Ultimate Guide to Reducing Unsubscribe Rate in Email Marketing

This article discusses everything you need to know about unsubscribe rate along with some tips to reduce your unsubscribe rate to have a successful email marketing campaign.


Before we solve the riddle of unsubscription rate, let’s first dive into the world of email, its function and advantage in marketing. Only when we understand the role of email in marketing can we comprehend the term email unsubscription rate in marketing. An email has become one the most proven ways of expanding business and reaching out to vast numbers of prospective and steady clients/customers. It is now a highly effective tool to communicate and reach out to targeted audiences in the most sophisticated way possible. 

In due course of time, the purpose of the email in doing business got diverse and now it offers a good number of opportunities. Its different roles like as Newsletter, Lead nurturing, Promotional, Milestone, and survey emails have facilitated the growth of the business both at a personal and professional level. For being, the email subscription method was introduced. The business owner, as well as individuals establishing personal brands, use this platform as a plugin to connect with billions of customers on the web, to generate leads, to send automated new updates & blog post notifications, to engage and interact with their audience, quickly create and send broadcast, stay connected with existing subscribers, to establish a long term rapport with clients, so on and so forth. 

The email subscription method in marketing is purely created to cater to the needs of growing numbers of regular bloggers, website owners, marketers, developers, and any business to expand. The clients or customer or just an individual subscribe to any entity for regular updates as per their need and aspirations. These people in the long run or for some other reason may choose to unsubscribe and from here the concept of unsubscription rate is derived.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is the Email Unsubscribe Rate
  3. How to decrease your Unsubscribe Rate
  4. How Does Unsubscribe Rate Affect Other Metrics
  5. What does a high unsubscribe rate mean for your account
  6. Conclusion

What is the Email Unsubscribe Rate?

Unsubscribing is the inverse of subscribing. Subscribing is an option to get regular access to a particular service offered by any business entity or an individual. The people who opt-out for any such service to gain access as per their preferences known as subscribers means they have subscribed as a customer or client or just as an individual to the company’s newsletter, product/service-related blog posts, press releases, regular updates, advance information, etc. Once the customer subscribes they receive regular automated emails. 

This subscription-based modal can be either free or paid depending on the nature of the service provider. Email subscription has become the intrinsic part and starting point for any email marketing strategy. Now as you have understood the concept of subscription it will be easy for you to grasp the theory of unsubscribing rate. As the people get the option to subscribe to any service they also get an option to unsubscribe once they subscribed. People generally unsubscribe to any service if they find it unnecessary or non-standard. 

To unsubscribe clearly says to stop receiving any further emails or communications. Every email campaign is obliged to provide an option to unsubscribe at any point in time. The unsubscribe rate is nothing but a metric to measure the percentage of subscribers who have opted out from an email list. For example, let's assume that one out of a hundred subscribers opt-out to receive any email, so our email unsubscribe rate will be 1% i.e. one subscriber out of a hundred has unsubscribed to the service. Unsubscribing is a way of auto-cleaning your mailing list that is removing unengaged people from communication. 

However, an increase in the number of unsubscribers is sure to bring damage to your business. The unsubscribe rate percentage can be calculated by dividing the number of people who unsubscribed by the number of emails delivered times a hundred (Unsubscribed number/Emails delivered x 100 = Unsubscribed rate %). A high unsubscribe rate indicates that some elements of your strategy have gaps and you need to take a closer look at your email campaigns. Perhaps the email sending volume is too high, the content is irrelevant to users’ expectations, or your email templates look unprofessional and outdated.

How to Decrease your Unsubscribe Rate:

A high unsubscribe rate is no good sign for your business. So how do you stop people from unsubscribing or at least decrease your unsubscription rate? Before you think of decreasing the unsubscribe rate, take a look at the reasons for unsubscription and contemplate existing practices. To make sure that your current way of handling email marketing is appropriate take some ideas from the following strategies:

  • Make it Easy to Subscribe: 
Opt-in Example

Using embedded or a pop-up subscription form on your site/blog with a clear CTA is a place to start.

