Why Are People Unsubscribing From Your Newsletters?

This blog post is written by our guest writer, Mark, who will surely help you to reduce the number of people unsubscribing from emails. 

Any business sending out email newsletters will find the prospect of readers unsubscribing to be scary. Watching your mailing list dwindle as recipients decide your communications are useless to them is the worst-case scenario, however, it’s a likely outcome if you don’t take the time to get your emails right.

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 prohibited businesses from sending out unsolicited emails and required that every mass email give the recipient the option to unsubscribe. If you’re a business that uses email newsletters on a regular basis, you’re constantly battling against the prospect of unsubscription. This means you need to stand out and provide something special. In order to do this, you need to understand why your subscribers are jumping ship and what it is they’re really looking for.

The team of business app specialists at GetApp recently did a survey of over 500 US-based internet users between the ages of 25 and 44. The survey set out to uncover the most common reasons why people unsubscribe from emails. The results shed light on the main motivations for hitting that dreaded unsubscribe button.


Source: GetApp

Why are people unsubscribing from emails?

In this section, we will explore the main reasons people are unsubscribing from emails.

Too many emails

The most common reason people gave for unsubscribing from an email newsletter, from almost half of all respondents (46.4%), as they receive too many emails. It seems that a high frequency of email communication is a big turn-off to mailing list recipients.

This reason for unsubscribing is without a doubt the most frequent, suggesting that it’s a far too common occurrence for businesses to ‘overdo it’ and send emails to their subscribers more often than they would like. This leaves one big question: what is the magic number?

This isn’t a question that can be answered for you, and it certainly isn’t the same for each business. Keeping an eye on certain factors over a period of time is the best way to help find that sweet spot. For example;
Start by sending them monthly, then check the click-through rate and unsubscription rate.
If you feel that you have more to say, increase the regularity of your emails.
Keep checking against the same metrics. For example, if you see negative results with weekly emails, then consider making them every two or three weeks.
Don’t be afraid to hold off on sending emails, especially if you can see that you’re not getting the desired results and your recipients aren’t engaging.

Do what is best for your company, fits your brand, and makes the most of any fresh content that you may have.

As we mentioned, there is not an all-encompassing answer that we can give you, telling you exactly how frequently you should be sending email newsletters. However, we can be sure that 46% of people saying they leave email marketing lists because they receive too many emails is a good enough reason for your business to take note and make sure you’re not falling into that trap.

It looks like spam

According to Statista SPAM accounts for 56% of all email traffic. SPAM emails cause many serious problems.


The format of your email and subject line could carry a lot more weight than you realize, with 17.2% of people stating that they will unsubscribe from a mailing list because an email looks like spam. Considering how easy it is for a recipient to simply swipe away your email on their smartphone or tablet, sending on a newsletter that doesn’t grab the recipient’s attention in a positive way can immediately put you at a disadvantage.

The answer to this is quite straightforward: do your research and make sure that you’re putting together quality content that looks professional and doesn’t cause your recipient to doubt your credentials. Sending out poorly constructed emails is never going to lead to success, so consider some of the following in your correspondence.

Tips on how to not end up in spam

1. Make sure your subject line is clear

A poorly-written subject line is only going to one place — the spam folder. If your recipient does manage to find it in there, chances are they’ll want to unsubscribe from your list. Recipients need to be sure about the content of your email. Using a clear subject line and a preheader is the first step. If you want to know more about subject line copywriting, you can read more about it here.


Image source: Optinmonster.com

2. Make it clear who you are

Having a strong subject line and preheader is great, but one of the first questions your recipient asks will be ‘who is this from?’ This calls for consistency, so make sure you pick the right sender name and stick with it.

3. Content is key

If you get into the habit of sending emails with very little useful content but lots of attractive images, your readers will very quickly realize that there is no reason to stay subscribed. Ensuring that you’re sending out relevant, content-rich emails is vital.

4. Proofread everything!

Before you hit send, make sure that you’ve checked through every word of your email for errors. Pay particularly close attention to those subject lines and preheaders. If a recipient sees something that is misspelled, then they’ll be immediately turned off. Remember that you’re not just fighting the email spam filter but also the recipient’s built-in spam filter.

5. Make it compatible

Most emails are opened on mobile devices. Emails will render differently on-screen depending on the email client of the recipient. Emails that aren’t mobile-friendly will be marked as spam.


Source: Email monday

Make sure you check out all the reasons why your emails should be mobile-friendly. There are simple and easy-to-use tools available online which can help to ensure that your emails will appear in the recipient’s inbox and look their best when opened. Creating a responsive email template is important. Responsive email template builders can help you with that.

Sending irrelevant content

We touched on this slightly before, but it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to make sure you’re including relevant and engaging content within your emails. 15.8% of people stated that they unsubscribe from email newsletters because the content is irrelevant. You need to remember why it is that you are sending the email.

What do you have to say?

If you’re finding that question difficult to answer, then it’s likely you really don’t need to send out an email newsletter. This point crosses over with the spam section slightly; if you’re sending empty and pointless emails to recipients for the sake of it, then you’re spamming them. If you want to know more about SPAM laws, we’ve collected email SPAM law collection in 28 countries that you can check — some countries might have tricky regulations in place.

Think about point #1. If your recipient is receiving countless emails from different companies, what really makes yours stand out from the rest?

How to send relevant emails?

Do you have something new and fresh to say — something that your recipient hasn’t heard before?

