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It’s the statistic that no email marketer wants to face, but what if we told you that ignoring your unsubscribe rate is the number one way to ensure its increase? Don’t worry, we’re here to help you break the definition down, bring the rate up, and get back to delighting your subscribers in no time.

First things first: The unsubscribe rate tells you the percentage of your subscribers who have chosen to no longer receive your messages.

The good news: Unsubscribes aren’t always bad news

While it can seem a little harsh, you don’t need to be afraid of checking your unsubscribe rate. Sure, it hurts to imagine someone scrolling past all the content and images you’ve worked hard on, only to click that offensive “unsubscribe” option. And if more than one person has opted-out, what does that mean about you as an email marketer?

Hear us when we say you don’t need to take it personally—yet. Think of the unsubscribe rate as the “check engine” light of your email marketing Cadillac. You don’t need to buy a new car or start taking the bus, your tactics are simply due for a routine tune-up.

How unsubscribes can actually be beneficial

Keeping an eye on your unsubscribe rate can tell you a lot about the people reading your emails, the content they love, and what you can improve to keep them engaged. With that in mind, unsubscribe rates under 2% are within industry norms.

But there are also things you can be doing to prevent unsubscribes, like beginning with a healthy list, as well as using tactics like segmentation, automation, and personalization to maintain list hygiene. It’s not realistic to aim for an unsubscribe rate of 0% because some list churn is normal.

We’ve found that the average unsubscribe rate is 0.17%.

How to measure your unsubscribe rate

Having an “unsubscribe” option at the end of each message is a legal requirement for all marketing companies, but how do you know when someone clicks it?

Using your ESP’s insights dashboard, you can see various statistics for a specified period of time, like the past 30 days, or for an individual campaign. When you look at this reported percentage for a campaign, you can then compare it to others to find out more about the content your subscribers like. Did your unsubscribe rate increase with a particular subject line, content format, number of images, or did you send too many emails at the same time?

Again, measuring your unsubscribe rate is a helpful tool to help you fine-tune your email marketing strategy.

Does it really matter?

When we’re talking about sending strong email marketing campaigns, paying attention to your unsubscribe rate definitely matters. It’s the statistic that can tell you most directly that something in your strategy isn’t working and needs to change.

But is it the only reported statistic that matters? Not at all. Used in conjunction with other measurements, like email open rate, click rate, spam rate, and bounce rate, you can not only see how many of your subscribers are engaging or opting out, but also get a few clues as to why.

What now?

Now that you’ve learned the importance of your unsubscribe rate, how to measure it, and what you can do to improve it in the future, you’re ready to check out your campaign analytics and carry these best practices into your next send. While you’re there, you may also want to pay attention to your email bounce rate—It could explain a lot about why you’re not getting as much engagement as you’d like or provide the missing piece to your strategy!

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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