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4 Reasons People Unsubscribe from Emails

How do you prevent unsubscribes? Email remains one of the top marketing channels, but if you miss the mark on perfecting your strategy, people will unsubscribe.

8 mins read time
Jeanna Barrett
Jeanna Barrett

Jun 19, 2018

Email is one of the original online marketing channels — it existed before social media, Google Adwords, SEO and blogging. And still, next to having your own business website, email still remains one of the top marketing channels to invest in. But, if you build an email list and then miss the mark on perfecting your email marketing strategy, people will unsubscribe.

So, how do you prevent unsubscribes?

I’ve gathered some of the top reasons people unsubscribe and how you can avoid making these email marketing mistakes.


With so many websites to sign up for — in both business and personal — it’s inevitable that your customers are members of dozens and dozens of website services. Every single of those websites likely have an email marketing strategy, so people’s inboxes are often flooded with marketing and sales messages. If you’re sending messages daily, or even sometimes weekly, this is likely more than people want to hear from one service.

I know that in my email inbox, a pet peeve of mine is when I sign up for a new website and immediately receive a drip campaign of emails every day or every other day after that. This influx of emails from the same sender in my inbox is cause for me to unsubscribe right away.


Create a nurture campaign that is properly spaced and gives your customers time to digest the information you’re sending them. Spacing out emails once a week or once every other week is a good strategy. You want to remain top-of-mind, but you don’t want to give them cause to think you’re flooding their inbox.

Once you have a nurture campaign strategy and timing setup, you can schedule these within your marketing automation software to go out based on triggers like signup or page visit. Then, you can test different email cadences to learn the most optimal spacing for your audience.

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Marketing these days is all about personalization — speaking directly to your customers about exactly what they want. If you understand the pain-point your customer has, you can create email content that will actually solve a problem for them, keeping them around and preventing them from unsubscribing.


Data to help you segment lists will be within your marketing automationdashboard. You can personalize by location, product, topic interest and more.

First, start by creating a set of customer personas to understand the different groups you’ll be speaking to (nay, emailing). Then create a list of triggers or data that will dynamically segment your lists. Finally, build out a personalization strategy for every segment’s email content.


You can get everything right in your email marketing — timing, subjects, segmentation — but if you don’t send the right content to your email list, your subscribers are going to unsubscribe. Usually the first time I receive an email, I skim the content to see if it’s something I’d be interested in. If you send me a short digest of your new content, or tips within an email I can’t get elsewhere, I’ll stick around. If you have a newsletter, I’m going to skim it to see how different it is from all the other newsletters I receive. I’m also going to weigh if it’s content I need to receive on a regular basis. Finally, I’m going to pay attention to how “salesy” your emails are. If you’re not helping me and sending content that is of value, then I’ll click that unsubscribe button. It’s inevitable that you’ll receive unsubscribes because some people just don’t want extraneous email. But, if you focus on making sure your email content is relevant, interesting and unique to what’s already out there, then you’ll keep those unsubscribes relatively low.


There are some ways to figure out what type of content your subscribers want to receive. First, stay away from sending a sales pitch in every email. Second, subscribe to your competitors email list and analyze what types of emails they’re sending, and how you can make your emails better. Create a list of related brands to follow, and curate their content within your email to create a digest of interesting industry news and tips.

A great way to stand out is have top-notch copywriting. Hire a writer who can make your emails succinct and interesting.

Also, don’t forget it sometimes pays to ask what your customers want to read. You can send a quick email survey with buttons that ask your email subscribers to select the content they’d most like to receive.

Finally, you can use data from the emails you send to analyze which topics are resonating the best. See which subject lines get the most opens and what type of links get the most clicks to help refine the type of content you’re sending.


Sometimes people have to signup to use a service or buy something once, and that doesn’t mean they’re invested in your brand or the industry. They essentially want to just “get in and out quickly.” I often get annoyed that every time I use a website online, I’m sent nonstop emails from the brand. This inevitabley means that every email list and campaign is going to receive some unsubscribes because some customers just aren’t interested in engaging with your business.

There’s no way to avoid some unsubscribes. And, that’s okay. It’s better to have an engaged and interested email list that might be smaller than a big email list full of people who just delete your emails and never pay attention.

This post originally appeared as a guest contribution on — a great resource for small business owners looking for a marketing automation tool!

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Jeanna Barrett

Jeanna is the Founder & Chief Marketing Expert for First Page, an award-winning, fully distributed marketing agency. Jeanna has a combined 17 years of inbound marketing experience at venture-backed startups, digital agencies and Fortune 500 companies, with an expertise focus on business and tech. She's been named 'Top 40 Under 40' of brand marketers and 'Best in the West' for financial technology marketing. In 2016, Jeanna left the U.S. to lay roots and build her business in Belize, and in 2021 First Page was named #43 in fastest growing private companies of Inc. 5,00 Regionals: California.

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