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Why do people unsubscribe to emails?

Tags: email newsletter · email unsubscribe · when to unsubscribe · why people unsubscribe

If you have ever sent out an email newsletter and kept track of its progress over time, I’m sure that with each passing campaign you encountered people who opted out of your email list.

If you haven’t kept statistics regarding this, you should start straight away! Even simple numbers, like when have the most people unsubscribed can be correlated to improve your future emails’ efficiency.

Now, why is this? Why do people unsubscribe from email newsletters? Is it because they have something against you or your offer? Is it because they don’t like your choice of font? Well, even if a part of your unsubscribers may be related to the two above, the answer is a bit more general in nature…

  • People may unsubscribe from your emails because they receive too many of them.

Even if, right after signing-up they enjoyed your daily newsletter, after a while they may just grow tired of it… I mean, I’m sure that you have a stack of emails from a particular sender that are left unread as well – if this progresses, then the easy way out is just by unsubscribing from that service.

  • People may unsubscribe because they receive too few emails.

If you send out a message once/trimester, then not only will you have a really low subscription rate (because the news of your service won’t get around as much), you’ll also have a concerning amount of unsubscribers. That’s because many times, people forget to what they’ve subscribed to – if they feel like they receive something out from the blue, then it’s the quit button! Also, what interests some today may be old news by the time you get around to do a mail merge.

It’s best to have at least a once/week newsletter – that way, people know who you are, why you are contacting them and also don’t get overwhelmed. Twice/week is also good, so just click here to find out what the best day for your campaign is!

  • Sometimes, people just change email addresses, re-subscribe on the new one and unsubscribe from the old.

If your messages are considered useful and of interest, then some will be taking this route. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to include the subscribe here link and info in all your emails, so they don’t have to go through any trouble (also, if your email is forwarded, that person can also subscribe with ease 😉 ).

  • A part of the people unsubscribing will do this because they feel they’re “not getting what they signed up for”.

You should always be honest about what your recipients will receive, and it’s a great idea to also include some info about when they should expect it. People generally like knowing what they’ll get, so just a few phrases detailing your campaign, timing and so on will let them prepare for it. This also helps with the emotional attachment your subscribers will develop, since honesty and respect are traits we all look for.

  • From time to time, your newsletter will just get caught in an unsubscribing frenzy.

No matter how informative or useful your campaign is, you will have to accept that sometimes people will unsubscribe from it because they start having problems managing their inbox. The usual response to this is that they will unsubscribe from all services they’re signed up for, so you shouldn’t take it to heart!

A good idea would be to include a tiny questionnaire at the moment they unsubscribe – this way, you’ll get valuable feedback and will know if it’s because of your timing, content or other reason.

  • Some will unsubscribe because they don’t like reading your emails in a particular way.

I know this sounds weird, but bear with me… If your recipients get your emails at work, where they only have Outlook and they don’t particularly like Outlook, then they won’t read those emails. Or, if you have a complex, HTML-packed newsletter and they like reading messages on their phone, then again, yours will get passed over. That’s why it’s always a good idea to provide a web version of your emails, another one specifically formatted for phones and to take great care to include as many possibilities of accessing it as you can. For example, maybe some will just forego email altogether, since they prefer RSS feeds (which you should definitely use). It’s no problem, since even in that person unsubscribes from your emailing list, you will still have their interest – only on their terms. This, again, adds to the reader’s emotional attachment to you as a sender.

  • People will unsubscribe if you’re too aggressive with your offers.

Except for a few cases, you’ll generally send out newsletters with the goal of promoting something – a service, a product, it doesn’t matter. So, if people sign-up for sprocket news and you’re blasting them with special offers, discounts, bulk prices and BUY NOW offers, then they’ll quickly opt-out and leave. No one says that you shouldn’t try to sell your wares, just do it in a considerate manner and never forget that original, involving content is the first thing you should provide.


In any case, whether you get unsubscribes from being too eager and sending emails twice/day or from overly-promoting your products, the trick is not to give up! Keep trying, learn from your mistakes and always try to provide your readers with something of interest, rather than just another promotional offer. And to do this, do your research, invest in your email campaigns and… keep reading our blog for more tips and tricks! 🙂

Lastly, if you always wanted a simple and efficient tool for sending out emails to whole lists of people, just have a look at Easy Mail Merge, our feature-packed add-in for Outlook! With it you can personalize your newsletters, manage different campaigns and much, much more! So, just give it a try here or go ahead and purchase a lifetime license for only $39.95 (30-day refund period guaranteed)!

As always, we would love hearing from you so just leave your feedback in the comments section below or send it to

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1 comment

  • Jared Balis · September 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Lately I’ve been one of those people that has been unsubscribing from all of my “greymail” because I am getting WAY too much of it. It’s been a really successful battle. I have even unsubscribed from list that only provide me with a little value vs. a lot of value. While I may have gone a bit overboard, my email inboxes are quite clean and optimized, as far as only getting really important emails.

    I think the subject line and the from box are kay to getting someone to open your email, but the email itself better back it up, or you’re really at risk of people unsubscribing!

    Jared Balis

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