No one likes to see people unsubscribe from their email list.

You work hard to provide a great experience for your email readers and the last thing you want is to see people leave.

But do you really know why people are unsubscribing from your emails?

This week on Periscope, we wanted to take a closer look at what unsubscribes can mean for your email marketing and what you can learn from the people who choose to opt-out.

We covered:

  • Why unsubscribes aren’t always a bad thing
  • The common reasons people unsubscribe
  • How to figuring out why people unsubscribe from your email list
  • How to provide a great experience for new email subscribers

Watch the recording from this week’s live chat on Periscope below.

(Having trouble viewing the video? Watch it here.)

Here is the transcript of our talk, if you’d prefer to read.

One question we hear all the time is “How can I get people to stop unsubscribing from my emails?”

But it’s important to rethink the conversation around unsubscribes. While no one enjoys seeing someone opt-out from receiving their emails, unsubscribes aren’t always a bad thing.

It really comes back to the idea of quality vs. quantity. While you want to grow your email list, you also want to be focused on making sure you’re reaching the right people.

If someone unsubscribes from your list, it doesn’t mean they are done having a relationship with your business. That relationship doesn’t begin and end when they join or leave your email list.

What you want to avoid however, is having those people who are interested in receiving your emails, and do want to learn more about what you have to offer, unsubscribing from your list — especially if the reason they unsubscribe is something within your control.

Also, keep in mind that there are laws like the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) and The CAN-SPAM Act in the US, that require you to provide a way for people to unsubscribe in the messages you send out.

The good news is that if you’re using an email marketing service, like Constant Contact, there is an unsubscribe link automatically added to every email you send out.

Why do people unsubscribe?

A few years back, Constant Contact reached out to consumers to find out why they choose to unsubscribe from marketing emails.

We found that:

  • 69 percent said it’s because of too many emails from the business/organization
  • 56 percent said the content is no longer relevant
  • 51 percent said the content wasn’t what they expected

These stats really boil down to three important reasons why people unsubscribe:

  1. Frequency of your emails

You need to think carefully about the amount of email you are sending to your list.

Start out by looking at what you’re doing today. Are you sending bi-weekly? Are you sending once a week? Or once a month?

Have you changed your sending frequency since you got started?

If so, you can look to see how that change impacted the number of people opting-out from receiving your emails.

And if you haven’t but are interested in testing different frequencies, make sure you’re looking at your email reports to see if that results in more unsubscribes.

  1. Relevancy of content

We subscribe to emails because we’re interested in receiving content that’s relevant and interesting to us.

Pay attention to what your audience is interested in. One of the best ways you can do that is by looking at your click-through reports. You can see a breakdown of which links are getting the most attention from readers.

If you attended our Periscope where we talked about content a few weeks back, you’ll remember we discussed the benefits of surveying your email audience to learn more about the topics they’re interested in and the questions they’re asking. An online survey is an easy way to collect content ideas right from your email readers.

The best content ideas will always start with your audience.

  1. Set the right expectations

It’s your responsibility to set expectations right from the moment someone is signing up. If people are unsubscribing because the emails they’ve received aren’t what they expected, then it’s within your control to fix that and make sure people do know what to expect.

What type of content will be in your emails? How often will they hear from you? What is the value of signing up?

Once you’ve set those expectations, the next step will be to follow through and fulfill on the promise you’ve made to new subscribers.

How to see why people unsubscribe

If you’re using an email marketing service like Constant Contact, you can give people the option to provide a reason when they unsubscribe.

This can be a sensitive topic because it’s never fun to hear that people aren’t interested in your emails, but if you use this information the right way, it can be incredibly useful for limiting your unsubscribes.

Look in your email reports. If you noticed that you’ve received a few unsubscribes, you’ll be able to click on the number of opt-outs and, if someone left a comment when unsubscribing, you will see it.

This will help you better understand why people are unsubscribing. As you’ll probably notice, the reasons why people unsubscribe often have nothing to do with your business. You may see people who have moved or maybe no longer have a need for your service.

But if you do see comments specific to your emails, it’s important to pay attention to any reoccurring feedback you receive. If you notice any trends in why people unsubscribe, it could be time to make a change.

Limiting unsubscribes from new subscribers

One place where people see unsubscribes a lot is from new subscribers. This can be frustrating because these people opted-in to receiving your emails and haven’t stayed on your list.

A lot of times, it has to do with how you’re getting people onto your email list. If you’re using an “old school” method of collecting email addresses, like a paper sign up form, it’s important to get those contacts into your account right away. If you’re waiting days, weeks, or longer to add someone to your list, then they may not recognize your email or remember signing up when they receive your message.

This is where sign-up methods, like a web sign-up form or a mobile app can benefit your business. With these tools, your contacts are added to your Constant Contact account automatically.

Then, you want to think about the experience you’re giving those new people when they’re added to your list. Your welcome email is a great way to welcome new subscribers and remind that why they signed up.

You also have the option to add a permission reminder to the emails you send out to new subscribers. You won’t need to include this in every email you send out, but this is an easy way to remind people why they are receiving your email which can help limit unsubscribes.

Next steps

Keep an eye on your unsubscribes. You won’t need to go crazy, monitoring them everyday but be aware that there are different reasons why people unsubscribe and take steps to limit the factors that you can control.

Also remember that unsubscribes won’t always mean that someone is ending their relationship with your business. You will likely still see many of these people in your store or at your office. And a lot of these people will choose to connect with you in other places, like on social media.

We want to hear from you! Are there topics you’d like to see us cover live on Periscope? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to follow @ConstantContact on Periscope.