What is Email Unsubscribe Rate? 7+ Actionable Tips To Reduce it in 2022

Ammar Mazhar
Ammar Mazhar

Last updated on

December 5, 2022

Benjamin Franklin once said, “The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.” But in the case of email marketing, there is only one certainty: unsubscribe rate.

Any email marketer worth his salt knows that unsubscriptions are inevitable. Some people will find your emails to be worth their time, and others will only consider them annoying, and thus, they unsubscribe from the email list. Therefore, it is worth taking the unsubscribe rates with a pinch of salt.

But a high rate of unsubscribes is a worrying sign. Not only a high unsubscribe rate can result in a diminished sender reputation score, but it can also lower email deliverability rates.

But there are ways to overcome and reduce soaring unsubscribe rates, and this blog outlines all the best practices that can help you in reducing your unsubscribe rates.

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What is email unsubscribe rate?

The email unsubscribe rate is the percentage of users who have opted out of an email list after an email campaign. A spike in this number is indicative of whether or not your email campaign is working.

The unsubscribe rate is a double edge sword. While it can be a cause for concern for marketers, it also has a silver lining.

The silver lining to unsubscribe rate

Unsubscribe rates can be a blessing in disguise; that’s right, you read it right! The reason why you, as an email marketer, should be glad that your unsubscribe rate increased is because it can be a sign that your email list is cleaning itself.

This can leave you with a healthy list. And if you maintain this email list hygiene, you can effectively control the email unsubscribe rate in the future. But expecting a 0% unsubscribe rate is unrealistic.

Yes, it is hard to see subscribers ignore all the engaging content you have worked so hard to bring to them. But it can be a great payoff that now your emails will only be read by those subscribers who are genuinely interested in what you offer. Therefore, you should expect some email list churn when you send your email campaign.

How to calculate the unsubscribe rate?

Calculating the unsubscribe rate is pretty straightforward. Just divide the total number of unsubscribes by the total number of subscribers. The number you get is the percentage of unsubscribes.

Let’s say that you send 5000 emails. 5 of your subscribers unsubscribe from the list. Therefore, the unsubscribe rate comes out to be 0.1%.

So the formula of calculating the unsubscribe rate is:

Email unsubscribe rate formula

But calculating only the email unsubscribe rate isn’t going to bring you the bigger picture of how your email campaigns are doing. You have to measure other email marketing metrics as well, such as email open rate, email bounce rate, and email click-through rates, to determine the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns. 

Unsubscribe rates across industries

Unsubscribe rates vary across industries. Therefore, the best way to gauge the adequacy of your campaigns is to look at your industry's average unsubscribe rates.

Here are unsubscribe rates of some of the industries taken from Mailchimp:

  1. Agriculture and Food services: 0.25%
  2. Architecture and Construction: 0.32%
  3. Beauty and Personal Care: 0.30%
  4. Business and Finance: 0.20%
  5. Computer and Electronics: 0.27%
  6. Creative Services/Agency: 0.35%
  7. eCommerce: 0.27%
  8. Entertainment and Events: 0.26%
  9. Government: 0.13%
  10. Health and Fitness: 0.40%
  11. Marketing and Advertising: 0.27%
  12. Media and Publishing: 0.12%
  13. Real Estate: 0.27%
  14. Software and Web Applications: 0.37%
  15. Travel and Transportation: 0.24%

From the above information, the average unsubscribe rate across these industries is 0.26%. 

What is a good unsubscribe rate?

As per SmartInsights, a normal unsubscribe rate is 0.5%. While an unsubscribe rate of 0.2% or below is considered excellent. So, if your unsubscribe rate falls between 0.17% and 0.2%, then it suggests that your email list only consists of interested unsubscribers. 

Newly generated email lists tend to have high unsubscribe rates. It shouldn’t be a cause for concern. It’s because it takes time for people to decide whether or not they want to build a relationship with your brand. And some subscribers might not get used to your way of communicating with them. Therefore, some people will unsubscribe from your email list, thus, sending your unsubscribe rate soaring.

But once your email list is settled, then you will see a drop in the unsubscribe rate because only those people will remain subscribed who want to communicate with your brand.

4 Reasons for high unsubscribe rates

If your unsubscribe rate keeps above 0.5% or near to 1%, then the following factors might be the reasons for such a high unsubscribe rate:

4 Reasons for high unsubscribe rates

1. Email fatigue

Email fatigue is when a subscriber starts to feel overwhelmed by your emails and, therefore, lowers or completely stops engagement with your emails. But if you persist in sending them emails, they might unsubscribe from your email list or mark your emails as spam, thus, affecting your email deliverability.

The major role in causing email fatigue is the sending frequency of your emails. According to Hubspot, 51% of subscribers unsubscribe because of the high frequency with which they receive emails. 

