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Do You Know Why Your Customers Are Unsubscribing from Your Email List?

The only thing worse than getting a low response rate to an email campaign is to see a rise in the number of recipients who unsubscribe.

Why do customers defect?

We’d like to think it was unrelated to our business, but that’s not always the case.

Let’s take a closer look at why customers opt out of your emails and the benefits of being unceremoniously dropped (yes, there are benefits). And we’ll talk about what you can do after they’ve left.

First, let’s explore why customers hit that dreaded Unsubscribe button.

With as unbiased a view as possible, consider the following questions:

  • Did you test the campaign on a small group before you went big? If you did test it, what were the response rates? Did you see variations in those responses in terms of demographics, social sharing and forwarded emails?
  • Did you segment your audience based on their interests? On an analysis of how they’ve responded to previous communications, campaigns and offers?
  • What was the timing of your email? More specifically, how often have you reached out to your subscribers?
  • Did your email focus solely on a generic offer or did it balance information and education with a relevant and compelling offer?

Ideally, the answers to those questions give you insight into how to strategically plan your next campaign.

So where’s the silver lining in losing subscribers?

For that answer, check out my most recent column on American Express’ OPEN Forum, “How to Learn from Customers Who Unsubscribe.”

What do you do when customers unsubscribe from your mailing list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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  1. You definitely always want to take a look at why people are opting out. That not only helps you identify any potential quick fixes, but also any bigger problems. Although there are certain email marketing best practices that apply to pretty much all businesses, until you start engaging with your customers via email there’s no way to know which tweaks you’ll have to make to keep folks from unsubscribing.

  2. I always write to ‘unsubscribers’ to ask for feedback, unless they left me feedback when they clicked the ‘unsubscribe’ link.

    About 25% respond, and every month one or two tell me they didn’t intend to unsubscribe and ask to be added back to my distribution list.

    Last month, one person responded, and we got into a dialog, which resulted in him recommending me to someone else.


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