What Do You Do When Someone Unsubscribes?

What Do You Do When Someone Unsubscribes?Getting the first email subscriber on your mailing list is exciting. Nurturing it to grow to 10 and beyond is like being a green-fingered gardener.

You spend so much time focusing on getting the opt-in form right, putting out the right message, and adding value to your readers then one day you get someone who unsubscribes.

The first reaction is disappointment but when it happens again you start to worry that you’re doing something wrong.

As easy as it sounds, the trick is not to panic. People unsubscribe for lots of reasons.

It’s much the same as when people no longer follow you on Twitter.

Why Do People Unsubscribe?

They’ve lost interest

It seemed like a great idea to subscribe at the time but since then they’ve not read any of your emails and decide to look elsewhere.

They don’t remember you

You don’t send emails very often and people forget they subscribed to your list.

They don’t like what you send

If you send endless streams of emails promoting products and don’t give your subscribers any value, they’re going to unsubscribe faster than lightning.

Thinking about it though, I’m sure you’ve unsubscribed from a mailing list before. There are many reasons why people will no longer want to be on your mailing list, so don’t take it personally.

The key thing is that you continue to engage with your subscribers and grow your list because it’s inevitable that some people are going to unsubscribe.

What Can You Do To Avoid Unsubscribes?

There’s no perfect answer to that question. I’ve tried a number of things and continue to test and tweak things as I go.

Here are some of the things you need to think about for your email marketing strategy.


It does all depend on the people on your mailing list and what your niche is as to how often it’s appropriate to send an email.

Emailing people several times a day though is more than likely going to annoy them and get you labelled as a spammer.

Equally though, if you leave it for weeks or months between emails, people will have forgotten who you are and your unsubscribes will increase.

Personally I think that emailing two to three times a week is fine. Most of the time I only email twice a week; once with a blog update and once with hints and tips.

How often do you email your subscribers?


If you told people they’d get email updates each time you publish a post to your blog or they’d receive a weekly newsletter then that’s what you need to give them.

It’s important that you provide, at the very least, what you said you were going to when people signed up to your list.

Be careful that you also send emails relevant to your niche. Sending someone emails that aren’t relevant to what they signed up for would definitely be flagged as spam!

What did you agree to send your subscribers when they signed up?


Do you send out plain text emails to your subscribers? How effective are they for retaining subscribers?

If they’re not then you might want to try adding your logo to your emails and sending in html format.

I use the same header for the emails I send out as I do for my blog.

That way people know it’s from me and get used to seeing my emails in their inbox.

Over To You

What do you think about getting unsubscribes? How do try to keep your subscribers happy? Do you have a plan of action for the emails you send out to your list?

Please let me know in the comments below and as always please share this on your favourite social network!

Image courtesy of Feelart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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    • Tim Bonner says

      True. That may be the case.

      I tend to not open some emails for a while if they don’t interest me.

      If people are like me, they will do a check at least every few months for open rates.

      I then remove anyone from my list who hasn’t opened an email for a while.

  1. says

    Hi Tim,
    Happy monday! Are you back?

    BTW, there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop people from jumping off (except remove the unsubscribe link and face the consequences) We can only make an effort to reduce the rate of un- subscription by following the tips you just shared here – being regular and keeping to our words,etc

    Your list is like your marketplace. You can’t stop people from moving out of it once they are in

    Have a wonderful week ahead Tim

    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Enstine

      I got back on Tuesday evening and since then I’ve been answering comments and upgrading my theme.

      There’s still over 50 comments to answer yet but I’m getting through them :-).

      I agree. There’s really very little we can do about people unsubscribing other than keeping to our word and providing quality information.

      Enjoy the rest of the week Enstine.

  2. says

    Hey Tim –

    One strategy I’ve adopted which I’ve seen others use is to add a brief sentence at the opening of every email you send out reminding them that they signed up in the first place and giving them a link to unsubscribe.

    For example:

    “You’re receiving this email because you requested to download [whatever they signed up for]. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, you may unsubscribe by clicking this link.”

    I think that’s a pretty smart strategy – it puts the responsibility back on them since they’re the ones who signed themselves up in the first place. I don’t have any numbers to back it up, but I don’t believe that “reminding” your subscribers why they’re subscribed and giving them the unsubscribe link up front actually increases your unsubscribe rates.

