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10 Ways to Improve Your Email Unsubscribe Rate

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Email Marketing, Marketing

If you are an online merchant, you are likely using some form of email marketing campaign. In today’s digital world, email is the easiest and most effective way for businesses to acquire & communicate with customers. In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, emails are nearly 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.

However, creating effective emails can be difficult, and if not done right, your emails will just be overlooked or people will unsubscribe all together. It’s one thing if your emails are simply being ignored, but if people are actually taking the action to unsubscribe, something needs to improve! Of course this is inevitable, but you should still aim to avoid it. Generally, a healthy unsubscribe rate is less than 0.5%. If yours is higher than this, or you just want to take proactive steps to make the best of your email marketing campaign, here are 10 tips to improve your email unsubscribe rate.



With fines up to $10 million for violating the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, it’s important that your email campaigns are CASL compliant! If you haven’t already done so, clean up your contact lists by making sure everyone on the list has opted in and expressed consent to receive your emails. While this may reduce the number of people your emails go out to, it will likely improve the quality of your contacts. Those who opt in are more likely to be the ones who are actually interested in receiving your emails, thus less likely to unsubscribe.

Related: Everything You Should Know About CASL


We’ve all heard this plenty of times, but I think it’s important to reiterate – content is king! If your emails provide no value to your subscribers, it’s junk. Your emails should be something that subscribers want to receive and open. To provide the most value in your emails, make it easy to read and include relevant information. This will keep subscribers engaged and interested to continue receiving emails.



There’s a reason why personalization is such a big priority for many marketers – it helps companies stand out and be memorable! Having relevant information on your emails will not only help decrease the unsubscribe rate, but also increase the chance that the reader actually clicks on the email. Take advantage of the data you have on your customers to personalize your emails. It can be as simple as adding the subscribers name to the email copy or sending them location based content.

Related: Personalized Email Marketing: Improve Open Rates and Conversions


This is a case in which more does not mean more! You want to send enough emails to your subscribers to stay top of mind, if you have months of no emails and then send some out of the blue, it can suddenly feel like random spam. If you send too much, it can also become spam-like. Try to send in your emails consistently so that your subscribers know when to expect it. To ensure consistency, you can schedule your emails in advance. You can also give your subscribers the option of selecting how often they would like to receive your emails. Keep in mind, there is no right amount of emails to send, so perform email frequency tests to determine the best strategy for you.



Segmenting your email lists is key to successfully personalizing your email campaign. This allows you to target certain groups of consumers making sure that you send only the most relevant emails to your subscribers. For example, you can segment lists based on the subscriber location. If one of your store locations has a sale, you can send an email to those in that specific location. That way, people in LA aren’t getting emails about a sale happening in Toronto.

Related: Mini Tutorial: How to Segment Email Lists in Listrak


Similar to allowing your subscribers to choose how often they receive your emails, you can let them choose the type of emails to receive. For example, they can choose to receive only promotional emails or only news update emails. Giving this choice to your subscribers will help your unsubscribe rate since consumers will only be receiving what they actually want.



Did you know 66% of emails were opened on a mobile device during Q1 2014? That’s right, people are checking their emails from smartphones and tablets more often than from a desktop. What this means is, make sure your emails can be opened and loaded quickly on mobile devices so that you can reach more consumers and reduce the risk of losing subscribers. To make your emails mobile friendly, make sure its responsive and that design elements render well. Just in case your images don’t load, try to design your emails in such a way that it will still make sense.

Related: Make the Switch to Responsive Email Design


Sometimes, the reason for unsubscribing can be a very simple fix. For example, maybe they just don’t use that email anymore or they want less emails. When someone clicks the unsubscribe button, instead of automatically removing them from your mailing list, try to offer an alternative means of communication or an incentive to retain them. This is the idea of opting-down rather than opting-out. Take this as an opportunity to further engage with your subscribers.


At the end of the day, no matter how hard you try, you will inevitably lose some subscribers, and that’s okay! But before they are gone forever, try to get feedback on why they are unsubscribing. You can get some vital information on what you need to improve on so that you can prevent other subscribers from leaving as well. More importantly, once you get the feedback, act on it! In the online world, things are always changing and new things are always popping up. If you want to stay on top, you need to change along with everyone else and constantly become better, so look at your data and see how you can improve your strategy moving forward.



Whether the click was a mistake or someone just changed their mind, people can resubscribe! Rather than making them start from scratch, make resubscribing easy – they’ll be more likely to click one button than go through the entire sign up process again.

Now that you have an idea of how you can improve your email unsubscribe rate, go ahead and test them! Make note of what works and what doesn’t. I always say, you can’t rely on just one solution and expect it to work for everyone because one size most certainly, does not fit all! So remember to test and monitor your email marketing efforts. If you have any other tips to share or have any questions, share them in the comments below!

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