what seriously makes people unsubscribe from your email list?

So you’re ready to send that newsletter out..

What Seriously Makes People Unsubscribe From Your Email List? #emailmarketing #internetmarketing #newsletters

You get excited for feedback.

Few hours later, you see a large spike in your unsubscribe rate.


You get sad. Feeling frustrated.

You ask yourself “Seriously, WHY?”

Well, you can never please everyone.

Getting email subscribers is easy but keeping them engaged is a different story.

If you’re consistently getting a really high unsubscribe rate every time you send out an email campaign or email newsletter, that’s telling you something.

You may need to re-evaluate your approach and determine why people unsubscribe to your list.

Chances are your content or the way you send them emails is turning people off.

Perhaps you may want to modify your email marketing strategy to keep your folks interested in what you have to say.

In this post, together with 20 awesome folks, you will learn why people disengage and what push them to click that “unsubscribe” button.

1. No Original Content

 Stuart W - NicheHacks
Stuart W.

“All I get is blog post notifications”

Personally I will unsubscribe from a list if there’s no original content and all I get is blog post notifications.

I don’t mind getting blog updates but there has to be something more to it as well otherwise I can just visit the blog when I’ve free time and remember, for me I don’t need to read the post as soon as it’s published.

Obviously promoting too hard or too often with no other value provided will get me to unsubscribe too. Especially if it’s clear the person has never actually used / bought the product and barely looked at it.

Which is why as a blogger and email marketer I will always buy (or get a review copy if possible) a product before promoting it. I like to know what I’m actually promoting to them. Stuart S. from NicheHacks.com – where he regularly revealed untapped niche markets and insider niche ‘hacks’.

 Chelsea Olivia
Chelsea O.

I unsubscribe when the newsletter doesn’t offer me something I can’t already find on the site (ie- nothing more than a recap of blog posts that week)

Chelsea Olivia from OliveAndIvyDesign.com

Too Many Emails

 Karol K
Karol K.

If I get emails too often. I know that some marketers like to think that, “If the advice is good enough, people will stick.” That may be true in some cases, but it’s also worth pointing out that sending an email, no matter how good, is always an interruption.

It’s a moment where the author says “Hey, stop what you’re doing and read this!” So even if the advice is great, over time the whole experience starts to get tiring and loses its perceived value. Karol K. from NewInternetOrder.com – a blogger and writer for hire.

Andrew M. Warner
Andrew W.

“Breaking their promise of how many emails they planned to send”

There are many reasons, actually, but the biggest reason that’ll expedite my choice to unsubscribe is if I start to receive a large number of emails from them. I understand that email marketing is important, but what I’m talking about is if they break their promise of how many emails they planned to send.

For example, A few years ago, I subscribed to a website called Early To Rise. It’s a website that’s writes inspirational stories and gives you practical advice about accomplishing your goals.

Anyway, it was really helpful to me in the early stages and I really enjoyed the emails I received from them. I remember, specifically, that they said, “Each weekday you’ll receive the Early to Rise email, full of proven action steps and powerful motivation for building your business, helping you boost your income, and showing you how to live a richer, fuller life.”

Some days I would receive 1 email and on other days I would receive up to 4 emails.


Who has time to really read that?

Well, due to various situations happening in my life, (vacation, family emergencies, etc) there were stretches that I couldn’t or didn’t access my email and the emails from ETR would build up. Now it’s to a point where there’s over 200 unread emails from them … and everyday I still received more.

So, I unsubscribed. It was just too much.

Trust is a hard thing to gain and if you tell your subscribers that you’re going to email them a specific amount of time, make sure you DON’T go over that. DON’T email them multiple times each day when you never told them that you might. People WILL unsubscribe because of that and probably start to trust you a little less as well.

Andrew M. Warner in Blogging & Internet Marketing Industry from ShadeOfInfo.com

 Stuart W - NicheHacks
Stuart W.

If they mail several times a day, every day, that’s enough to get me off quick. I can probably deal with once a day and occasionally twice if there’s a special reason for it but not every single day.

As an email marketer myself I notice people unsubscribe most often when I promote something even though I do deliver a lot of value too in the form of email exclusives, useful content and so on.

