10 Tips to Lower Your Email Unsubscribe Rate

Email unsubscribe rate

The email unsubscribe rate shows the percentage of subscribers who no longer wish to receive your messages. 

Subscribers opt out for many reasons, such as email frequency, content relevance, and subscriber expectations. A high unsubscribe rate indicates your subscribers find your content uninteresting, too salesy, or spammy.

So, what can you do to maintain a responsive email list? We discuss the formula, good vs. bad unsubscribe rate, reasons for people unsubscribing, and tips for overcoming high unsubscribe rates. 


Table of Contents


What is the Unsubscribe Rate?

The email unsubscribe rate refers to the percentage of people who discontinue the subscription and leave your email campaigns. It’s a powerful email marketing KPI that shows how well your email campaigns perform over time. The average email unsubscribe rate is 0.49%, with the highest percentage of unsubscribes in B2B (non-retail) marketing — 1.08%. 

A high unsubscribe rate can negatively impact your sender reputation and deliverability. It’s because ISPs continually examine this metric to determine if your emails are safe enough to send. And when your unsubscribe rate is high, your emails can be marked as spam. 


Email Unsubscribe Rate Formula

If you use email marketing software, it automatically calculates the unsubscribe rate for you. 

If you are doing it by yourself, here’s a simple formula: 

Number of unsubscribed users / Number of emails delivered * 100

For example, let’s assume you sent 3000 total emails, and 55 subscribers decided to unsubscribe. Your unsubscribe rate would be 55/3000 = 0.018 * 100 = 1.83%. 

A high unsubscribe rate does not necessarily mean it’s bad news; here’s why. 


Why Letting People Unsubscribe is The Best Thing You Can Do

When subscribers leave your mailing list, it helps you differentiate between potential buyers from the rest. Even if those subscribers stayed, they wouldn’t likely interact with your emails. 

Here are more reasons why letting people go saves your email list:

  • Helps maintain deliverability: Easy unsubscribing reduces spam complaints and helps you maintain sender reputation and a high deliverability rate. 
  • Tightens your email list: A healthy email list equals quality subscribers. That’s why when dormant subscribers leave, your email list is cleaner. 
  • Respect for individual preferences: Your subscribers have the right to decide the type of content they will receive and when they should opt out. By providing an unsubscribe option, you value their preferences. 
  • Enhances list quality: A smaller list with engaged subscribers is better than a larger list with disinterested subscribers. Unsubscribes help you build a clean list with valid email addresses
  • Avoids spam complaints: If users can’t find a way to unsubscribe, they might mark your emails as spam. The more spam complaints, the worse will your sender reputation be.
  • Builds trust: Transparency creates a positive impact on your brand. Additionally, it strengthens your engagement and inbox rates.
  • Improve email performance: When you observe the reasons for unsubscribes, you can refine your email campaigns to suit your audience’s needs. This, in turn, increases the other email metrics, such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. 
  • Maintains compliance: Data privacy and anti-spam laws require every email sender to provide unsubscribe options. It safeguards you from legal consequences and domain blacklisting.

If you suddenly notice a spike in unsubscribe rates, it means there are gaps in your email marketing strategies. Perhaps you send too many emails, or your email templates don’t look professional. Or your subscribers are looking for better and more informative emails from you. Either way, calculating this email metric can be beneficial in many ways.


The Importance of Measuring Email Unsubscribe Rate

Tracking your unsubscribe rate helps you understand the effectiveness of your email campaigns and your customer satisfaction levels.

Here are 8 ways to show how it supports your strategies:

  1. Indicate relevance: The unsubscribe rate shows whether your content resonates with the audience. A high rate indicates irrelevant content, prompting them to disengage.
  2. Email quality assessment: Measuring the percentage of unsubscribes helps you assess the quality of your email content, and tells if you are fulfilling subscriber expectations.
  3. Refined targeting and segmentation: When you don’t segment your audience properly, you are bound to send similar content to all target groups. Knowing unsubscribe rates in different segments helps you tailor content accordingly.
  4. Prevents email fatigue: Overloading customers with frequent emails and repetitive content can lead to email fatigue, and it’s a bad email marketing practice. However, monitoring your unsubscribe rate enables you to adjust your email marketing content and frequency to suit subscriber needs. 
  5. Identification of problematic areas: Unsubscribe rates point towards problematic trends and patterns in your email marketing. Knowing the unsubscribe percentage helps you rectify your strategies and campaigns over time.
  6. Maintains sender reputation: A sudden spike in this metric can lead to a lower sender reputation and potential blacklisting of your email domain. However, when you constantly monitor your unsubscribe rates, you can identify issues and fix them immediately.
  7. Elevates subscriber experience: A low unsubscribe rate shows that your subscribers are happy with your content and have a positive brand experience.
  8. Improves strategic decision-making: Reviewing your unsubscribe rates assists you in implementing strategies that work for your audience. Whether it’s fine-tuning your content and frequency or re-evaluating current methods, monitoring unsubscribes is critical.

