Email Analysis

Combating a High Unsubscribe Rate

If you have a spike in your unsubscribe rate, one that is not explained by your email marketing software, then it is time to be concerned. If you show that this spike is outside your normal variation then you need to take action.

First the good news: if people are unsubscribing, at least they have probably opened the email. But from then on it is downhill.

The obvious thing to do is to use your email marketing software to see if there is anything that is common to a number of the unsubscribers, something outside the norm. This might be an age range, location, length of time on your lists, that sort of thing. Then assess the email that they unsubcribed from. Ask yourself if there is any suggestion of a connection.

For instance:

  • Was the email aimed at a particular age range, outside that of those who unsubscribed?
  • What was the time gap between that one and the previous one?
  • Was the language too abrupt or woolly?
  • Was there anything different about that particular email marketing campaign?


There are any number of other things you could ask and much will depend on your product.

The most likely cause of a spike is that you sent the email, in that form, to the wrong subscribers. The word wrong is critical so needs clarifying.

The main reason the subscribers are wrong is that the email isn’t specific to them. If you want to reduce your unsubscribes, segment your list. Whether you design your email marketing campaign to appeal to a certain type of customer, or pick customers to fit the email, is your choice, but do one or the other.

If the common feature is the length of time they have been on your list then in future you could try sending them a more generous offer just before that time. Mention that this is something of a reward for their loyalty. You might well have given them a gift to join the list, so one for staying on it is not such a stretch.

Other reasons might be a change of frequency or time of sending. If so, then the solution is quite clear.

One obvious way of discovering why someone has unsubscribed is to have an auto reply to their click on the box which asks them directly why they did so. Make it simple, tick box sort of thing. The response to such requests has, historically, been low, but give it a go.

You can make a last-ditch attempt to keep them in contact with you. Offer them alternatives, such as different ways of receiving the email, on mobile or even SMS. In the same way, remind them of your e-newsletter, or even the printed one. If you can keep them on board then there is always a chance they might return.
Everyone has an unsubscribe rate and most of us view ours with some degree of fear. A spike, one that is not explained by any reason, has to be worrying. Do something straight away, not after the next email marketing campaign..



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