Stuart Walker in email marketing industry from NicheHacks.com

Too Much Promotion

Karol K
Karol K.

If the person sends only promotion. Getting one promotional email every 6-10 content-rich emails is more than fine.

But if every email contains a link to a product or to any other kind of action that the sender needs me to take, it’s too much. Karol K. from NewInternetOrder.com – a blogger and writer for hire. His work has been published all over the web, on sites like: Lifehack.org, Quick Sprout, ProBlogger, Bidsketch.com, Six Revisions, Web Design Ledger, and others.

 Caleb S
Caleb S.

“When I’m sold at..”

I mostly unsubscribe when I’m sold at. I did this yesterday with one well known British marketing entrepreneur. I’d thought, that due to his popularity, I should probably take notice of him.

But he bombarded me to the point, where I didn’t trust that his emails were going to be for my benefit. They were selly selly selly, and the ratio of sales emails to helpful content was skewiff.

It was too much ego and too much scarcity and it wasn’t even around a product launch he’d got me into. ‘Unless you buy in the next 24 hours, you’ll regret it for ever, your business is going to fail and your dog is going to die.’ So I hit ‘Unsubscribe’ with a big grin on my face.

Well…my business is still going great guns, and my dog Hope is still alive. Mind you- it’s only been 24 hours…..Hope, hope? Where are you hope?…
Caleb Storkey from CalebStorkey.com – they’re committed to help businesses sell successfully without them being chumps.

No Benefit

 Timo Kiander
Timo K.

“Used only as a promotion tool”

The biggest one is when the list provides no value.

This could happen if it’s used only as a promotion tool (affiliate offers) or the content doesn’t raise any interest in me.

Timo Kiander from ProductiveSuperDad.com

 Matthew Barby
Matthew B.

One of the main reasons that I unsubscribe from an email list is when I receive no extra value from it.

For example, with a number of blog newsletters that I subscribe to, I expect to get notified about any new content first, whilst also receiving any promotions that are completely relevant to my interest – if these expectations aren’t matched, I’m likely to unsubscribe.

Similarly, if I start receiving completely irrelevant information then it’s a huge no-no for me. All it takes is one random promotion that I’m not expecting for me to unsubscribe.

Matthew Barby, Digital Marketing Consultant, from MatthewBarby.com

 Sherryl Perry
Sherryl P.

“There’s nothing in it for me”

The main reason I unsubscribe from an email list is time.

I don’t have time to read long rambling emails that I don’t benefit from.

It’s not the best use of my time (and time is money). What it comes down to is “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me). Bring value to me in your emails or I unsubscribe.

When my inbox gets out of control, I quickly scan it to see if the emails that I’m subscribed to pass this quick four question test:

  • Do I actually read the emails from this subscription? Often, I find myself deleting emails without even reading them. My expectation is that I’m going to be disappointed and that I don’t have the “time” right now to check them out. This usually happens when I’ve started following a blogger who originally intrigued me and then failed to deliver.
  • Does this email contain original content that adds value? I subscribe to a handful of blogs where I have a personal connection with the blogger. I’m okay when they occasionally recommend a product that they’re an affiliate of. I am not okay with the constant barrage of spam from bloggers hawking products.

  • Does this person alert me to news that I need to know? For example, I appreciate hearing the latest news about security updates, obsolete WordPress plugins and opportunities to beta test products or get special offers. Even if I may not be personally affected by the news or want to take advantage of the opportunity, being one of the first to know gives me an edge. That edge gives me valuable content that I can share with my subscribers and followers.

  • Would I notice if I stopped getting emails from this person/company? For example, I depend on the weekly “Moz Top 10” to help me with my content curation. I’d miss those emails if I stopped receiving them. That one email saves me countless hours of time looking for articles where I can find material to research and blog about.

If I answer “No” to question one, I immediately unsubscribe. If I answer “Yes” to any of the remaining questions, I do nothing and move on.

If the subscription gets by question one but fails to get a “Yes” to any of the remaining questions, that subscription failed the test. I unsubscribe.

Bottom line, the content of the emails that I unsubscribe from fits someone else’s agenda – not mine. There’s nothing in it for me.

