Why You Should Welcome Email UnsubscribesBuilding an email marketing list is hard work, right? Look at almost any marketing blog on the web today and you’ll find countless tips to build your email list. The idea is that your company will somehow benefit from a larger list.

What I’d contend, though, is that a large email list isn’t what matters most. What really matters is having a list of engaged people who want to receive your messages. A small list of highly engaged people will benefit your business more.

Still, marketing managers are concerned with email unsubscribes. When they share metrics with management, email unsubscribes comes up as a negative.

So should you really be concerned when your contacts unsubscribe from your emails?

I’d say, “no.” Here’s why.

We send out our blog posts by email on average twice per week. There are weeks where some of our list members get up to 3 emails. Some may cringe, thinking that's too frequent. And for people that don't want to read about what we're writing about, well, it probably is too frequent.

Here’s why I don't lose sleep when I see an unsubscribe to our email list.

A few weeks ago, I did an analysis of who has unsubscribed from our email list over the past two years. What did I find?

  • Very rarely are the people that unsubscribed from our email list someone who would want to do business with us. We realize that we can’t help every business redesign their website or help with their online marketing.
  • Because we freely offer advice online in various downloadable formats, people download those offers -- even folks that may never do business with us. For instance, many other marketing and web design agencies download our content, and it's natural that they might unsubscribe later.
  • Even qualified potential customers that join our list may decide to work with other companies, and may no longer be in need of information we may send. Their "buyer's journey" has ended.

As a business, you want people on your email list that are interested in what you have to say. When people are no longer interested, they cost you money when they remain on your email list.

You Should Still Look Into Your Email Unsubscribes

All of this is not to say that your unsubscribe rate doesn’t matter, or that you shouldn’t look into unsubscribes.

A high email unsubscribe rate is indicative of a problem with your messaging or your list segmentation. If “everybody is getting every message” then you’re going to see a high email unsubscribe rate.

After all, relevant emails drive 18x more revenue than broadcast emails according to Jupiter Research. Lead nurturing emails -- which should be highly personalized -- get 4 to 10 times the response rate compared to standalone email blasts as reported by a SilverPop/DemandGen Report.

When Should an Email Unsubscribe Concern You?

When you start to see qualified prospects unsubscribe, or people from companies you’ve identified as fitting into your customer personas unsubscribe, that's an indication that you've got a problem.

Maybe your content isn't as focused or helpful as it once was. Maybe you're communicating too often, or not often enough. Maybe your lists aren’t as segmented as they should be, so your messages aren't as relevant to those reading them.

No lead list or email subscriber list is perfect. You're a responsible marketer (and acting legally) when you allow people to join and unsubscribe freely. Let unqualified subscribers and those who may not need your communications anymore unsubscribe and you'll be left with a clean, qualified email marketing list.