Why email unsubscribes can actually be a good thing

McKenzie Gregory


It’s an email marketer’s worst fear.

You work hard – I mean hard – to get someone on your list. You draw them to your website, optimize your signup form, and create a compelling lead magnet to win them over. Then, after all the effort you put into welcoming and nurturing said prospect, they do the unthinkable… they unsubscribe.



Despite your completely valid reaction to this heinous act of betrayal, there’s a glimmer of hope for you yet: Unsubscribes can actually be a good thing.

I know it’s a crazy concept, but hear me out – here are a few silver linings to the dark cloud of email unsubscribes.


1. They keep your list full of qualified, engaged prospects.

Despite what many people (marketers especially) would like to believe, not every person wants or needs what your brand has to offer.

There’s also a chance that due to some sort of misunderstanding during the signup process, you gained a few subscribers who weren’t the right fit. Then, somewhere down the road, they realized you guys weren’t a match made in heaven… and that’s ok!

It’s much more worthwhile for you to spend time nurturing qualified prospects than to waste effort on folks who were never going to convert in the first place.


2. They can alert you to a problem with your email marketing.

After the initial sting of rejection begins to fade, really think about why your subscriber chose to unsubscribe. Have you gotten overzealous with your send frequency? Is your audience opening on mobile, but you aren’t – *gasp* – optimizing for the small screen? Is the content you’re sending simply not relevant to your subscriber’s interests?

Be brutally honest with yourself in these moments. That unsubscribe might just be the wake-up call you needed to do your best work.


3. They improve your reputation by NOT reporting you as spam.

Over the years, your audience’s concept of “spam” has changed. Rather than just flagging Viagra ads and business offers from Nigerian princes, they’ll report anything that doesn’t pass muster in the inbox.

Questionable-looking subject line? You’re done.
Sending too many offers? Say “sayonara."
Content not hitting the right notes? Hop off the bus, Gus.

So considering this evolving definition of spam, an unsubscribe can be a blessing in disguise. Sure, you may lose a member of your audience, but your sender reputation won’t suffer just because one person lost interest in what you had to say.


4. You can find out why they’re leaving.

One of the best parts of the unsubscribe process? You can elicit incredibly valuable feedback from the people you need to hear it from most.

With a little work on the back-end, you can automatically redirect subscribers who opt out to a quick “Where did we go wrong?" survey. Access to data like that is huge, and it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t squander just because your feelings are hurt.



What has your brand learned from unsubscribes? Share away in the comments!


About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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