Why Are You Losing So Many Email Subscribers?

The top 8 reasons people want you out of their inbox

More than 205 billion emails are sent out every day. And 72% of US adults say they prefer that companies communicate with them through email. So why is it that unsubscribes are still passing your net new lead generation? The basic answer is, it’s so easy for marketers to get a little overzealous with their email sends and make simple mistakes that drive your leads to click the dreaded link we all hate – unsubscribe.

Here are some basic email faux pas that may be the reason people want out of your inbox.

8 Reasons your Subscribers are Unsubscribing

    1. You’re buying lists. Purchasing lists for cold email sends typically means that you’re sending lists to people that aren’t interested in what you’re talking about. So naturally, the first thing they will do is hit unsubscribe. While buying email lists might seem like a quick and easy way to expand your reach, there are better ways you can organically grow your email database. Try putting valuable, educational gated content on your website for people to download. According to CMI, 60-70% of content produced by B2B companies is not being used. However, there are great tools like Brightinfo that help produce relevant content based on a visitor’s previous actions. It’s also important to make your subscribe forms – newsletter, blog, monthly webinars, etc. – easily accessible to your audience.
    2. Face it, you’re a stage-five clinger. Sending emails at the wrong time and too frequently is a perfect way to make someone tired of seeing your name pop up in their inbox really quick. So how often should you be sending emails? You may not love this answer but … it depends. It depends on the type of communication you’re doing. If they are trying a free trial then it’s appropriate to send frequent emails. If someone signed up for a monthly newsletter, then they only expect one newsletter a month. If you’re providing interesting content that’s relevant to them, they’ll be more open to receiving emails more often.
    3. You called them by the wrong name. Calling someone by the wrong name (or even better yet, calling them ) just annoys them, giving them all the more reason to click unsubscribe. While merge tags are a great form of personalization for emails, it’s not 100% guaranteed to get the name right every single time. If you’re going to use merge tags to personalize emails (which I highly recommend doing), make sure your merge tags are pulling the correct data. You should also have a plan for when the data doesn’t exist. For example, if there is no name in the merge field, have it insert the word “friend” or “there” so it reads “Hi there,” instead of “Hi insert name”.
    4. You’re ignoring their feelings. One of the best ways to turn off any customer or potential customer is to ignore them – their interactions, comments, complaints, etc. The way in which a subscriber chooses to interact with each email provides a wealth of data that marketers can use to better personalize campaigns and connect with the reader. In fact, personalized emails improve click through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10% (Aberdeen).
    5. Your emails aren’t even pretty. When your emails aren’t visually appealing, your subscribers don’t want to stick around. Even if your color scheme looks great and your images are eye catching, have you tested your email on different browsers? What about mobile? Take the time to test your emails everywhere! Almost every email server, every device, every browser looks different. Test all of them. There are several marketing automation tools out there to help you create and test a well designed marketing email so take advantage of them.
    6. You’re using an overdone subject line to grab their attention. A study from Return Path on more than 9 million emails found that emails with clickbait subject lines had lower read rates compared to emails with similar content that avoided clickbait words. Below is a list of top clickbait phrases to stay away from in your next subject line:
      1. get rid of
      2. secret of
      3. shocking
      4. what you need to know
      5. won’t believe
    7. Nobody made a plan after the first send. You sent out an email blast, great. But what’s next? If your next step is nothing then you’re guaranteed a few unsubscribers. However, in the event that losing subscribers is not ideal, make a plan beyond the inbox. A sound strategy means you shouldn’t make content an afterthought. Very often, particularly in nurture campaigns and newsletters, content is a critical component of your emails. As a result, you need to pay attention to the content that you’ll share in these emails. Strategically mapping your content to your email marketing efforts (and even aligning content creation with campaign planning efforts) is critical to your overall success.
    8. Breaking up with you is impossible. If a subscriber wants to end the relationship, let them. Whether you want to lose a subscriber or not, sometimes it just has to happen. You shouldn’t be wasting time on people that don’t want what you have to offer. Legally, you need to offer an opt out option for your emails, but even if that wasn’t the case, doing so is simply a best practice in keeping your prospects happy and maintaining a positive brand image. As a result, make sure that you make this process as easy as possible. You can also offer selective opt out options. Allowing people to stay on some email lists while removing themselves from others may actually help to lower your overall opt out rate.

Stop Making it a No-Brainer for Readers to Hit Unsubscribe

Email marketing is most effective when you deliver a relevant, helpful message to people who have at least some familiarity with your brand and have asked to receive that information. And keep educating yourself. As marketers, we all know technology, best practices and everything else in our marketing world changes at a breakneck pace these days. One of the best things you can do to keep your email marketing strategy relevant and your list of email subscribers high is to regularly educate yourself. Join email communities for email communities for email marketers. Check out blog posts and resources around email marketing. Keep track of the emails that come to your inbox and take note of what you like and dislike about them.

Staying educated on a regular basis and avoiding these faux pas can help ensure you stay up to date on the best email practices and keep your quality subscribers opening their inboxes for more.

3 thoughts on “Why Are You Losing So Many Email Subscribers?

  1. #5 is not really accurate

    Jo from Copyhackers, Neil Patel, Kimra Luna, Apryl Beverly, Tepsii Thendo and some of the internet’s highest converting, most well-known web marketers and copywriters send lonnnnggggg,sprawling-text emails with 0 design in them.

    Because they work.

    1. It’s a good point. And I appreciate your raising it!

      I’m not sure it’s saying that you HAVE TO have a well-designed email, it’s just saying to test it. What works for Jo, Neil and others who have massive built-in audiences and plenty of name-recognition might not work for everyone. ABT: always be testing.

    2. Hi Vanessa,

      I’m actually a strong believer in text-only emails and agree that they can have great conversion rates. I was thinking of this article more in terms of some of the marketing messages that people subscribe to such as newsletters or blog updates. There is definitely a great need (especially when looking for a direct response) to use text only version. Another tip to keep in mind is to be thoughtful about who the email is coming from as well as who the “reply to” is so that it makes sense for the type of email you are sending.

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