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Why Unsubscribes are Actually Good for Your Email Marketing

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You may not know all of the expert-level email marketing terms—what is a churn rate anyway? But everyone should be familiar with what an unsubscribe is. That’s probably because you’ve probably unsubscribed from an email list yourself. (If you haven’t, you should give it a try sometime. Use a tool like to clean up your inbox.)

Everyone gets too many emails. That’s true for you and it’s true for the people on your email list. Allowing anyone to unsubscribe at any time means that you can instantly stop getting emails from someone and keep your inbox that much tidier.

Some marketers live in fear of unsubscriptions. They dread people leaving their email list—not only because it means they’ll have a smaller email list, but also because it means someone has rejected their content. Which can feel hurtful.

But know that the unsubscribe can actually be your friend. When kept at a manageable level, unsubscriptions help make your email marketing efforts more effective. 

Unsubscribes keep your list clean

Your email marketing content is not for everyone. You should be creating emails specifically targeted to your audience, which means it won’t be relevant to people outside that circle.

Therefore, you really only want people in your target audience to subscribe to your email lists. And you’ll inevitably get some people who don’t fit that profile who will randomly subscribe.

That’s not effective for you because you’re spending your time sending them emails that don’t matter to them. And they’re understandably ignoring those emails. So you want those non-targeted users to unsubscribe.

That’s in part because most email marketing platforms charge you based on the size of your email list. This doesn’t count addresses that have unsubscribed from your list. So stop paying for emails that aren’t helping you grow your business.

Unsubscribes improve other email marketing metrics

The size of your email list is not a helpful metric for your company’s growth. Email open rates and click rates are better indications of effective marketing. And decreasing the number of irrelevant users on your list helps to improve your open and click rates.

Think about it, allowing your disinterested customers to unsubscribe helps to weed out the majority of people who aren’t opening or clicking your emails. It’s far better to have a smaller list of engaged users than a huge list of disengaged users.

The goal is to never artificially inflate any email marketing metrics. Instead, your goal should be to gradually grow your email list in a healthy way with people who actually want to be getting emails from you. It also helps to send out emails that are worth opening and clicking on.

Unsubscriptions keep you legal

Businesses should include an unsubscribe option on all of their emails not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s the legal thing to do. That’s right—you’re obligated by law to make it possible for people to opt-out.

The law doesn’t specify exactly how you must include an unsubscribe link, just that “…it shall be as easy to withdraw.” And hiding a link in a footer in the same color as the background doesn’t exactly make it easy for people.

There are a few instances where you don’t need an unsubscribe link, but those are the exceptions. You’ll want to default to including one when in doubt. And take some time to familiarize yourself with some other email marketing laws to keep your marketing legitimate.

What you don’t want is for people to simply keep deleting your emails, or ignoring them, or worst of all, mark them as spam. All of these actions (or inactions) aren’t ideal for the health of your email list—not to mention your standing with the internet police.

Unsubscribes hold you accountable

Sometimes you’ll have members of your target audience unsubscribe from your list. That’s not what you want because ideally, your content is relevant and interesting to them. So their unsubscription means you may have strayed from relevant content.

Ultimately, there may be a point when you’re getting too many unsubscribes. You’ll need to watch out for that carefully—specifically, monitor who is leaving your email list.

There are a number of reasons why your audience might unsubscribe from your email list. The primary reasons are sending too many emails or there are technical issues with viewing the emails (like not being optimized for mobile). There are plenty of pitfalls to avoid when it comes to email marketing.

Thankfully, those are things you can easily work on. Do some testing with different content and sending frequencies to see if that improves your unsubscribe rates with your target audience. Or consider asking them directly for feedback on the quality of your email content.

Need help with email marketing?

Effective email marketing is an important part of any businesses’ marketing strategy. Email is still one of the most reliable forms of marketing. When done well, it can improve your SEO and increase your brand awareness.

If you need help with building a healthy email list or leveraging the one you’ve already got with more impactful content, GreenMellen is here to help. We’ve got the experience and processes to help you with your approach to email marketing.

Reach out to us to schedule a time to discuss your needs and expectations, and we’ll create a custom plan of action for your business. 

In the meantime, you may even want to sign up for our monthly marketing email newsletter—it’s something you won’t want to unsubscribe from.

About the Author

Robert Carnes

Marketing Manager

Robert Carnes is a freelance writer, published author, and professional marketer. His book, The Story Cycle, is your business's guide to becoming a better marketer. Robert lives in Atlanta and you can follow him on social media @jamrobcar.

View Robert's Profile

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