Measuring your unsubscribe rates is not about tracking your losses but about gaining helpful insights into what works for your audience. Now, let’s look at the industry standards for this email metric.


Identifying Good and Bad Unsubscribe Rates

While the normal standard is 0.5%, unsubscribe rates below 0.2% are considered excellent. Stable unsubscribe rates demonstrate a healthy relationship with your subscriber. However, your unsubscribe rates can differ with industry type, content, and strategies.

Look at these guidelines for good and bad rates:

Unsubscribe percentageInterpretation
0 – 0.2%Your email strategy is highly effective and subscribers are engaged. 
0.2% – 0.5% Good – Your unsubscribe rate is within industry benchmarks, indicating customer satisfaction. There is room to improve, though!
0.5% – 1.0% Average – Consider monitoring your email metrics and optimizing your strategies.
1.0% – 2.0% Elevated – You are at risk for higher spam and lower sender reputation. It’s best to take a closer look at your unsubscribe rates and the reasons.
2.0% – 5.0%High – Indicates potential issues with your content and list segmentation. Take immediate action to avoid consequences.
Above 5.0%Critical – Requires urgent attention and rapid changes in strategies.
Good and bad unsubscribe rates

The above is only a general guideline for this metric. You may set your benchmark or follow your industry standard to differentiate good and bad percentages.

Now, let’s see what causes these unsubscribes in the first place.


Reasons For High Email Unsubscribe Rate

Implementing double opt-in helps avoid a high unsubscribe percentage — most of the time; subscribers have not consented to receive your emails, leading to dropouts.

The other times, it could be that subscribers are taking time to adjust to your content and brand. 

Irrespective, here are common reasons why people leave your list:


You send too many emails

Sending too many emails has been linked to constant opt-outs from email newsletters. It’s because your subscribers experience fatigue when you overload them with your brand content. According to GetApp, almost 50% of them unsubscribe due to receiving too many emails. 

The main reasons include:

  • You have not mentioned the email frequency in your opt-in forms.
  • You assume your subscribers want to hear from you more often.
  • You send extra emails, thinking it will help your subscribers.

Your emails resemble spam

Your subject line decides whether subscribers open your emails or toss them in spam. Adding too many exclamation marks, over-hyped promises, and get-rich-quick-scheme content is seen as spam by the ISPs. Plus, subscribers set filters in place and are cautious before they interact with any email.


You Email Customers Without Their Permission

Cold emailing people just to increase the probability of higher open rates can backfire — these emails can be caught by spam filters, harming your sender reputation. Cold emails are often ignored or deleted, leading to lower response rates. Further, the lack of personalization can make these emails less effective. 


Changed subscriber needs

Subscribers’ preferences and needs are evolving and can change with time. That’s why you must assess and create content that fits their changing needs. Additionally, sending irrelevant content can make subscribers lose interest in your campaigns.

Here are a few examples of irrelevant content:

  1. Inviting existing customers to try your product when they have already purchased it.
  2. Sending digital marketing tips to fitness enthusiasts.
  3. Giving skincare regimens and tips to people who signed up for blogging tips.

Irrelevant content disrupts email personalization and trust in your brand. 


Not meeting subscriber expectations

When you are not transparent about what your subscribers can expect from your email sequences, it leads to dissatisfaction and unsubscribes. Besides, adding them to other lists because they signed up to one email list can also lead to opt-outs. 


You use auto-subscribing

Many readers are not aware that they have been added to mailing lists or autosubscribed. This is a potential cause for concern since it involves legal complaince. 


Too little content

While it sounds counter-intuitive, sending too little content can hurt your unsubscribe rates. Also, when your content or tone suddenly changes, your subscribers can become uncomfortable and back out.


Difficulty in unsubscribing

If your subscribers have to search for the unsubscribe link endlessly, they may report your emails as spam instead. That’s why your links must be straightforward and easily accessible. 

At Campaign Refinery, we believe that the only way to go is to make your unsubscribe links visible and allow subscribers to unsubscribe super-easily should they want to. 

To maintain consistency and build stronger relationships, provide value in every email and follow the tips below.


14 Tips to Overcome High Unsubscribe Rate

Your unsubscribe rate partially impacts your mailing list growth. When more people unsubscribe from your mailing list, your email list growth can become stagnant.

Overcoming a high unsubscribe rate requires a strategic approach, so follow these tips to get your unsubscribe rates on track.