The best way to avoid email fatigue is to look at the average email frequency of your industry and, thus, come up with an email cadence that brings maximum gains for your email marketing campaigns.

2. Irrelevant content

Sending irrelevant content is also a major factor in increasing unsubscribe rates. These days, people don’t have the time to read emails that don’t interest or entice them. Therefore, sending personalized emails is the only way to preempt high unsubscribe rates. 

Use the data provided by the subscribers while interacting with your emails, website, sales funnels, or while making previous purchases. Send automated emails to subscribers at every sales funnel stage to facilitate them.

3. No understanding of buyer’s cycles

Understanding the buyer cycles is crucial as it can help increase sales/renewals and lower unsubscribe rates. A typical buyer’s cycle looks like this:

  • Awareness 
  • Discover
  • Consideration
  • Convert

The fourth stage of the cycle, in the case of eCommerce products, can occur in a short period. Therefore, you should have an email ready to go out as soon as the buyer makes a purchase such as a confirmation and a thank you email.

Moreover, make sure that your emails follow a logical sequence. If the buyer is still in the awareness stage, and you send them emails laden with offers or discounts, then you can seem to the buyer as an aggressive marketer trying to impose your product or service upon them. 

Thus, an email drip campaign is the most effective and logical way to streamline your email cadence. You can use drip emails to control buyers on how and when they want to engage with your emails.

4. Limited or no segmentation

An email list that isn’t segmented, or has limited segmentation, has all kinds of subscribers in it, even those who aren’t interested in receiving emails from you. These subscribers, sooner or later, will unsubscribe from the list, increasing the unsubscribe rate. 

You should ensure email list hygiene by removing inactive subscribers and segmenting your emails based on interest, demographics, gender, country, etc. It will ensure that your emails are received by only those genuinely interested in receiving them.

9 Tips for reducing unsubscribe rate

So far, you have learned what an email unsubscribe rate is and the most common reasons for it being high. Now, it is time for your to know the tips to reduce it to an acceptable level.

9 Tips for reducing unsubscribe rate

1. Implement a single or a double opt-in strategy

Seeking permission to send emails is an effective strategy for reducing unsubscribe rates, as only those who are interested will subscribe to the list.

Single and double opt-in forms can be effective in implementing the strategy. Moreover, the CAN-SPAM act makes it necessary for email marketers to opt-in users before sending them emails.

2. Segment subscribers

As the five fingers of a hand aren’t equal, thus, no two subscribers are equal. They might have different interests and preferences. Therefore, it is crucial to segment the subscribers based on their interests, gender, demographics, and any segmentation factors that come to mind. It helps in creating a more focused and targeted email list.

Make sure that you define at least two conditions for defining your segments. These conditions could range from past purchase history, purchase frequency, demographics, abandoned cart history, or any other condition.

By creating a targeted email list, you can personalize the emails more effectively and ensure increased subscriber engagement.

3. Enticing subject lines are the key

Now, everything's ready. You have asked subscribers’ permission to send them emails and designed and written them, but you get stuck on the subject lines. “What should I write that compels them to open my email?” You think. But even after thinking for so long, you cannot come up with an idea. Frustrating, isn’t it? Not a great feeling to have, I know.

Subject lines are the first thing that a recipient sees. 69% of the recipients mark emails as spam after just reading the subject line. Therefore, ignoring the subject line is akin to committing a grave mistake.

The best subject lines are those that look and read as if a human has written them. Get personal in the subject line and use the recipient’s name. For example, “John, We Need To Talk.” Make sure you write your subject lines in the title case.

Moreover, according to Invespcro, subject lines that have 6-10 words have the highest open rate. Also, you can include emojis as well, but don’t overuse them as they can0 make your subject line look unprofessional.

4. Ensure content relevancy

Sending out relevant content is the next important step. A thoroughly planned content strategy can help guide a buyer through the buyer’s cycle. Here are a few things you can do to plan your content:

How to send relevant content

4.1) Define a goal

Like all things in life, your emails should have a goal. What do you want to achieve with this email? It should be the question you ask yourself before crafting the email. Whether your goal is to guide or educate the customer or to increase sales, your goal should be perfectly reflected in your email.

This email from Blurb, a self-publishing company, is a perfect example of how to define a goal. The email clarifies the goal: increase sales by offering a 35% discount on photo books.

Define a goal: Blurbs example

4.2) Choose who to send

The next step is to determine to who to send your emails. The best way to do this is to have a highly segmented email list of contacts who are interested in hearing from you. Also, with careful segmentation, you can mitigate the risk of unsubscription.

