Email Unsubscribes Are Healthy For Your List and Your Business

I have a secret.

Email unsubscribes are good for your business. They’re healthy for your list and a sign that you’re doing things right.

It seems counter-intuitive. Many marketers are trained to focus on the number of email subscribers as a golden metric; the higher the number of subscribers the better.

If you’re a director of marketing, don’t fall into this trap. Don’t measure the wrong things. When you measure the wrong things, you produce the wrong results.

Unsubscribes are healthy. Let’s dive into two reasons why unsubscribes are good for your business and what you can do to keep your list strong and engaged.

Why Unsubscribes Are Good For Your Business

Unsubscribers weren’t interested in buying from you. Maybe they didn’t like what you were sending. Maybe they don’t like you.

Perhaps they like what you sell but aren’t ready to buy it yet or have no need of it. For example, a one-person small business has no need for an enterprise-grade software security scanner. It’s the wrong fit.

Sometimes, people just get tired of a million emails coming into their inbox every day and want to thin it out. I’ve done this many times myself and it’s not personal.

You want your list to be full of engaged subscribers who want to buy from you. When those on your list unsubscribe, they’re telling you they’re not interested. And that’s okay.

Business works by creating a specific product that fits a specific need for a specific audience. Focus on those for whom your product is a good fit.

An email list full of disengaged people wastes your money. Many email systems charge based on the number of subscribers. A large number of unengaged subscribers costs you more to send emails and hurts your results. Cutting down on the list will save money and increase engagement metrics like open and click-through rates.

Unsubscribes are the self-cleaning feature of your email list and will keep it full of people who want to hear from you.

Periodically Ask For People to Unsubscribe

It may seem crazy, but many successful entrepreneurs actively ask email subscribers to unsubscribe from their list.

This technique isn’t for everyone, but asking for those who aren’t into your way of doing business or your philosophy to unsubscribe saves you money and helps keep your list limited to your real audience.

Two great examples of this technique are Ryan Lee and Mike Shreeve. Both have million-dollar businesses. I’ve received emails from both asking for people to unsubscribe if they don’t believe the same things.

On May 21, 2019, Ryan Lee sent an email to his list with the subject line, “You’ll probably unsubscribe today.” In the email, he clearly lays down his philosophy on how to build your business and acknowledges that some readers will unsubscribe.

He’s okay with that. He doesn’t want people on his list who waste his time and money and don’t 100% agree with the way he does things.

Regularly Purge Your Email List

Caring for bonsai trees is a hobby many enjoy. A key discipline in their care is the pruning of branches to create and maintain their shape.

You should prune your email list so you can shape it to fit the goals of your business.

Some subscribers aren’t really interested in what you offer but won’t take the action of removing themselves from your list. This behavior leads to bloated lists that cost more money to operate.

It’s important to purge your email list of these dormant subscribers on a regular basis. Your open rates will be much better when those who aren’t interested are off of your list.

Here’s how to purge your email list:

  1. Use your email service provider to find and tag any subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in the past 3-6 months (depending on how often you decide to purge).
  2. Send a broadcast only to those dormant subscribers. Remind them of why they’re on your list and mention that they haven’t been reading your emails.
  3. Include a link in the email that subscribers can click if they want to stay on your list. Tell them that in one week they will be removed if they don’t click the link.
  4. In the email service provider, remove the “dormant” tag from those who click the link.
  5. After a week, archive or delete all subscribers from the original group who haven’t clicked the link.

Housekeeping on your email list a couple of times a year will keep your list full of engaged subscribers who believe what you believe and respect your work. You’ll save money and see better results from a clean, engaged list.

Don’t Sweat Every Unsubscribe

Entrepreneurs who are new to running email lists can take unsubscribes personally. It can feel like a rejection of you as a person.

Remember that unsubscribes are healthy and natural. While there are ways of keeping unsubscribes under control, worrying about every unsubscribe will blind you to the great opportunity they present.

Quality is better than quantity. A large number of unengaged subscribers does not equal more money. Even a small list of highly engaged subscribers will lead to positive ROI from your email list and provides the foundation for a strong source of revenue.

Embrace unsubscribes, regularly purge disengaged subscribers, and pruning your email list will help to encourage the right kind of growth for your business.