Digital Marketing Email Marketing

3 Reasons to ask your Customers to Unsubscribe

Written by Fiona Blinco

Why you want to ask them to unsubscribe


Email marketing is all about adding people to your list right?  So why would you ask people to unsubscribe?  We’ll give you three good reasons.


In Australia we are allowed to include people in our email marketing list if they could reasonably be expected to be added. For example, people you’ve exchanged business cards with, or clients, could reasonably expect to be added to your newsletter list. Most businesses, if they are actively managing their email marketing list, will add these people to their list and the emails they receive will have an opt out option, which is required by our privacy legislation. This is usually in small font at the bottom.


But there are times when you want to ask your subscribers to unsubscribe by adding an opt out link/ button as an obvious option at the top of the email in standard font size.


So why, and when, do you put the opt out front and center of your marketing emails?


  1. Opt out or Opt in

One of the first steps to making an email marketing the process is adding a bunch of people to your list who could reasonably be expected to be added and then sending the first email.


The first email could:

  • Include an opt out clause
  • Include an opt in clause
  • Not include any opt in or opt out clause at all


An opt out clause goes something along the lines of:

You’ve been added to our newsletter list. How-ever if you’d prefer not to receive our newsletters, please unsubscribe here.


An opt in clause goes something along the lines of:

We’d like to add you to our newsletter list. If you’d like to receive our news, please subscribe here.


We’ve conducted several tests on the above two types of introductory emails. The opt out has a 5-10% opt out rate. The opt in has a 2-5% opt in rate.


Therefore, out of 100 people, the opt out email averages around 90 – 95 new subscribers and the opt in averages around 2-5 new subscribers.


That’s one good reason when and why to ask people to unsubscribe!


Of course, you could just send them an email with neither a prominent opt out or opt in cause. But sending a marketing email to someone out of the blue, as that is how it will appear to them, is kind of strange. Best to give them an up-front exit strategy as a way to appease any concerns.


  1. The welcome email

Part of a good established email marketing campaign is the welcome email. Often this is an automated email that people receive as they are added to the list.


The welcome email is an important one as first impressions count.


Welcome emails usually have the best open rate of all – it’s the curiosity factor. A list with an average open rate of 30% will hit about 50% on its welcome email.


That makes it one of the most important communication pieces in an email marketing strategy and businesses should aim to do it right.


It’s not often done right. Most times the first email is a cheap grab for a sale. This doesn’t go down well with the new subscriber.


The best welcome emails are very basic. The structure is:

  • Welcome
  • An explanation of how the recipient came to be on your list, for example a reference to the trade show or mutual business acquaintance
  • Photo of yourself, your team, your shop or similar
  • Unsubscribe option


No-one unsubscribes – not straight away anyway. They’re too curious! Eventually some people will unsubscribe from your list but very few people do in response to the invitation in the welcome email.


In our experience with over hundreds of such welcome emails less than 1% of people unsubscribe as a result of providing this option. In other words, 99% remain as subscribers.


Adding the unsubscribe front and centre, and not leaving it only to the small font at the bottom, builds trust with the newly added subscriber.  They have an immediate sense that you won’t be spamming them with unwanted emails.


  1. The annual unsubscribe email

A typical example clause in the annual unsubscribe email is:

Is it your New Year’s Resolution to clean up your inbox?  Are we on your bin list?  We’d be sorry to see you go, but if you need to, unsubscribe here.


You’d also add all the great reasons to stay on the list, giving a sneak peak into what you’ll be sharing with your subscribers in the year ahead.


About 2% of people will unsubscribe as a result of being given this option. Sad as it is to see them go, it’s good for your list health and your email deliverability, to only have people on the list who really want to be on it.


Increasingly businesses with big lists, that is anything over 5,000, are having difficulty with emails landing in their subscriber’s junk folder. And worryingly for them, their email providers are blocking them from sending to their list at all, or portions of it, if they have high bounce rates.


Keeping your list lean will avoid, or lessen, the chance your email service provider will penalize you for what they see as spamming.


The other beauty with the annual unsubscribe email is that it builds trust for the 98% who choose to stay on.


By all means, keep adding people to your list and grow the power of your email marketing. But offering an opt out is a great way to keep your list clean and healthy.



“The opinions expressed by BizWitty Contributors are their own, not those of BizCover and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice. Please read our full disclaimer."

About the author

Fiona Blinco

Fiona Blinco is the owner of DIY Digital, specialising in online marketing for small businesses in Adelaide.  She regularly helps clients with, and gives presentations on, websites, MailChimp and Google.

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