Are you aiming your emails at your more engaged customers? What is it that made them engage before?

Should every customer get the exact same email, or is your message more relevant to some than others?

When your customer originally opted into your emails, is this what they were expecting?

Before you get your content writers tapping away at their keyboards, thinking about some of these questions could be a great way to decide whether you really do have the right kind of content to go into an email newsletter. If you’re scraping together ideas, maybe it’s not the right time to send them.

I didn’t know I was subscribing

Of the 500 people asked, 9.1% said that they unsubscribed from an email newsletter mailing list because they didn’t realize that they were subscribing in the beginning.

Since this reason for unsubscription applies to almost one in ten recipients, it could be worth considering ways to ensure you’re only signing up people who are really interested in your email content. For example, if your website is set up in a way that captures the details of everyone who logs in and views an item and then adds them to a newsletter mailing list, the chances are that some of these will have no interest in hearing from you — especially the ones who never purchased anything.

Be honest

One thing that is guaranteed to get you started on the wrong foot with your recipients is a lack of clarity and honesty when it comes to your subscription. If a customer makes an inquiry or a purchase and it’s followed by a series of emails that they didn’t ask for, it’s likely to be followed by an unsubscription, and almost certainly won’t lead to a sale.

Offer double opt-in

Looking at your submission forms and requiring a double opt-in could be the perfect way to ensure you’re only signing up people who really want to receive your emails. This can be achieved by sending an email to new subscribers that requires them to click and confirm that they want to receive correspondence. It might seem like a harder way to get people to sign up, but in this scenario, quality outranks quantity.


Source: Medium

They’re not tailored to my preferences

Any business should appreciate how important it is to listen to customers and take on board what it is that they want. 7.2% of people who were asked in the GetApp survey said that they’ve unsubscribed from an email newsletter because the sender didn’t take the time to tailor it to their individual preferences.

This point is covered slightly in some of the previous sections, but the survey results just go to show how important it is to make the recipient of an email feel like this email was only sent to them. When you’re planning the content for your email newsletter, it’s important to consider whether it meets the needs of your entire demographic.

It can be a tough ask to spread your information thin across one email. So instead of sending a one-size-fits-all newsletter, you may choose to approach it differently and split your newsletter into different themes for different demographics.

Too much or too little content

We’ve talked about how you need to include relevant content, but the next big challenge is making sure that your content is the right size. The survey results showed that 4.3% of people unsubscribe from an email newsletter because they think that there is too much or too little content in it.

Remember in the first point when we said that there’s no definitive answer for how many emails equals too many emails? The same applies to content. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to how long your content should be. But there are a few tips that you can follow to help make sure that your content is around the right length:

Are your points succinct?

Remember that your newsletter is aiming to inspire click-throughs. You don’t need to tell the whole story, just intrigue the reader.

Is it easy to read?

Big, clear sub-headings will make it more palatable and easier for the recipient to pick out the information they want.

Does it look good?

It’s never wise to choose style over substance, but big blocks of text are not appealing to a reader.

Is it clear?

Too much text and the recipient will be turned off from reading it; too little text and they won’t know what it’s about. Striking that balance is key.

It doesn’t look appealing

Last but not least, ensuring that you’ve created a visually appealing email is very important. There are many email template builders that you can use for free to design an amazing email. If you don’t know how to design an appealing email template from scratch, you can check out a tutorial video or use pre-designed email templates. Even if your written content is great, if the recipient doesn’t like the look of the email, they probably won’t read it.

Consider your use of the following to make your email as aesthetically pleasing as possible:



A ‘safe’ font that will display well on all formats is important. It needs to be a choice that’s available on every device, browser and provider, that way each of your recipients will see the email in the intended font. Make sure to use fonts accordingly to best practices. Web fonts can have a huge impact on your email design.


A choice of colors that compliment both your brand and each other is very important. Stick to a small number of colors that work well together and will affect the mood of the recipient in the right way. There’s a lot of psychology behind color choice.


These are very popular in email marketing at the moment and can make a big difference. When picking your GIF, make sure the first frame is a good one, sometimes it’ll take a while to load. Don’t forget to optimize the GIF. I would advise you to aim to reduce the size of your animated GIF to less than 0.5 MB or max 1 MB since if you go well above this limit, your email might load too slowly for your readers.


Be careful not to overuse GIFs, or you risk losing the desired effect. You can check out how other brands use GIFs in their email designs to boost engagement for inspiration. We have a tutorial video on how to add a GIF to an email.


These are a vital part of your email and can be ideal to showcase products. Be aware that some images can slow your email down and some email providers will not show them automatically, so choose them carefully.


Most likely, the overall goal of your email is to get people to click through to your website. Ensuring that you’ve got clear call-to-action buttons on your email will make it much easier for the recipient to find your site. Using a different color and making your button larger than linked text will help to catch the eye.

With the Chamaileon collaborative email design platform, you can design an appealing email within minutes. You can change fonts, colors, add relevant images, and even GIFs to grab your subscriber’s attention!

Wrapping up

An email newsletter marketing campaign can be an incredibly effective way of captivating your readers and generating click-through to your website and products. However, if it’s not done properly, it can have incredibly detrimental effects. Make sure you create your newsletter accordingly following best practices.

Email recipients have the right to opt-out of any communication, and it’s up to you as the sender to stop them from doing that. Ensuring that your emails avoid some of the pitfalls listed above could help you retain your mailing list numbers and engage your recipients.