Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Unsubscribes

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An opt-in email list is a key pillar of email marketing. 

Readers who subscribe permit you to send interesting, engaging content to them, and successful email marketing involves sending consistent emails. 


Because nurturing the relationship you have with your readers by popping up in their inbox means you can build their trust and eventually win their business.

It’s no surprise then, that a common worry among my clients is their fear of unsubscribes. 

They are terrified of pestering their readers. Not only do unsubscribes feel like a rejection, surely they also equate to less business?



Unsubscribes are a healthy part of email marketing and should be expected – even welcomed – because they help you keep a clean list. 

Let’s explore further.

Why People Unsubscribe From You

People might unsubscribe from your list because… 

You can’t please everyone. And that’s OK.

Why Unsubscribes Don't Matter

Every unsubscribe increases the quality of your list by one. 

They left because they weren’t your target audience. 

A strong email list should be full of the right people. People who:

Unsubscribers were never prospective clients or customers. And long lists don’t get you more business. You can read more about this in my recent blog post.

It’s as simple as that.

The Downsides Of A Dirty List

A list full of the wrong people is what we call a ‘dirty’ list. 

You want these people to unsubscribe. Low quality subscribers engage far less, if at all, with your emails, and this is a BIG problem. 


Because high email engagement is the backbone of email deliverability. 

Email deliverability refers to whether an email ends up where it’s supposed to – in the recipient’s inbox. Low engagement from your email list tells your email service provider that your content is rubbish and you’re not credible. 

In short. A dirty list = low engagement = low deliverability = bad for business.

What To Do About Unsubscribes

A slow trickle of unsubscribes is normal and helpful. A self-cleaning list is less work for you – hooray! 

So don’t panic. Pay little attention to the unsubscribes. 

Instead, strive to put effort into maintaining your list as normal. You can nurture your subscribers and avoid unnecessary unsubscribes by:

You can read more on avoiding unsubscribes here. But most of all, just don’t worry about them.


When To Worry About Unsubscribes

If your unsubscribe rate jumps from 1% to 20%, you need to start paying attention.

Spikes in the numbers mean something’s wrong and it’s time for some detective work. Here are some prompts to consider:

Take some time, identify the likely source, rectify the mistake and Do. Not. Repeat.

It's Nothing Personal

As long as your unsubscribe rate is low and stable, you’ve got nothing to worry about. 

They don’t feel great, it’s true. But they’re part of maintaining a healthy opt-in list. Unsubscribes are simply something you need to get used to.

In the meantime, make sure your handle on your target audience is strong so that your messaging hits home with the right people.

If you’re clear on their hopes and fears, your content can be tailored to meet their needs and solve their problems. And they’ll buy from you.

Noticed a recent spike in your unsub rate? Not sure how to clean up your list? Book a call with me and we’ll take it step by step to get you marketing smarter.

Nathan Littleton

Nathan Littleton

Nathan Littleton is a marketer, professional speaker and author who specialises in helping businesses to grow by attracting and winning more customers. Each year he sends more than a million emails on behalf of his clients, and his proven track record has led to him working with leading brands including Microsoft, Virgin Care and the BBC. Having started his first business, building websites from his bedroom at the age of just 12, he quickly built a reputation for his unique take on email marketing and growing businesses by sending truly un-deletable emails.

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