    But I do think it will lower your spam/complaint numbers. It isn’t the unsubscribes that bothers me – it’s the people who downloaded for free the stuff you worked multiple hours to create who either forget or don’t care and then report your correspondence as spam.

    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Brad

      That sounds like a very sensible strategy.

      I used to do a similar thing at the end of my emails rather than the beginning.

      I may start to do that again although my mailing list is still pretty small at the moment.

      I can’t say I like people who mark emails as spam after they’ve subscribed but forgotten that they did!

  3. says

    Hi Tim, I hope you enjoyed your vacation!
    I’ve had some family unsubscribe, that hurt a little but the others I know “it happens”. They get too may emails and after they downloaded the FREE ebook they unsubscribed. As long as it doesn’t happen often. I only send mine for the blog once a week though I’ve changed the day up a bit. On the retail side I only do monthly unless it’s the holidays or something very special. This reminds me to work on my next one asap though.
    Great tips on how to keep them subscribing Tim. I do not like the ones that keep sending sales pitches, drives me nuts from “blogs.” I may unsubscribe if I get more of those vs informative ones.
    Welcome back Tim!

    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Lisa

      We had a great time thank you and still have a few weeks before my wife goes back to work.

      It’s been a much more relaxed summer for us!

      I’m not surprised you would be a little hurt if family members unsubscribe.

      I usually send an email each Monday with details of any new posts.

      I started to send one on Thursday as well but with only get back from vacation on Tuesday I didn’t have a chance to get anything ready this week.

      I went through a stage of subscribing to a lot of bloggers mailing lists. More so I could see how and what they were promoting.

      I agree though, too many promotions and not enough helpful and informative emails will soon turn a subscriber off!

  4. says

    Unless they are unsubscribing in huge numbers, I don’t worry about it. I want people on my email list who want to be there. I want people who love what I do and what I say. If you aren’t a fit for me, then I encourage you to unsubscribe, otherwise you will get annoyed by me!

    It could be that you just not what they are looking for right now. I know that I have unsubscribed to lists, but later resubscribed and love what they say now.

    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Carlie

      That makes complete sense.

      There’s no point in having people on your list who really don’t want to be there!

  5. says

    Hey tim, great to see you back. I got a lot more subscribers after offering my free guide to getting twitter followers (thanks for the review by the way :>). Since then the numbers have risen nicely, but not stunningly. Not sure i have had any unsubscribes (I use madmimi like you – any way to tell?). But as Carlie above says, if they are not into what you send, then it’s for the best right!! Leaving in droves however would be scary and perhaps worth investigating!!

    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Ashley

      I’m the same. I’ve been getting more subscribers since I offered my free eBook.

      They’re also not stunning numbers but they’re better than nothing!

      I’ve had a couple of unsubscibers but that’s just the way things are I guess.

      On Mad Mimi, if you go into your audience list, you can then filter your subscribers to see any unsubscribers.

  6. says

    Hi Tim,

    I’ve only just started building my list, so can’t really comment on your main question. I guess I’ll be disappointed when people start unsubscribing, but I know it’s bound to happen.

    As a customer, the main reason I unsubscribe is when I’m overwhelmed with too many emails. I’ve just recently subscribed to a very reputable blogger’s list and, to be honest, her first few emails have been driving me round the bend – they’re much too frequent and too LONG – some of them are like pretty substantial blog posts and I’m thinking, I just don’t have time for all this – I only subscribed to get notification of her blog posts, but I’m getting a lot more than I bargained for and it’s very irritating.

    At the moment, I’m just emailing people to notify them of new blog posts and I’m trying to keep my messages short and sweet. I do think we have to be careful what we send into people’s inboxes.

    An interesting subject, Tim – thanks :)


    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Sue

      I’ve had a couple of people unsubscribe but I’m okay with it.

      If they don’t like what I’m doing then it’s better that they unsubscribe than mark my emails as spam!

      I tend to only send a blog post update on a Monday and sometimes one other email during the week.

      It sounds like the list you signed up to recently is way too busy. That would irritate me too!

  7. says

    Hey Tim,

    I welcome you back – if you are – from your vacation!

