Unsubscribe rates are one of the email marketing metrics that matter.
Although it is not the only metric that matters when used along with other marketing metrics, such as open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate, it can reveal a lot about your customers and their preferences, the kind of content they like to see as well as how often they would like to hear from you.
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What is an unsubscribe rate in marketing?
An unsubscribe rate indicates the percentage of customers who have unsubscribed or opted out of a mailing list after an email campaign. It is the percentage of customers who are no longer interested in hearing from you. For example, if your email campaign targeted 10,000 customers and 100 unsubscribed from your email list, your unsubscribe rate is 1%.
Although a customer indicating that they do not want to hear from you may sting a little, unsubscribes are quite common and reality in email marketing. Unsubscribes can happen for a myriad of reasons, so don’t take it personally and agonize over it. Maybe your customer is no longer interested in the topics of your emails or they are simply trying to manage their inbox better. In fact, the industry standard for unsubscribe rates is 2%.
What to look for when you have a high unsubscribe rate
However, if you have a higher unsubscribe rate, it’s time to deep dive and take a look at how you could have prevented your customer from saying goodbye.
The first thing to do is to narrow down the cause of the unsubscribe to see if a recent email campaign has caused a spike in unsubscribes. If your unsubscribe rate is consistent over time, there could be other reasons.
Let’s look at some of the reasons customers unsubscribe and the steps you can take. Incorporating these tips in your email marketing strategy will help you reduce unsubscribe rates.
1. Frequency of emails
The first thing to check is the number of emails you’re sending your customer.
Are you sending too many emails and annoying your customer? Too many emails can be viewed as spamming your customers, leading them to promptly unsubscribe or even worse, mark your emails as spam.
On the other hand, send emails infrequently and your brand will not be on top of mind for your customer. No one wants a barrage of marketing emails or advertisements on a daily basis. An optimal frequency to send emails is on a weekly basis.
2. Spice up your subject lines
A good subject line should spike interest and curiosity in customers, leading to an increase in open rates. Your subject line should be personalized, relevant, and interesting. Ditch the boring subject line and use your creativity to write an attractive subject line for your emails.
Additionally, your subject line should be short and sweet and convey the bottom line of your email upfront. In the example above, Jimmy John’s invokes curiosity and creates a sense of urgency in the subject line.
3. Segment your customers
If you know your customers well, it will be easier to cater to their interests. Segmentation is grouping your email list based on certain common parameters, such as location, customer preferences, etc. The segmented email list can be used to send targeted email campaigns that your customers will be interested in.
4. Personalize your emails
Once you have enough data about your customers such as their purchase preferences, birth date, address, etc, you should personalize your email and send them relevant offers.
Customers are more likely to open emails that are personalized and relevant to them. In the above example, Skillshare sends me emails about courses that are relevant to my interests.
5. Optimize for mobile
With more than 50% of internet traffic coming from mobile, not optimizing for mobile is no longer an option. Your content must be visually appealing and easy to read and navigate on multiple platforms. A poor mobile experience will reflect poorly on the brand and will cause an uptick in your unsubscribe rates.
6. Use double opt ins
Oftentimes customers may not have realized that they have subscribed to your email list. Make sure you have a clean email list by offering double opt-ins. Double opt-ins ensure that customers who have subscribed to your emails did indeed mean to opt in by email confirmation.
7. Deliver valuable content
It is far easier to retain an existing customer rather than acquire a new one. Once a customer has given you their precious email and has indicated that they’d like to hear from you, make sure you deliver valuable content.
The emails that you send should be occasional, informative, and valuable. There’s nothing like high-quality content that will delight your customer to reduce the unsubscribe rates.
8. Make it easy to unsubscribe
A large email list is not necessarily a good thing if your open rates are dismal and customers are not engaged. Although this might seem counterintuitive, making it easy for customers to unsubscribe will make sure you have a healthy email list. This can be done by providing an option to unsubscribe with a single click in your email campaigns.
An unsubscribe option should be prominently located in the header and footer. There’s no point in annoying a customer by making them search for the unsubscribe and going even further by making them log in to unsubscribe! An unsubscribe should be easy, if not easier than subscribing.
9. Allow selective subscription and ask for feedback
When customers unsubscribe, you could provide them options to selectively subscribe to emails as shown in the example above from Skillshare. If customers decide to unsubscribe anyway, make sure you ask for feedback, which can be used to change course and implemented in your marketing strategy. More often than not, customers will be more than happy to share the reason for leaving.
10. A/B Test
If you’re not sure of any particular parameter, say a design for an email or a subject line, perform an A/B test. A/B testing is a method where you send one email campaign to one segment of your audience and another email to a different segment by keeping everything constant and changing only one variable that you want to test. This way, you will be able to narrow down the email that performs best and you can iterate and improve your email campaigns.
You should also engage customers who are no longer opening your emails with a re-engagement campaign. If you’ve done your best and things are no longer working with a set of customers, it is better to remove passive customers from your email list so that you can have a healthy and engaged list of customers and can measure the actual ROI of your email campaigns.