Sherryl Perry Internet Marketing & Business Consulting from KeepUpWithTheWeb.com

 Phillip Dews
Phillip D.

A very good question Pauline and one that really got me thinking! I imagine that a lot of bloggers here will say things similar to me! Over the years I have subscribed to many lists that bloggers have set up and have made a list of criteria that I strictly follow these days.

  • Does subscribing to a list benefit me in some way? Is it useful that I can utilise or is it inspirational that can help me blog better?
  • Do I like and rate the blogger and know that he or she will provide value in their newsletters?

  • Are the newsletters entertaining with interesting, valuable and with useful content that pique my interest!

  • Are the newsletters short and easily readable? I value my time.

  • Do they bombard my inbox day after day and hour after hour?

  • Do the titles stand out?

  • Is it easy to unsubscribe?

Lets take my list that I just started for example! I provide an incentive for bloggers to subscribe to my list by bribing them with the first 4 chapters of a book I am currently writing! Yep am bribing them, As long as the person gets value out of it then it’s all good.

I then thank them with a short email explaining that I feel like Pooh Bear. That is then it! Short and to the point! I also dont bombard my subscribers with an email everytime I publish a post or update a status on some social media site!

On top of this I make it easy for them to unsubscribe by providing a simple link at the bottom of every email newsletter I send out!

I personally think that if we as bloggers make it about our audience and help and provide value and inspiration then in turn we will become valuable and inspirational it’s the natural law of Karma.

Simple short emails that are entertaining and to the point with interesting titles are the way to go! Investing time and effort into how they look with graphics and images help as well!

That I think is it! It took me a while to set mine up as I use mailbird and mandrill that lets me send out a professional looking branded newsletter to up to 10,000 subscribers free each month.

But it’s really involved to set up with wordpress so time and patience is needed.

I may have to make a tutorial on it showing how to set it up! Oh and one more thing thats entered my mind! a branded email is a must.

Nothing come across as more unprofessional to me as a blogger with their own domain using gmail for their auto-responder when it’s really easy to set up one in cpanel even as a forwarder to a gmail account!
Phillip Dews in web designing & internet marketing industry from Brumdesign.Uk


 Emma Wilhelm
Emma W.

“It doesn’t move me!”

When a business or blogger consistently sends me content that doesn’t (1) move me, (2) provide super-useful information, or (3) offer me a great deal, I’m out. Checking email is boring.

I love emails that manage to perk me up, whether with an inspirational story or some really gorgeous product shots. Emma Wilhelm, product marketing manager at Mad Mimi from MadMimi.com

Andrea B.

“Your emails are all about you”

The quickest way to get me to unsubscribe is to turn my inbox into your “me space”.

The truth is emails are really a tool to spread our agenda, so there are two ways we can approach them.

We can make our agenda about ourselves (“me space”) OR we can make our agenda about others (“we space”).

Email marketing is an art, though not in the way most think. It’s not about stringing a series of words together in a formulaic way. It’s about creating meaningful conversations that elicit dialogue and connection.

It’s about speaking authentically in a way that will resonate with your readers and provide education, inspiration and/or entertainment. If it doesn’t accomplish at least one of these requirements you’re probably operating in the danger zone of “me space”.
Andrea ‘Dre’ Beltrami
from TheBrandedSolopreneur.com. Andrea help Solopreneurs create a vision for their voice through branding, design & visual strategies so they can stand out online and propel their social success.

 Demian Farnworth
Demian F.


My answer to your question: Boredom. 😀

Demian Farnworth
, Chief Copywriter for Copyblogger Media from TheCopyBot.com.

(This one’s obvious.) If the emails are mostly boring and don’t improve my day in any way. Karol K, Writer NewInternetOrder.com

Irrelevant Content

 Joel Klettke
Joel K.

“Emails that have NOTHING to do with what I wanted to know about”

I unsubscribe from email lists when irrelevance and frequency collide.

For example, I’ve been subscribed to the Moore’s email list for over two years now – maybe more! I stay subscribed because even though they email me almost daily, the content is about sales and information I actually want as a customer.

