world that many people, me included, err on the side of junking it. After all, if the message is important the company will email again.
  • Content or information isn’t useful – If the information isn’t providing a user value, why would they want to clutter up their inbox with it?
  • Content isn’t tailored to me – Some people expect a more personal connection with a business and when it comes to email marketing of any sort, desire the communication to be personal and directed specifically to their wants and needs.
  • Too much content – The information provided is excessive and hard to digest.
  • Too little content – The information provided could have value if there was more of it.

Tips to Improve Newsletters

Most of the problems discussed above can be remedy by focusing on a few key areas:

  • Find the sweet spot for frequency – The best approach to finding the right frequency of emails is to start slow and then carefully monitor the unsubscribe numbers and click-through rates as the frequency is increased. Once the sweet spot is found, stay there for a while, but occasionally test by increasing or decreasing the frequency by a single degree to see if the numbers can improve more.
  • Review subscription signup process – Ideally, the only people you should want on the newsletter mailing list or those customers or potential customers who will be interested in the content being provided. The newsletter should have a clear Opt-In process to make sure that people truly do want to hear from you, rather than requiring an email address at some stage and then automatically including people in a distribution list when they have no real interest. A double opt-in mechanism offers a way to be sure people who really want to sign up, are signing up.
  • Better subject lines – A bad subject line can cause an email to end up in the spam folder quite quickly. Subject lines should be carefully written, clearly conveying the content you are delivering. The preheader should also be very concise and engaging as that will often be seen in the preview window. It should be obvious who the email is from. Some companies use delivery services that don’t reflect the business email address, or they vary sender names which can cause confusion to the receiver.
  • Tailored for mobile devices – The majority of people view email on a mobile device, even if that means previewing emails they may wish to read later. It is important that emails are optimized for mobile to ensure they can read the subject line, and everything renders properly no matter which email client is being used. Emails that aren’t mobile-friendly typically get marked as spam by the provider.
  • Content aimed at smaller groups – Rather than using the one-size fits all approach, segment your mailing list as much as possible and then deliver content more specific to each group. One of the common complaints that newsletters aren’t useful or tailored can be resolved by doing this.
  • Provide value – Any content you are sending out absolutely needs to provide value otherwise you are wasting their time. Content should be relevant, engaging, and provide value to people. Topics should always be adequately covered. This simply cannot be stressed enough if you expect results from newsletter marketing.
  • Improve aesthetics – Aesthetics of a newsletter are often overlooked, but still are important to engagement metrics. Fonts, colors, images, and buttons are all things which can be modified and adjusted for readability, mood, load speed, click-throughs, and engagement. Take the time to understand the effects of each element and then look for the right combination to frame your content.
  • Edit and proofreadEditing and proofreading are two things which get lost in the mad shuffle of production far too often. However, they are both invaluable when it comes to finding simple spelling errors, the wrong word combination, a lack of sub-headings or spacing, and an easily digestible message.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that an emailed newsletter is an excellent marketing tool which can be utilized to engage an audience along with spur website visits and conversions. However, if the proper time, effort, and energy is not put into what you are delivering to your subscribers, the dirty truth is people will unsubscribe from your newsletter without a second thought.

Be sure to check back every week for great new Lounge Lizard blog articles.

Published on: March 28th, 2019
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