    I have an e-mail list that has been running for at least 10 years now that began with a brick & mortar type business that I ran for many years and as the time passed (the last 48 months) as my business changed I simply allowed my “list” to evolve and to allow for new subscribers. Over the years, I have noticed some have unsubscribed simply due to a lack of interest in my new venture – which I expected.

    At present, I feel like a total “newbie” to blogging and my own website creation and, I will expect a few that will unsubscribe mainly due to my own faults which I hope to correct now – after reading your recent post! Thanks for the great info.


    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Les

      I got back on Tuesday evening and it’s taken me since then to get through all of the comments I received whilst I was away!

      It’s inevitable that some people will unsubscribe and for various reasons. I unsubscribe to things sometimes myself!

      I still feel like a “newbie” too Les, particularly when it comes to list building.

      We can all learn this stuff together though :-).

  8. Bren says

    Hi Tim!

    For me, I wouldn’t take it personal. Maybe they decided to follow via RSS feed, FB, or Twitter feed. I’ve signed up for a few blog newsletters only to unsubscribe later because I went back to RSS or found an alternative. I hate emails. So, I wouldn’t take it personally.


    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Bren

      Makes perfect sense! I guess when you get your first unsubscriber it feels a little like a kick in the teeth though.

  9. says

    Hi Tim,

    I don’t have a list yet, so I can only comment from the perspective of a subscriber.

    I usually unsubscribe from lists for a few reasons:
    1 – Too many emails. The 2-3 times per week you mention is fine, but when it becomes a several times a day situation, it’s a bit tedious.
    2 – Lost interest in the interest itself. Sometimes, as we get to investigate things, we subscribe to lists filled with info we’re into at the time. Once that ends, it just makes sense to disconnect.
    3 – I didn’t subscribe in the first place. I have found that I was receiving emails from ‘sister sites’, etc from the ones I did subscribe to.

    Once I do finally get around to building a list, I’m sure I’ll experience people opting out. And I’ll keep in mind the old phrase ‘you can’t dance at everyone’s wedding’ 😉

    Great post!

    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Dana

      I have a similar outlook when it comes to unsubscribing.

      I’ve noticed that I’ve been automatically subscribed to some lists just by commenting.

      I tend to unsubscribe from those straight away!

  10. says

    I think we should not worry about unsubscribers, it simply they lost interest. On the flip side, it also tells that we have only subscribers that fully interested with what we do. The best thing we can do about them is by sending them a thank you letter for being our subscriber for a while . Just be positive on all negative things :).

    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Anya

      If you’re keeping up with a blog through Bloglovin’ then it makes sense to unsubscribe.

      I would only stay on a list if I was getting additional value from it.

  11. says

    It really hurts to see people go. But sometime, some readers just sign up for the free eBook. Oh well…doesn’t matter.

    We just got to move on and say “Hello world” :)


    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Reginald

      I’ve not had any of those people so far but I’m sure many people do just sign up for the eBook and then unsubscribe!

  12. says

    Hi Tim,
    I think that biggest thing is, we all have to learn not to take it personally. Sometimes we just aren’t the right fit and there is nothing that can be done to change it. As Carlie said, unless it’s a large number of people unsubscribing all at the same time, I don’t usually worry about it. If the numbers are dropping like rocks, however, then it’s time to sit up and take notice.

    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi George

      You’re right. It’s really not worth taking it personally.

      When you’ve got a small list like I have though, I sometimes find it hard when someone unsubscribes!

      I’m sure I won’t be so concerned about it when I have a huge list though.

  13. says

    Hi Tim,

    First time I saw my unsubscriber, it worried me too what I was doing wrong. But then, after realizing that, that person wasn’t really reading my blog, I stopped worrying. One leaves, but then other people keep subscribing. So I don’t really worry much about unsubscribers.

    You said 2-3x a week is okay. I have been sending my newsletter 2x a week but lately I really wanted to start doing it once-a-week like I was doing then…do you think it’s okay?


    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Angela

      I currently only send a blog update once a week with the occasional extra email some weeks.

      I’m sure it’s fine to send an email once a week. It depends on what you tell people when they subscribe though.

      If you told them to expect an email twice a week then I’d send an email to your list to tell them things are changing.