On the other hand, I recently had to unsubscribe from the mailing list of a major SaaS provider because they kept hitting me with messages that, as a writer, had NOTHING to do with what I wanted to know about. If you want people to stay subscribed to your e-mail list, don’t take a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Personalize your content; have subgroups within your email list and send only messages that matter to them. Not all your customers are the same, so don’t treat them that way.

Joel Klettke, from BusinessCasualCopywriting.com. Joel Klettke is a conversion-focused copywriter who used to do battle with Google as an SEO. Now, he helps smart companies create even smarter content that helps them make friends with money to spend.

Brittany Bullen
Brittany B.

It’s all about the subject line. If I don’t get a clear sense that the sender is offering me something relevant, interesting and valuable from their subject line, I might unsubscribe before I ever even read a single email.

Attention is at a premium these days and in many cases that first impression is your only opportunity to grab your audience’s interest. Your subject line is no place to be vague or boring. Offer value and maybe even some suspense and you’ll be in good shape.

Brittany is the blogger behind the Mommy Blogger Academy and the founder of the International Bloggers Association. Her freelancing company, NerdyGirl Writers, is helping her fulfill her dream of helping her peers make money online. Her book, Top 10 Secrets of Successful Mommy Bloggers, is available now on Amazon

 Bonnie A
Bonnie A.

“I can’t
stand one-way conversation”

Irrelevant content.

I don’t mind length, content or even upsells as long as the
content is relevant to why I subscribed to the list in the first place.

Add value for me, please! Make me feel like you’re listening. Give me a
reason to share your emails with colleagues, friends and family – know me,
what I need and what I want. Don’t be afraid to interact with me – I can’t
stand one-way conversation.

Most of all, send me content that keeps my mind sharp and engaged and you’ve got a subscriber for life!

Bonnie Andrews from HobbyToHot.com. Bonnie is your blog to business coach: spitfire, energizer bunny, no-nonsense, love to smile, git-r-done attitude. Come rock your blog with her.

 Reginald Chan
Reginald C.

For me, the biggest reason to unsubscribe from a mailing list is probably when it is not related.

For example, I would sign up for social media tips but if the sending is sending more emails on non social media tips, I would definitely unsubscribe from it.

So in short, the email must be highly related to what I had subscribed for.

Another reason I could think of is that there are just way too much emails! I don’t mind receiving two email a week but more than that it is really tiring!

I used to have the RSS-to-email feature and many of my subscribers were saying that it should be lesser. I ended up sending my newsletters only on every Thursday for recaps.

I would love to add that the above is highly related to your own niche. If you are running a coupon or technology news site, you may need to send more emails to keep your readers updated.

Reginald Chan from SocialMediaRush.com, a blog focusing in providing social media and digital marketing news. On a daily basis, he helps to de-mystify social media and online marketing for startups and small business owners.

Not Longer Learning Anything New

 Danny Inny
Danny I.

“I’m not longer learning anything”

I’m subscribed to a pretty wide variety of email lists, and for a variety of reasons – sometimes to keep up with colleagues, sometimes to learn from authorities, to get ideas or to keep up with what is going on in our space – but this kind of thing can quickly get out of hand. There are far more lists available then I have time to read, and I absolutely don’t want that level of clutter in my inbox, so I get pretty strict about cutting down and only remaining subscribed to the most valuable.

My cue to unsubscribe from an email list is when I find I’m not longer learning anything I need to be learning from them. If I open an email and just need to scan it to know what’s going on, then that’s not of great value to me, so I’ll unsubscribe if it happens too many times.

The content is really the main issue – email only becomes junk mail if the recipient doesn’t want to read it – I don’t mind frequent messages if they are all useful and valuable for one reason or another.

Danny Inny in Internet Marketing industry from FirePoleMarketing.com .

Caleb S.

“No are no longer scratching where I’m itching

If a content ‘need’ has come and gone and their emails or posts are no longer scratching where I’m itching, I’ll unsubscribe. If I really liked their writing, then I’ll sign up to their RSS feed and add them into my Feedly account. I can then share their content with others. After all credit where credits due
Caleb Storkey from CalebStorkey.com. They’re committed to help businesses sell successfully without them being chumps.