  • Use Lead Magnets: 
Lead Magnet Example

The lead magnet, also known as an incentive, is a great way to motivate your customers to share their personal information.

  • Use Triggered Emails: 
Automated Trigger Email by Adidas

Emails sent to your clients are triggered by their actions. Registration — welcome email, purchase — ‘people also buy’ email, client leaves a shopping cart — abandoned cart email, etc. Automation 360 by SendPulse offers functionality and simplicity in one bundle.

  • Go with Double Opt-In: 
Double-opt in Example

It’s a sure way to have a good mailing list that consists of an engaged audience.

  • Consider Drip Campaigns:
MuxEmail Drip Campaign

Lead your prospective customers down the sales funnel with carefully designed sets of emails sent at a specific time. Segment them to meet each subscriber's needs. Check out this article to learn more about Drip Email Marketing Campaigns.

  • Run Tests and Make Changes: 

A/B tests are a great way to see which email works best.

  • Take the Sender’s Name and Subject Line Seriously: 
Subject Line Example

Make your sender name recognizable and personalize a subject line for better email open rates.

To learn more about optimizing subject line to grab your recpients attention, check out this article.

  • Be Mobile-Friendly: 
Responsive Design Example

Use responsive sign-up forms since many people use their smartphones or tablets to consume content on the internet.

Some More Tips to Decrease the Unsubscribe Rate:

  • Keep Your Mailing List Updated: 

Ensure you’re only communicating with people who agreed to receive emails from you and continuously top up your list with fresh leads. New subscribers are typically more engaged and more eager to indulge in special offers.

  • A/B Test Email Frequency and Time: 

It is crucial to form certain habits that become routine by regularly sending your emails at certain times. A/B tests can help you optimize the frequency, content, and style of your emails to achieve the best performance.

  • Create Value: 

One spammy email can cause a huge spike in your unsubscribe rates and damage your brand. Always aim to provide valuable, unique content to your subscribers that will earn their trust and respect, and the sales will follow.

  • Optimize for Mobile: 

As email opens on mobile are skyrocketing, considering mobile devices early in the design process will help you reduce the unsubscribe rate and tap into a huge trend that shows no signs of diminishing.

  • Keep the Unsubscribe Link Visible: 

Subscribers should always have an option to opt out from a mailing list if they no longer wish to receive emails from you. By making the unsubscribe link visible and accessible, you’ll avoid spam complaints and maintain a positive image of your brand. It’s not unusual for subscribers to come back after some time, so let them go on good terms.

How Does Unsubscribe Rate Affect Other Metrics?

The very existence of any business depends on the customer. The subscribers are also like regular customers and if they choose not to be so, we can understand that business has taken a downward route. As the unsubscribe rate goes high the responsibility of marketers grows. It is a sign that the company is lacking somewhere in keeping up with the changing time. As you have seen that the unsubscribe rate affects the number of customers connected with a company, we can say that it affects almost all other metrics of a service provider. Let’s see some reasons that are affecting the unsubscribe rate. 

  • You send emails far too often: This is the most common reason for unsubscribing. Reduce the frequency of your newsletters or offer them for several subject areas. In some cases, it’s possible to let the subscribers decide upon the newsletter frequency.
  • Irrelevant content: Your subscribers are not interested in what you have to say. If the overall unsubscribe rate is not too high, this only applies to some of your recipients. Get to know your target group better and tailor your newsletters to their needs.
  • Too many emails, too little time to read: This is a common reason and has nothing to do with the quality of your newsletters – sometimes, subscribers simply don’t want to be reminded of what they are missing and unsubscribe. There’s nothing you can do about this; the subscriber generally wants to reduce their number of emails.
  • The subscriber forgot who you are: this often happens to senders who don’t send regular newsletters. Increase the delivery frequency and tell your recipients why they are receiving your emails.

What Does a High Unsubscribe Rate Mean for Your Account?

The unsubscribe rate below 0.5% is generally considered to be normal as per the industry standard. And below 0.2% is known to be excellent. It has also been found that the unsubscribe rate for newly created mailing lists remains high because people take some time to decide whether to continue any service or not. A high unsubscribe rate indicates you are not truly understanding the needs of customers and optimizing accordingly. As the rate goes above 0.5% you should rethink the existing practice and make changes considering the feedback of the customers.

