The Hidden Cost of Unsubscribes

Posted by Jake Curtis 

How often do you think about unsubscribes from your program? When you do, you’re probably looking at the average campaign unsubscribe rate—the total number of unsubscribes divided by total emails delivered for a given campaign. While that’s important, paying attention to the annual unsubscribe rate across all campaigns is equally as important as looking only at the campaign level could be masking a larger unsubscribe problem. To help you uncover any potential issues, Return Path has launched our new Unsubscribe Calculator, a simple tool that helps you estimate the number of subscribers that have churned from your email program over the course of a year.

What is considered a “good” campaign unsubscribe rate anyway? Across all industries, 0.12 percent is considered average, according to Experian’s Quarterly Email Benchmark Report. However, even a seemingly “good” campaign unsubscribe rate can quickly chip away at your list, especially if you are not properly managing your send frequency.

Let’s explore an example with that “good” unsubscribe rate: a marketer with a list of two million subscribers sending two promotional emails per week with a campaign unsubscribe rate of 0.12 percent churns through almost 250,000 subscribers each year. This means that they are losing an eighth of their list every year! What first appeared like a normal, healthy campaign unsubscribe rate now looks like a serious problem. The problem becomes even bigger when you think about how much time and resources you put towards acquiring those subscribers, and how much time and money will be spent making up for the loss.

Check out the Unsubscribe Calculator and see how unsubscribes are affecting your subscriber list. If you are concerned about what you see, a potential way to diagnose the biggest drivers of unsubscribes is to survey subscribers at the point of unsubscribe, something many email service providers offer.

Based on our experience, frequency is the most commonly cited reason for unsubscribing. We believe there is an opportunity for marketers to make a huge impact on their email program and bottom line by better managing frequency. How could retaining a portion of those unsubscribes and simply treating them differently to increase engagement impact your revenue from email? To learn more about how Return Path can help you manage send frequency to optimize engagement, sign up for our Send Frequency Optimization beta program today!

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