8. I’m Just Not That Into You

 Louise Julig
Louise J.

All email newsletters have some kind of personality, even if it is “no personality.” If I’ve signed up for a no-frills list of industry happenings, I know what I’m getting.

Most email newsletters probably aspire to something with a little more pizazz, though. And this is where you will either hook readers or turn them off. One of the main reasons why I unsubscribe from an email list is because I just don’t like the personality that comes through.

If after I read it I feel stressed, bad about myself, or uncomfortable in any way, I’m probably going to unsubscribe within several weeks if not sooner, even if the content is good. And that’s okay. Your newsletter will not serve everyone; you want to keep people that want to stay, and let them go if they’re just not that into you.

Louise Julig, a freelance writer and case study specialist
from LouiseJulig.com
– they’re committed to help businesses sell successfully without them being chumps.

Lack of Respect

 Kevin Duncan
Kevin D.

Forgive the Rodney Dangerfield and Aretha Franklin undertones, but RESPECT — or lack thereof — is the biggest reason I would unsubscribe from an email list. And I bet I’m not the only one.

Think about it. Too many emails? You’re not respecting my time. Won’t respond to my questions? You’re not respecting my needs. Sell my email address to third parties? You’re not respecting my ability to roundhouse kick you.

Treat your subscribers the way you like to be treated, and you’ll be golden.

It’s impossible to please everyone, but you’ll please most everyone if you follow this simple rule.

Or, don’t. More subscribers for me!

Plus it has to be answering a question I was looking for.

Kevin Duncan from BeABetterBlogger.com – where he motivates bloggers through wit, wisdom, and semi-clever anecdotes.

 Catherine Holt
Catherine H.

I don’t generally subscribe to a list unless I am really interested in the content of the site, so I don’t unsubscribe all too often.

However, there have been occasions when I have hit that unsubscribe button and the main reasons have been as follows.

  • Too Many emails saying there is a new post: Whilst I can certainly appreciate the value in being informed of a new post, it can be really frustrating to receive regular emails which only say “new post, check it out”. This kind of email has no value for me, and literally plugs up the account. If there is nothing of interest in the actual email then it doesn’t excite me to want to click through.

  • Emails are off topic:
    If I have signed up to an email list it is because I like the content of the site. It can therefore be frustrating if you are presented with a whole heap of emails that have nothing to do with the sites content. I have unsubscribed before when I have become confused as to where the mails are coming from. Every email must be relevant otherwise it’s out!

  • Too much promotion:
    You know those kind of emails that seem to be trying to sell you something each and every time. They are really off putting. If I consistently receive this kind of email I will eventually refrain from opening it which then eventually leads to unsubscribing. I don’t want to be ‘sold to’, every time I open an email.

Catherine Holt from BloggingTips101.com

 Elly Klein
Elly K.

To answer your question: What is the biggest reason that makes you unsubscribe from an email list?

There isn’t one big reason. There are a few reasons:

  • I never seem to get anything out of the content
  • I don’t have time to consume the content (even if it’s great)
  • The content isn’t that relevant to me at the moment / anymore
  • They email so frequently it’s overwhelming

Elly Klein from EllyKlein.com


As you may have read, most people unsubscribe because of boring and irrelevant content. So to keep your recipients happy and keep your unsubscribe rate as low as possible, you should:

  • Always deliver relevant content. Speak your target audience’s language. Make sure they relate to what you have to say.
  • Optimize the frequency of your emails. Don’t flood their inbox with too many emails per day.
  • Deliver what you promised.
  • Provide value in your messages. Be useful. Always provide helpful content.
  • Supply original content other than blog post notifications or what they already can see in your website.
  • Don’t make your emails all about YOU.
  • Spice up your messages and inject some personality to make your content a little more interesting.
  • Make your content simple, short and to the point.
  • Best of all, treat your subscribers like the way you want to be treated (kudos to you Kevin Duncan!).

I sure have learned a lot from these awesome people, and hopefully this post will help you reassess your email marketing strategy as well.

Your turn..

What seriously makes you unsubscribe from an email list?

Pin for Later

Feel free to grab the graphic (original size) and embed it within your articles or use the following pin:

Useful Resources + Credits

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.