Practical Tips

Unsubscribes: How They Are Triggered And How You Can Avoid Them

Veröffentlicht am 28 March 2019 | von Maximilian Hermann


Every email marketer has a dislike for this term: “Unsubscription” or “unsubscribe”. Naturally you want the number of your newsletter subscribers to be as high as possible and constantly growing without any setbacks in form of unsubscribes. Sorry to say that this is sometimes inevitable. All of a sudden you see yourself confronte with an unpleasantly high number of unsubscriptions and in the worst case you don’t even know the reason for it.

How Bad are Unsubscribes Really?

First things first, you should have a closer look at who that is you are losing as a subscriber. According to a Bluecore study most newsletter unsubscribes are of subscribers who didn’t buy anything anyways (77%). That is a significant number of subscribers about which you were maybe happy when they showed up in your statistics, but they didn’t give you any added value, and more important did not generate any revenue at all. The number of those who unsubscribe while they already but a product from a brand they subscribed to once, is evidently lower and the unsubscribe rate of multi-time buyers is even lower. Those “phantom subscribers” first mentioned, can even have negative effects on you KPI. Subscribers with no intention of buying or no interest at in your products at all will neither open your mails nor click the links. This way your click and opening rates could hit rock bottom or at least come out way worse than it should actually be the case.

Industry Differences are Considerable

There are obvious differences when you compare unsubscribes of b2c newsletter with those of b2b newsletters. For example, retailers in secors like healthcare, beauty, or jewellery do have high unsubscribe rates from people who were non buyers just like most other retailers, but a very low unsubscribe rate when it comes to one or multi-time buyers. In contrast to that, b2b businesses have the highest unsubscribe rate with multi-time buyers.


What are the Consequences of Unsubscribes?

It is difficult to determine exactly how much loss you make through unsubscribes. There is more than one factor to take into consideration, like customer data or simply brand awareness. The fact that a great amount of unsubscribers did never buy anything anyways, buffers the effect of unsubscribes on real sales. This means there are different types of losses when it comes to unsubscribers:

  • Type “phantom subscriber”: The loss of this type of subscriber brings actually even a positive effect because they did never buy your products and didn’t intend to in the future. A purge to clear off all those subscribers can even save you money. That is because the cost of an email marketing plan usually depends on your number of subscribers. So be happy that you are not wasting any more money on them and that a plan for your “real” subscribers will cost you less.
  • Type “special offer subscriber”: When these types of subscribers start unsubscribing, it was on one hand predictable, because they only subscribed to use this special offer in the first place. But on the other hand you possibly missed an opportunity to bind them as customers. With personalised dialogue marketing you maybe could have made them loyal and ongoing subscribers. They did at least already buy from you once.
  • Type “loyal subscriber”: Should these subscribers begin to unsububscribe, you are at a point where you should definitely start searching for the reasons and try to erase them.

So if long term subscribers get lost or you unsubscribe rate all of the sudden increases rapidly, there might be a reason to worry. In general, your subscribe rate should grow continuously, meaning you should gain more subscribers than you lose. If this turns vice versa, it can cause loss, in the sense of your image as well as monetary. But as always, there are exceptions to this, e.g. if you initiated a revision of your mailing list.

Of course you can say that every lost subscriber is a potentially missed opportunity to convince a customer. Even subscribers who were never interested in your products or just wanted to make use of a special sales offer, can be converted to customers with great content and attractive offers.

Reasons for Unsubscribes are Often Non-Transparent

Many email marketers struggle with finding the cause for their unsubscribes. Sure enough there are always some cases with individual reasons that you cannot always figure out but we can at least name two of the most stated reasons:

  • Subscribers receive simply too many marketing mails. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you personally send too many mails but in general inboxes are flooded with countless promotional mails. Lots of users then take time to go through them all and unsubscribe everything that doesn’t seem particularly interesting to them at this certain moment. In general, subscribers react better to newsletters from brands or businesses they do not get every day but once a week or even only on special occasions.
  • Another big reason for unsubscribes are non-personalised newsletters. If your offers are not customised for the recipient and therefore are marked unfitting and irrelevant, they will probably unsubscribe.

If users start telling you specific reasons for their unsubscribes you should definitely listen to it because most users only bother to tell you when they are really annoyed or upset. How you avoid these things in the first place you can read in our blog post: 10 ways to reduce unsubscribers

Personalisation May be a Little More Expensive But it’s Worth it

And so it shows, it may be easier to send out unpersonalised mass mailings but investing a little time and money can have great effects. With email automation software you can administrate customer data and at the same time build personalised campaigns to attract customers, not snub them.  This way you keep your unsubscribes curbed and on top of it you increase the customer experience.

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