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High Email Unsubscribe Rate? Here’s How to Stop It

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For email marketers, high unsubscribe rates can be a real downer. While unsubscribes help filter out less engaged contacts from your ready-to-buyers, watching subscriptions fall is naturally disheartening--especially after the effort of crafting what you thought was a compelling campaign. The nagging question persists: could something have been done differently to retain those subscribers?

The good news is there are innovative tactics to help shrink your unsubscribe rate that you probably aren't using – and that's why Movable Ink is here to help. Enter the next generation of email with these six surefire ways to reduce your email unsubscribe rate and take your audience from flakey to faithful.

What is a high unsubscribe rate?

The first step is assessing whether your unsubscribe rate is high or low. While healthy unsubscribe rates may vary based on your industry, a reasonable starting point is an unsubscribe rate ranging from 0.2% to 0.5%. If your unsubscribe rate exceeds the 0.5% mark, it might indicate room for improvement and a need to revisit your email strategy. Ideally, a healthy email unsubscribe rate hovers around 0.2%, showing that your content resonates well with your audience and keeps them engaged.

Why do people unsubscribe?

Your customers unsubscribe from emails for different reasons. But there are three key factors to consider that are likely causing the disconnect between you and your audience. 

People unsubscribe from emails when they feel inundated with too many messages arriving too frequently, causing inbox overload. Irrelevance is another culprit; if the content isn't personalized to align with each customer's needs or interests, they're quick to opt out. 

Lastly, it's easy to get caught in a cycle of prioritizing what your brands want to say over what your customers want to hear. Customers are likely to hit the unsubscribe button when they feel messages are centered around what the sender intends to convey rather than addressing their specific wants and desires. Successful email engagement hinges on balancing frequency, relevance, and customer-centric communication.

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6 ways to stop high unsubscribe rates

A high unsubscribe rate is a chance to improve email campaign effectiveness and grow subscriber loyalty. Explore the latest approaches in email marketing with these six cutting-edge tactics for shrinking your unsubscribe rate.

  • Move from segmentation to 1:1 personalization 

Segmentation and personalization are no longer synonymous. It's true that bucketing your audiences is how personalization begins, but creating an individualized narrative centered on each unique customer will get your subscribers to stick around. Everything you need to execute sophisticated, 1:1 personalization likely already lies in your existing customer data; you may just struggle to activate it to its greatest potential. 

  • Make sure the mobile experience is smooth

When I say smooth, I mean like butter. Smartphones are at the heart of the customer experience with 80% of people now accessing their email account via a mobile app. Ensuring your brand's experience seamlessly extends to mobile is crucial in delivering a 1:1, personalized omnichannel journey. Dark mode compatibility, legibility, and broken links are all issues that can lead subscribers to opt-out, emphasizing the importance of rigorous mobile testing in the QA process. Email marketers should prioritize mobile responsiveness and carry over a consistent omnichannel experience to mobile that adapts to any person, device, or channel on the fly. 

  • Consolidate or individualize your email frequency 

You can’t talk about email unsubscribes without mentioning email frequency, one of the highest reasons for opt-outs. According to our Audience of One report, 42% of people say the most common reason they unsubscribe from email is that the communications from a brand are too frequent.  

In the short term, if email frequency negatively impacts your engagement and subscriber retention,  consolidation is key to finding ways to combine or cut back email sends. But what if a marketing calendar didn’t have to dictate your email frequency? With new AI-powered personalization, marketers can use AI to analyze customer behavior and preferences to determine the most effective content blocks and email frequency for each individual. 

  • Lean into email exclusivity 

Most importantly, your brand has one question to answer - what's in it for them?  Consumers are driven to opt-in to your brand's email comms because  they believe you will have a continued value exchange. When they  are encouraged to  partake in exclusive intel or receive personalized offers they will most likely engage. Brands can't build lasting relationships through mass email sends alone; prioritizing 1:1 messaging shows you value each customer's unique behaviors and preferences while motivating them to keep taking action with your brand. Don't miss the chance to reward subscribers for their commitment to your email comms by offering discounts, personalized incentives, or celebrating milestones with a year-in-review. 

  • Create stand-out subject lines

Subject lines wield immense power in email marketing. Their brevity, case sensitivity, and occasional use of emojis make them effective engagement triggers. However, discerning customers can spot a generic, mass email send from the subject line compared to an experience distinctly made for them. While A/B testing subject lines is an obvious solution - can marketers go a step further?

Innovative tools like Subject Line Generation harness AI to craft personalized, brand-compliant copy. Marketers maintain control, reviewing and adapting suggestions. Over time, AI models learn and refine subject lines, increasing customer engagement and incremental lift by analyzing data such as opens, clicks, and conversions.

  • Make collecting feedback fun! 

Surveys, questionnaires - yawn! Who says marketers must wait until their consumers are halfway out the door for feedback on why they’ve decided to depart? While asking consumers to check a box for why they’ve opted out is helpful, marketers are missing a massive opportunity to get to the root of the problem, before it’s a problem.

Asking consumers for feedback across your email campaigns, whether in a newsletter or a trigger email, can help marketers continuously do a pulse check to understand how their content strategy resonates and what consumers are most interested in. Live polls are an easy way to do this. Take Ulta Beauty’s poll retargeting technique, which asks consumers to vote for their favorite trend in exchange for 30 loyalty points. 

The glass is half full...

High unsubscribe rates may seem like a bummer when, in reality, the metric is an opportunity in disguise. By committing to staying current and exploring new approaches, any marketer can enhance campaign effectiveness and foster subscriber loyalty. These tactics promise to transform audiences from disengaged to devoted, ensuring a more fruitful email marketing journey.

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