6 Reasons Why People Unsubscribe From Your List

You’ve worked hard – and probably spent a lot of money – building your list, right? So you want to make sure people don’t unsubscribe from your list.

But we’ve all been there – especially when we’re first starting out. Our excitement builds with each new subscriber, and then it happens… someone unsubscribes.


After a few hours of crying in your corn flakes, you dust yourself off, and keep moving forward.

But you still want to make sure you keep as many of your hard-earned prospects on your list – after all, you have information to share, lives to transform and products to sell!

So let’s get down to it, shall we?

6 Reasons Why People Unsubscribe From Your List

1 – They Unsubscribe Because They Never Signed Up To Be On Your List

While I’ve cautioned many people time and time again against buying email lists, it’s still done.

I get it – it seems like a no-brainer, right? Pay some money, get thousands of email addresses – what could go wrong?


Typically, when you buy a list, no matter what the list-seller tells you, plenty of other people are buying the same list. So you can count on the fact that each email address is getting bombarded by emails from companies other than yours.

Most importantly though, think about it this way… how do you feel when you get an email from a company you’ve never heard from, selling you something you probably don’t want? Or – even if it’s something you might want, doesn’t your relationship with that company get off to a rocky start because they’re using your personal information (your email address) without your permission?

Also – depending upon the laws of the country where your email recipient resides, you may end up with hefty fines for emailing someone that never expressly signed up for your own list in the first place. (US CAN-SPAM, Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) and more.)

Buying email lists and hoping to make it big with your own online offerings is the wrong approach on many levels – just don’t do it.
2 – They Unsubscribe Because You Only Reach Out When You Want To Sell Them Something

Now there is a clarification here…

You should always have a CTA (Call to Action) in your emails. Maybe it’s for a special offer, maybe an invitation to a webinar, etc. But whatever it is, it’s important to not just “sell” it.

But raise your hand if you’re tired of only hearing from a company when they want to sell you something.

I know my hand is raised…

Even the people I really respect are starting to lose my trust – and my patience – because they only email me when they want to sell me their products (or their partners’ products).

So when you’re communicating with your list, make sure you’re striking a balance between giving them value and selling them something.

3 – They Unsubscribe Because You’re Not Providing Relevant Information

If you follow best practices when building your list, you’ve likely used a targeted lead magnet to get people to sign up to hear what you have to say.

Maybe you used a whitepaper, eBook, PDF or even a coupon.

Whatever it was, if it was targeted to a specific subject, you should make sure that the information that follows sticks to your topics.

For example, if your lead magnet talked about weight loss, and you targeted people interested in losing weight, don’t start emailing them about home improvement projects. Even if that’s a passion of yours, it’s not necessarily a related topic for those on your weight loss list.

Always keep your Buyer Persona’s needs and desires front and center.

I’ve spoken to some clients who may have built up large lists under different companies, and they are hoping to leverage that list for their new venture. I advise them to do the following:

  • Email your list and let them know you have enjoyed providing them valuable information about Topic X.
  • Let them know you are in the process (or you have already built) a site filled with information about Topic Y.
  • Provide a quick way for them to SUBSCRIBE to your new list – DO NOT JUST ADD THEM TO YOUR NEW LIST.

If you’ve built up a reputation for providing valuable information about Topic X, and Topic Y is something that they’re interested in, they will follow you over to your new list.

4 – They Unsubscribe Because You Email Too Often

When someone shares their email address with you, they’re taking the first step in developing a trusting relationship with you and your company. Don’t take advantage by overmailing.

Sure – you can go through a period of promoting an offer and you can send a series of emails – but don’t send something every day unless you were clear when they signed up that they would get daily emails from you.

So how often is TOO often? It varies by topic – and as I mentioned, if you’re sending Daily Reflections (for example) then they’re expecting daily communications from you – but typically you shouldn’t mail more than once a week. However, if you don’t have anything to say that week, don’t send an email.

Remember – you’re not the only one hitting their Inbox – be respectful.

5 – They Unsubscribe Because You Don’t Email Often Enough

Just like Reason #4, you want to make sure you’re communicating with your list often enough so that they don’t forget who you are and what help you can provide for them.

If it’s been a while (more than 3 months) since you’ve sent an email to your list, write a series of at least 3 relevant emails, covering targeted topics and create an email series in your ESP. Then schedule the series to send every 5 days and start “warming up” your list again. As those email are sending, start working on a Content Calendar, or go through your existing site content, and create additional emails to be sent every other week or so. This will put your list on a good “holding cycle” until you have a targeted offer to send or specific information about something new from your company.

6 – They Unsubscribe Because They Just Don’t Feel Like Hearing From You Anymore

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you will still get someone that unsubscribes from your email list. This is particularly painful when you have a small list – but sometimes people just unsubscribe. There may be a reason behind it – there may not be – the important thing is for you to not stress about it, rarely does it have anything to do with you (as long as you follow best practices).

Plus, a small, active lists (people opening and clicking) are more likely to be rated as valuable by SPAM filters – and it will improve your likelihood of staying out of the SPAM folder.

Remember – your email marketing strategy is built to help you solidify your relationship with your prospects and buyers. Email marketing can turn your prospects into buyers, and your buyers into loyal ambassadors of your business.