3 Common Mistakes That Increase Unsubscribes

One of the fastest ways to critically damage your relationship with your customers and prospects is to mess up the communication part of the relationship.  Done right, email marketing is a great way to stay connected with your customers and prospects.  When used properly to add value to your subscribers, this can be a very powerful tool in your marketing tool belt.  Let’s look at 3 common mistakes that increase unsubscribes from your list.

Email marketing can be a powerful tool for connecting and bonding with your audience - when it is done right.

Email marketing can be a powerful tool for connecting and bonding with your audience – when it is done right.

Too Frequent Mailings

Nobody likes getting bombarded with email – not your existing clients, and especially not your prospective clients.  When it comes to email, more is not necessarily better.  So, what is the ideal mailing frequency?  Well there isn’t a universal answer that is perfect for all businesses.  That being said, most businesses will find that their ideal mailing frequency will be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.  The most important thing here is to clearly communicate the frequency of mailing to your list and then be consistent in mailing at that frequency.

How can you tell if this is a problem for you?  The best way is to begin by providing a space for feedback when someone unsubscribes from your list.  Additionally, your mailing open rates and unsubscribe rates can clue you in that you’ve got a problem, but they won’t tell you what exactly the problem is; you’ll have to rely on feedback for that.

I think I have a problem with this, now what?  You could reduce the frequency of your mailings, but that may not be the best approach.  A better, more sophisticated approach is to allow your subscribers to specify their preference on how frequently they receive email from you.  If you’re mailing your list more than once a week, doing this is a must.

Lack of Relevance

You’ve got to remember your subscribers are busy people with busy lives.  You have to earn your place in their inbox with each mailing.  This means providing high value with each and every email that you send out.

The problem of a perceived lack of relevance can usually be traced back to when the person originally subscribed.  You have to work with your audience to set the proper expectation.  Tell people up front how frequently they should expect to receive mail from you and what kinds of things you’ll be sending to them.

The more personalized you can make your mailings, the more relevance to your subscribers.  Not personalized, as in using their name, although that’s also important, but personalized as in tailored to their interest, behavior, circumstance, etc.  This is accomplished by segmenting your list and then sending customized mailings to each segment of your list.  For more information on list segmentation, be sure to read my article on four different ways to segment your list in “How to improve your email marketing“.


Boring mail gets deleted right away.  Most people scan their email inbox and open mail only from specific senders and with interesting subject lines.  Boring subject lines lead to mail being deleted without being read.   After several boring subject lines from the same sender, the connection with the subscriber has been eroded to the point where their unsubscribing is just a matter of time.

Taking a look at the open rates associated with each mailing is a good way to gauge the interest level that your email subject lines have with your subscribers.  If boring subject lines  or boring content is a problem that you encounter, the fastest way to turn the situation around is to bring in an experienced copywriter to boost the interest level of your mailings.

A properly maintained email subscription list is an extremely valuable asset to almost any business.  A properly maintained list can be used to generate sales and referrals as well as to cultivate a loyal following among your subscribers.  Avoid these three common mistakes and you’ll be well on your way.

Leave a Comment