4.3) Personalize the message

A personalized email is less likely to be reported as spam by the recipient. Start with the subject line and add your recipient's name to it. Furthermore, provide offers using data provided by the customers on first subscribing to your email list. This data could be used in sending out cart abandonment emails as well.

Also, make sure your content is formatted correctly. 70% of mobile readers delete emails that aren’t correctly formatted in three seconds of them opening them.

Look how well Jack Wills, an apparel store and fashion store, has crafted a cart abandonment email. In the email, the recipient is mentioned by his name and is being reminded of his abandoned cart.

Personalize the message: Jack Wills example

4.4) Send a variety of content

Don’t bore your audience by sending the same old content. Create and manage a content calendar to help keep track of your content. This will help you track what kind of content you have already sent and what is next. 

Start by sending welcome emails followed by informational content, such as an ebook, that acclimatizes the recipient with your brand and establishes you as an authority in the industry. Afterward, send promotional emails that entice the reader into taking action. 

Thus, keep your recipients engaged with your content, and they will remain your subscriber for a long time.

5. Have a good email sending frequency

If your subscribers don’t hear from your often, there is a high chance that they will unsubscribe from your mailing lists. Therefore, don’t shy away from sending emails at a consistent rate. Make sure your subscribers hear from you at least twice a month. 

After building a good relationship with them, you can increase send emails weekly. And, if you have multiple offers or great content, you can send emails twice or thrice a week.

6. Make emails mobile-friendly

As more than 50% of email campaigns are opened on mobile, thus, not having a mobile-optimized email can disgruntle your recipients and increase the likelihood of them unsubscribing. Here are a few tips for making your emails mobile-friendly:

How to make emails mobile-friendly?

6.1) Enlarge the fonts

Don’t use tiny fonts, as it can deter readers from engaging with your emails. Keep the header to 22-28 pixels. The font of the body text should be kept between 14-18 pixels with a line alignment of 1.4 or 1.5.  

By keeping the font size between 14-18 pixels, you can account for variations in font display across various email clients.

6.2) Keep content short & crisp

Stick to just what you have to say. Don’t add fluff or filler words. Also, ensure that what you are claiming is accurate. Don’t exaggerate your brand more than what it is. 

And if images and infographics to better guide the recipient about your brand.

6.3) Make the CTAs touch-friendly

Make it easy for your recipients to take action, after reading your email, by making the call-to-action buttons touch-friendly. Use contrasting colors to make the CTA button visible. Also, ensure that the CTA is interactive and is placed where it is easily visible, i.e., at the header or the footer of the email.

6.4) Optimize the images

Slow loading images can frustrate the recipient, resulting in them deleting your email or unsubscribing from your mailing list. Also, slow loading images can trigger spam filters. Therefore, it is recommended that you keep the image width at 600 pixels maximum.

Convert your images to PNG file format as PNG provides better quality. But it can increase the size of your image. Thus, use a reliable compression tool to reduce the file size but ensure the quality loss isn’t substantial.

7. Incentivize the subscriber

Offering incentives to subscribers can keep them engaged with your emails. It is also a way to make your subscribers feel special and cared about. Moreover, offering frequent incentives can keep your subscribers loyal to your brand.

The best way to offer an incentive is to gamify the offer. This can be done using  spinwheels or any other gamification element.

Pizza Hut does an incredible job of gamifying its emails to provide incentives to its customers. They used a slot machine concept to offer 10-15% discounts on their orders.

Incentivize the subscriber: Pizza Huts example

8. Send reactivation emails

Try one last time to bring your dormant subscribers to the fold by sending them reactivation emails. Include offers that are tempting and hard to resist. Also, illustrate why the recipient chose to subscribe in the first place.

See this example from Sephora, a skincare company. It has offered all the unsubscribing customers a 15% reward card to entice them back.

Send reactivation emails: Sephora's example

9. Ask for feedback

If everything fails and your recipients unsubscribe from your mailing list regardless of your efforts, then get feedback from them on why they are unsubscribing. This can help you fine-tune your strategy.

An automated email should go out whenever a subscriber unsubscribes from an email list asking him to provide feedback.

Track and improve email unsubscribe rates with Mailmunch!

Email unsubscribe rate is an inexorable part of email marketing campaigns. But they are neither good nor bad; on the one hand, they indicate that your something is wrong with your campaign, and on the other hand, they help clean your email lists. 

Thus, it is a necessary evil every email marketer must accept. But by incorporating the tips mentioned in this blog and keeping track of your unsubscribe rate, you can ensure that your unsubscribe rate never goes out of hand.

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Author Bio

Ammar Mazhar

A voracious reader and a music lover, Ammar has been writing engaging and informative content for over 2 years for B2B and B2C markets. With a knack for writing SEO-optimized content, Ammar makes sure that the results speak for themselves.

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