What to Do When They Unsubscribe (Because They Will No Matter What You Do)

A mailing list is a powerful email marketing tool that allows you to deliver content to a large audience with a few simple clicks. After you’ve sent your mailing list you are going to want to measure how successful your campaign was.

The first place your eyes are going to focus on is how many people opened and read your mailing because its natural to measure success in terms of how many people read your mailing. Just as natural is to measure failure by how many people unsubscribed to your mailing. There’s no reason to feel rejected, the fact that a subscriber is unsubscribing from a mailing means that they are simply exercising their right not to receive mailings and you should applaud their effort to have themselves removed from your list.

They could just as easily filter your mailing into a spam folder which would do you a disservice by depressing your email deliverability. Worse, they could flag you as spam and if enough people do this then you can easily be blacklisted by your ISP.

You may very well expect to have a few unsubscribes but what if you notice a spike in the total number of unsubscribes? Do not be alarmed, this is an indication that something needs to be addressed. This could be due to faulty marketing material which gave your new sign-ups false hope, the material itself may need work, or you may have done something to otherwise alienate your readership. Unsubscribes can be an indication that you need to change the direction of your mailings.

Even if your direction is solid and your marketing is not misleading then people are still going to want to unsubscribe with every mailing. Nobody lives in a static vacuum. People’s needs evolve whether it is through their careers, education, lifestyle, or relationships. Some people refuse to unsubscribe from mailings because of the fear that it alerts spammers that an email address is active. Someone that unsubscribes from your mailing is telling you that they trust you but do not wish to receive further mailings.

Unsubscribes are proof of the legitimacy of your permission based mailing and as such you should regard all unsubscribers as your friend.

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  • Peter Reck


    Thank you for your post.

    For a newbie user of 12-all it is nice to read your article, as it encourages and inspires me to discover more of the depth of e-mail marketing, or in my case, community building as well.

    I particularly appreciate your comments which support an important value I hold: Honor subscribers in their choice of what they want to have in their inbox. I fully agree, that as a distributor of information, I want to make sure that I deliver pertinent and useful information to those *that want to receive it explicitly*. This is what sets it clearly an no-misunderstandibly apart from spam.

    Peter Reck

  • Hi Peter,

    The best practice is to make ethical decisions and I applaud the values you hold. Statistical analysis of campaigns is essential and a lot can be and will be written about this in the future. We drive home the point that 12all is for permission based mailings only and if it is used in any other way it does a disservice to subscribers and to anyone like yourself that runs campaigns the way they are intended to be run. Anyone that engages in unsolicited mailings or deceptive practices offends the values we hold as a company and they are not the kind of business that we are interested in.