Should You Be Bummed When Somebody Unsubscribes From Your List?

You just wrote what you believe is an important email for your subscribers. Perhaps a link to your latest post which you know rocks. Or perhaps even a product recommendation that you truly believe is awesome and will benefit your readers. So, you send the email to your list. And… You check back the next…

You just wrote what you believe is an important email for your subscribers. Perhaps a link to your latest post which you know rocks. Or perhaps even a product recommendation that you truly believe is awesome and will benefit your readers.

So, you send the email to your list. And…

You check back the next day and you see that a certain number of people unsubscribed from your list after getting your email.

What? Why?

It is like a little punch in the nuts. 🙂

Why are they unsubscribing? Do they think your stuff sucks? Are you just that out of touch that you’re the only one who thinks what you’re doing is good work?

Sometimes it CAN feel that way.

But, you know…. it happens.

In fact, as I write this post, I just sent my third email to my list about a webinar I have going on this evening. Since I began promoting this webinar 3 days ago, I’ve had 67 people opt out of my list.

67 people, for reason or the other, decided they didn’t want to hear from me anymore.

With all this talk about the importance of growing an email list, it seems like I’m going the wrong direction, right?

Well, no.

And, no, you absolutely shouldn’t be bummed when somebody opts out of your email list.

Because, it isn’t the size of your list that matters as much as it is that the people on your list really want to hear from you. In fancy marketing talk, they would be “qualified”. You want to be talking to the right kind of person, not just anybody who will fog up a mirror when they take a breath.

Any email list is a living, breathing thing. People come and go all the time. In the end, you want the people who stick around to be there because they truly dig what you’re doing. Those are your fans.

Those 67 people who left my list, they weren’t the right prospect. Perhaps they weren’t that interested in my topic. Perhaps they resent any form of marketing. Perhaps they’re just short on time and realize they aren’t going to act on anything I say anyway. Whatever the reason, it means they aren’t the right fit.

Now, if you’re in a situation where you’re losing more people than you’re bringing in, well obviously you would need to re-evaluate your strategies. That’s a different matter altogether. There’s a course to help you with that. 🙂

So, should you be bummed when somebody unsubscribes from your list?

No, it happens.

Your job is to set expectations on what they can expect by being on your list, then deliver – or even surpass – those expectations. Aside from that,  if they leave, it probably means you just weren’t the right match for them.

No big deal.


  1. I have a question on this, but in reverse.

    Do you ever go through your email list and delete subscribers that never engage or open any of the emails? I know the tracking only works if the reader chooses to display images, but I feel I have a handful of subscribers that are basically “dead weight” at this point. Do I leave them on the list? Do I delete them? Do I send a personal email directly to them to see if they are still engaged?

    I’d love to hear what others are doing!

    1. Lori Stalter, that’s an excellent question and I HOPE to see a response or two about your query. I have seen both ways. Some delete, some ask, and some just leave the ‘dead weight’.

      It’s hard to say. I was on a TOP marketer’s list for FIVE YEARS before I finally bought something from him/her.

      Never know…. 🙂

  2. If your initial reaction is being bummed, then you have a bit of a problem on your hands – the entirety of it should be grasped as a learning experience. If I were in your shoes, I would have immediately said, “Hey, 67 people don’t want to be subscribed to me any more because ….” and then tried to fill in the blank. Is every last lost subscriber worth chasing and figuring out why they left? No. Sometimes, subscribers just want the free stuff you promise them and that’s it – you’ll never keep them forever.

    Learn from it. Embrace whatever you did wrong. Or maybe you didn’t do wrong. Overall, learn from it. It’s that simple. Great post, David!

  3. Only be concerned if your unsubscribe rate starts increasing significantly. That’s a sign that you are doing something that your readers don’t like – usually a sign of broken promises.

    My unsubscribe count usually goes up ever so slightly in January. Based on unsubscribe comments, it’s usually because people are taking January as a time to review all their newsletter subscriptions and unsubscribe from those they don’t need anymore. In fact, every January I encourage people to unsubscribe using the correct unsubscribe link, instead of the ” mark as spam” option in their email reader – IF they are no longer interested in the newsletter, of course.

    David, I did get a bit tired of your webinar emails. However, and this is the important part, based on your track record of writing very helpful content in your emails, I didn’t unsubscribe. Now that I think about it, I do recall something about a delay in the webinar (don’t remember why). Keep up the great work!

    1. Totally agree. It’s absolutely fine with me as well.

      Actually, from a reader aspect, I usually review my newsletter subscription after a period of 3-4 month to weed out those that aren’t of value to me at the time.

  4. David,

    Good afternoon.
    Great post- very reassuring.

    I remember one of my first “unsubscribers.” He exchanged his email address for a free E-book. However, he was so incensed about getting a follow up email from me, he telephoned and demanded that I “opt-him-out.” I suggested that all he had to do was click on the “unsubscribe” link. He replied, “I don’t want to waste my time…You click the unsubscribe link.”

    Being an astute, insightful marketer, I kinda figured he wasn’t going to grow into a valuable fan.

    Initially though, I found it difficult not to take “unsubscribes” personally. However, two years of unsubscribe therapy really helped.

    Thanks again for another great post.


  5. No you shouldn’t

    Not if you are getting your subscribes in a systematic way.

    However, if you have a high or growing opt out rate then you should be concerned because your ship is sinking.

  6. LOL I still remember when I had my first unsubscribe, my first thought was “well… that son of a…” but when I strongly thought about it, then I found out it was completely okay and I shouldn’t be pissed at all.

    I mean, if a person unsubscribes it’s because he (or she) is clearly not resonating with us in some parts and they clearly are not our most targeted prospects either.

    I rather have someone unsubscribing than having them dormant on my list ignoring the heck out of my e-mails.


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