Tips on How to Avoid Being Unsubscribed:

  • Include numbers in the subject line: A compelling subject line should include numbers rather than words. For example, write the best 5(not five) books on finance.
  • New subscribers: They shouldn’t get the same messages your old subscribers receive. Send them new messages and campaigns that are tailored for new subscribers.
  • Personalization: Every guide and article on email KPI optimization will mention personalization as a must-have step in your email. And that’s not changing any time soon – 88% of users agree they are more likely to respond to an email favorably if it looks like it’s been specifically created for them. However, personalization doesn’t just come in the form of a recipient’s name – it can be any information you have about your prospect, like their job position, important events in their life, a milestone in your service, and so much more. 
  • Add an email preheader: Add a persuading and informative preheader so that subscribers can’t resist themselves from going through it.
  • Use the name of subscribers in the email: Everyone loves to hear or read their name, so always address each subscriber with their name. This helps in establishing a long-lasting relationship.
  • Birthday: Subscribers’ birthdays are important days of their lives. They’ll value you more if you recognize and celebrate their birthdays with them.
  • Treat your subscribers to exclusive offers: Make your readers feel special and valued with exclusive discounts. Or maybe give them early access to your sales.
  • Use only relevant pieces of information: Be clear on the needs of subscribers and deliver relevant, interesting content to your subscribers to keep them engaged and coming back for more. Try to avoid sounding too “salesy” in all of your emails, as this can quickly put someone off.
  • Provide options to share: Give them a simple and easy-to-go option to share on different media.
  • Purchase history: Use your subscribers’ purchase history with your business to offer them targeted up-sells or cross-sells.
  • Use a single-column template to guide you: If you use single-column templates as guides in creating your email, you’ll end up with a simple and effective design. That’s something you want for mobile.
  • Ensure your CTA stands out: If your CTA button is too small, your subscriber might not see it on the small screen. If they do see it, they might not be able to click on it. Choose a color that will make your CTA pop out.
  • Email frequency: Email marketing should always be about quality over quantity. That said, who doesn’t want to be the first email greeting the recipient in their Inbox in the morning. 
  • Segmentation: is a must in any marketing campaign and is especially relevant for channels as personal as email. Split your audience into as many groups as possible using parameters like preferences & needs, the topic of interests, locations, etc.
  • Mobile optimization: According to a survey by Adobe, 81% of emails are checked on mobile devices, which is why mobile optimization is now a key element of any email campaign. After all, if an email never displays correctly, what’s the point of staying subscribed?
  • Avoid email fatigue: constantly sending emails to your email list can result in email fatigue causing them to unsubscribe from your overzealous marketing trigger finger. However, there isn't a rule that says: You can only send 1 email per week to your email list. It varies from industry to industry. Having said that, however, most people do not mind receiving emails every day if the email content is good. 
  • Don’t send it too often: Ask them how often they would like to receive it. It can be daily, weekly, or as per available options. Sending too often may irritate them. 
  • Don’t take a long gap: They subscribe only when they need it so don’t take a long gap between two emails. It may diverge their attention and preference to your competitors.
  • Ask for feedback: Don’t give up too easily when someone clicks the unsubscribe button. It’s not over until it’s over. You still have a chance to win them back. However, you need to ask them back right away. A feedback option on your unsubscribe page can help increase retention.


The sole purpose of email marketing is to expand your business and reach out to millions of customers looking for different services. The email subscription method is the most appropriate way to establish a connection and maintain it for a long time. However, to carry on in this direction is to also understand the other way around i.e. not only how many customers are subscribing to your service but also how many of them are opting out that is unsubscribing. 

Once you understand the reason thoroughly then indulge in the above-mentioned practices to make sure that the growth of your business never slows down. Keeping an eye on the customers’ attitude towards subscription, their needs & preferences, and comfort can help the service provider to stay updated and keep optimizing as per the recent developments. 

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