  1. Understand your audience: Segmenting your audience helps you customize content according to their needs and preferences. You can use demographics, behavior, and user preferences to divide your audiences into groups.
  2. Personalize: Use a double-opt-in method to collect subscriber names and email addresses. You can use this data to personalize your emails further.
  3. Optimize email frequency: Notice how subscribers interact with your business. Website analytics, email open rates, click-through rates, and conversions show you what resonates with them.
  4. Offer exclusive content: While many brands use content recycling, it may not be the best approach. When your subscribers follow you on social media and receive similar content through emails, they are likely to unsubscribe from your newsletter. Define what type of person needs your content and why they would care. This will give you an idea of their likes.
  5. Ensure content alignment: You can send many well-designed newsletters, but if they don’t interest the reader, they will opt out. Send them tailor-made content based on their purchase history and website behavior. Address any pain points from reviews and customer testimonials.
  6. Avoid spammy words: Keep your email communication professional and friendly, and avoid spam trigger words or misleading subject lines. For example, use ”Let’s meet up for a chat” rather than ”Meet us for coffee at 5 pm today”. Keep your subject lines shorter than 5 words to retain customer attention.
  7. Optimize email design: Cluttered emails, slow loading speeds, and irrelevant images could lead to higher unsubscribes. Also, ensure your emails are optimized for different devices.
  8. Make icons touch-friendly: The icons and buttons must be large enough for users to click on them. This is also a good opportunity to link to important pages such as the checkout page, blog, or about us page. 
  9. Clean your email lists: Regularly verify and remove invalid and hard-bounce email addresses from your list.
  10. Use A/B testing: Update customer preferences and test campaigns with different subject lines, images, and CTAs to know what your audience likes best. 
  11. Seek feedback: Request subscriber feedback and use it to iterate your email marketing strategies.
  12. Re-engagement campaigns: Identify inactive subscribers and implement targeted re-engagement campaigns to win back their trust.
  13. Reward subscribers: Send discounts, deals, and coupons to subscribers based on their behavior. Additionally, use e-books and other digital content to maintain subscriber interest. You can also use email gamification — with Campaign Refinery, you can gamify your emails for higher opens and fewer unsubscribes. It’s simple — you set the points and awards, and your subscribers collect them every time they interact with your emails. 
  14. Use other marketing outlets: Utilize social media marketing along with email marketing to maximize revenue and reduce unsubscribes. You can include links to social accounts or use them as a CTA for purchases. 

It’s difficult to lose your hard-earned subscribers, but most of them create a negative impact on your email marketing. This is one reason you must regularly clean your email lists to remove inactive subscribers and fake email addresses.


The Importance of Cleaning Your Email List

Chances are that a few subscribers may forget they opted in and put you on the spam list. When you methodically clean your email list, you will be able to recognize the unengaged subscribers early. You can then choose if you want to send them re-targeted emails or take them off your email list. 

Once you do this, you will see a drastic reduction in spam complaints and a balanced sender reputation. This step is important because every time a recipient moves your email to the spam folder, ISPs record it as a spam complaint. High spam complaints lead to decreased deliverability and trust. In worse cases, your domain can be blacklisted, shutting you off from sending any email at all.

Aside from that, cleaning your email list comes with a range of benefits:

  • Better click and open rates,
  • Lower unsubscribe rates,
  • High deliverability, 
  • Reduced bounce rates,
  • Increased revenue, 
  • Reduced costs, 
  • A more engaged email list, 

To sum up, your email list determines the level of engagement and unsubscribes therein. You can manually weed out the inactive email addresses or use email marketing software to run through larger email lists, just like Campaign Refinery. 


Build a Healthy Email List With Campaign Refinery

A high unsubscribe rate is a clear sign that your email campaigns need improvement. The best way is to start with a clean email list full of active and engaged subscribers. 

Campaign Refinery‘s automatic list cleaning tool bulk sanitizes your list, increasing customer open rates by 37%. This feature immediately protects you from risky subscribers such as undeliverable, spam trap, malformed, bot, role and disposable email addresses. 

Through this process, our software allows you to qualify as a quality sender with verified email lists. We have set up processes that ensure you maintain low unsubscribe rates and the highest deliverability rates in the market. The results are self-evident on your email analytics dashboard — our customers report an immediate increase in deliverability by as much as 6x after signing up with us.

You get the picture — you can focus on developing appealing content for your email marketing campaigns while we handle your email deliverability and sender reputation. At Campaign Refinery, we are all about helping email marketing enthusiasts maintain a healthy email list and grow their revenue.

If you are looking to take your email marketing game to the next level, we are here with a holistic approach to help you do that. 

Apply to become our client and unlock elite email list performance!

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