  14. says

    it simply they lost interest. On the flip side, it also tells that we have only subscribers that fully interested with what we do. The best thing we can do about them is by sending them a thank you letter for being our subscriber for a while

    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Chris

      I tend to review email open rates every six months as well.

      If someone hasn’t opened an email for that long it’s pretty clear they’re no longer interested.

      I’ve started sending an email to those people to see if I can reignite their interest.

      If I can’t then I remove them from my list.

  15. Silviu says

    Hi Tim,

    1. Getting your first subscriber is exciting, indeed. Getting your first “unsubscriber” is not exciting. However, when it happened … I wasn’t impressed at all. It is inevitable. There are so many reasons for unsubscribing… . Only when it become a “trend” you need to worry about.

    2. I think 1-2 emails a week are enough in the beginning. Then you may add another one (preferable a broadcast) that will keep them interested and “awake”.

    3. This idea of an email update, whenever you publish a post seems brilliant. I will adopt it for sure.

    Have a nice day

    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Silviu

      I agree with everything you say.

      Certainly, if you’re getting a lot of unsubscribers you need to rethink what you sending, when and how often.

  16. says

    Hi Tim
    I guess I am just on the same wave length as Sue Neal.
    You are right it hurts when they unsubscribe, but better for them to leave and then you know what you are dealing with. If I am sending out emails and know one opens them or if they do but don’t go read the post again and again, I wish they would unsubscribe. I would rather put my energies elsewhere or know what to focus on. There will always be people that are not entirely interested with your message every time. That is okay, but I know when I am done with some sites, as they no longer hold my interest. I may have changed or they may have changed, either way it is time to part ways.


    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Mary

      That makes sense to me too.

      If people aren’t interested in what you have to say then there’s no point in them being on your list.

      I always do a check every few months to see if anyone is on my list who hasn’t opened an email for a while.

      I’ll send them a quick email to see if I can get their interest but if I can’t then I remove them!

  17. says

    I have received a lot of unsubscribers during the years, and at first, I was really sad when I received a message that someone had left. I was thinking that I needed to do something fast. I was thinking that I needed to email the person and say I was sorry. And, maybe I should have, and maybe I should have asked him or her why she left and what I could have done differently. But, now, I just keep doing what I love doing, and I’m thinking that if they don’t like it, I’ll find someone that will :)

  18. says

    Hey Tim, very informative post here. You are right, you can’t stop some readers from leaving your mailing list, and you certainly shouldn’t panic when they do. It’s the nature of the business, although it still will sting a little. All you can do is continue to build relationships with your audience, listen to their wants and needs, and provide them with high quality content on a regular basis.

    • Tim Bonner says

      Hey Brian

      I couldn’t have put it better myself!

      When you get your first unsubscriber, it can send you into a panic.

      It’s really not worth it though. I just think about how many email lists I’ve unsubscribed from when it happens.

  19. says

    Hi Tim,

    I’m not much into building email lists, but sending away email updates to my subscribers :) That’s what I promised and no more than that.

    Usually I’m not fond of emails. I prefer social networks over email newsletters. Anyway, before I spend more of my time with social networks, I used to follow tech and game updates via email.

    The first reason I decided to unsubscribe was frequency. When I log in, I find way too many emails I can’t handle and before anything, I just go unsubscribe from them. Second is relevance for sure. If they are not what I expected or if there are more promotional messages, I’d unsubscribe too.

    However I don’t think we need to worry too much about unsubscribing, but now and then we need to assess if we do it right :) As I think, those who don’t unsubscribe are either who interested in updates or else who don’t check emails at all (Those who signed up just to grab free ebook or lazy to read emails).

    But those who take time to unsubscribe could be the ones we should worry about, as probably they leave ’cause of a reason. I wouldn’t be mad at those who unsubscribe immediately, but ones who used to be in the list and unsubscribe after some time :)


    • Tim Bonner says

      Hi Mayura

      I tend to only send email updates to my subscribers as well.

      Although I do sometimes send another email during the week if I find anything interesting to talk about!

      That’s a great point that we should be more concerned about those that have been on the list for some time and unsubscribe.

      If that happens, I’ll probably email them directly to see if I can do anything to change their minds.

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