Why Unsubscribers Are Good For You

March 4, 2012 · 18 comments

You are probably thinking… “What?!”

Wondering why I would say people who opt out of your list is a good thing? Read on…

People lose interest. When someone joined your list they were excited and motivated to find out more about you and what you had to offer. It’s very difficult to sustain that level of engagement over time. Even if you’re cranking out excellent content and value consistently – some people just lose interest and move on. Nothing you can do about it. The longer the time, the more likely they will lose interest and eventually decide to opt out.

Be OK with that…

People opt out after a period of time with consistent non-activity. We all do it. We scan our email inbox or folders and decide to ourselves if we want to stay on that list… or not. It’s like spring cleaning or going through your closet and tossing what you don’t need and keeping what you do. The longer the stuff lingers in the closet or attic – the more likely it will get tossed. People view your list in the same way. We all have to try and rise above the clutter and remain front and center. Over time if we don’t meet our end of the bargain – they’re likely to opt out like last years jeans.

Be OK with that…

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. People opt out for a reason. It’s our job reason to have the awareness as to why they do opt out and figure out what can be done differently to avoid more people leaving in the future. Been through an extensive launch with a lot of “sales” and “pitch” emails? – you’re opt out rate will for sure increase to an extent. Starting to slack and not churn out the solid content that your subscribers are traditionally used to? Get back on it and whip it into shape. People who opt out should be seen like a red flag that something is not right – and you need to address it the best you can.

Be OK with that…

Focus on gaining the new people. The rate of people who unsubscribe is all relative to the number of new people who join your list. Focus on that and it will make the reality of people unsubscribing easy to deal with. Don’t look at your unsubscribe numbers -focus on the overall list size. People will leave your list at some point.

Be OK with that…

I’m happy when people opt out because then it cleans up my list and I can rely on more realistic and truthful statistics and analytics like open rates and click-through-rates. Dormant subscribers who never opt out (and never read your emails) are just skewing your numbers. I say “you know where the door is, leave whenever you want to…”

Be OK with that…

As a result of this – try not to focus on the numbers of your list. Focus on the conversation with your list. Write to one person (not the full list) and you’re more likely to not only keep them around longer – but open and read your emails (which is the idea here, right?)

Listen – the moral of the lesson is this: If people on your list are not opening your emails – why would you want them on your list? Chances are if these people are not opening or reading your emails – they’re not going to buy anyway.

And, with the new social media platforms out there like Facebook and Twitter (and many more) people can easily get your content and value in other places – not just email. My thought is if they move away from email – perhaps they’re moving onto an alternative platform to get my content like my Twitter updates or Facebook status.

Perhaps they’re no longer your ideal client – so be happy they moved on. Say to yourself… “I’m not their teacher. That’s totally cool.”

Until next time… Learn It, Love It, Live It!

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason AnthonyNo Gravatar March 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm

What a great post. I think it’s a mistake to get all jacked up over numbers and it contributes to many losing focus on whats important: providing value and quality service.


Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar March 5, 2012 at 11:43 am

So true, Jason. It matters most to focus on overall numbers and letting those who choose to move on – do so…


GerjanneNo Gravatar March 4, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Indeed, you are absolutely right. We from http://www.onlinemarketingdenhaag.nl in The Netherlands will rethink this and how we are going to

be OK with that 🙂

And I will tweet this most definitely. Thanks for sharing


Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar March 5, 2012 at 11:44 am

Thanks for the comment and glad it got you thinking about it! Enjoy…


Cathy PreslandNo Gravatar March 5, 2012 at 3:57 am

Oh I totally agree with this! It does take a bit of a mindset shift when you’re starting out and it looks as if you are losing more subscribers than you’re gaining but really – they’re just not your ideal client, or they’ve grown out of your service, so be pleased they are leaving you.

Being British a lot of my subscribers are also in the UK and I get ever such polite messages when they unsubscribe, like ” i really like your information but circumstances have changed and i’m not going ahead with my business”.

It’s nice that people tell me but even if they don’t I try to just celebrate the space those unsubscribes are leaving for all those lovely perfect subscribers to find me!



Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar March 5, 2012 at 11:45 am

Cathy – it’s definitely a mindset shift and one I’ve found not many people are willing to do. An easy trick to avoid that is not to look at your unsubscribed messages and have an assistant or team member manage that. You don’t want your attention focused on those who are leaving – it drains your energy.


Charles OgwynNo Gravatar March 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Derek – Great to see you last week.

Love this concept. More is not necessarily better. Valuing list quality more than quantity yields much better (and more encouraging) analytics.


Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar March 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

So true, Charles! It’s all about quality, not quantity. Thanks for the comment…


Suzanne MooreNo Gravatar March 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm


I think this is so important. I have Virtual Assistant and Online Business Management clients who are worried about promoting products or events because they don’t want people to leave their list. I always tell them that the people who are leaving are the ones who wouldn’t buy from them anyway, but those that stay are going to be upset if they realized the only notice of a price increase was buried in an ezine.

We all have a momentary “ouch” when we see an unsubscribe because we want EVERYONE to like us, but we can’t be everybody’s everything!

Learning it, loving it, living it 😉


Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar March 6, 2012 at 10:51 am

Suzanne – so true! If you have the inner feeling of not wanting to email your list for fear of them leaving – you’ve got to change the content of what you’re mailing them! Thanks for posting…


Zoe LiangNo Gravatar March 12, 2012 at 4:19 am

This article is right on my heart! Can’t agree with you more.


EricaNo Gravatar March 15, 2012 at 10:56 am


This is a great article. At first I used to get upset that people were dropping off of my list but now I’m happy because I know that I’m not wasting their time and their not wasting mine.


Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar March 16, 2012 at 10:05 am

Great to hear, Erica! So glad you liked the post…


Team TacticsNo Gravatar September 4, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Good to see the fight for quality and not quantity is still going! We’re looking at integrating our list with social media demographics and seeing how we can use the two to drive more engagement across the board!


Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar September 7, 2012 at 10:41 am

Love to hear it – great idea to integrate with social media…


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