6 Reasons Why Readers Unsubscribe (and What to Do About It)

6 Reasons Why Readers Unsubscribe (and What to Do About It)

6 Reasons Why Readers Unsubscribe (and What to Do About It)

Understanding why readers might hit “unsubscribe” can be crucial for maintaining a strong email list, so we’ve gathered insights from content marketers and digital strategists to help. From managing email frequency and being authentic to avoiding email spam triggers, explore six expert strategies to keep your subscribers engaged and prevent them from leaving.

  • Manage Email Frequency and Be Authentic
  • Provide Value-Driven Content
  • Nurture Kindred Spirits, Avoid Sales Pitch Overload
  • Personalize Beyond First Names
  • Optimize Emails for Mobile Devices
  • Avoid Email Spam Triggers

Manage Email Frequency and Be Authentic

One prevalent cause for email unsubscribes revolves around the sheer volume of messages bombarding inboxes. Surprisingly, 78% of users opt out when they feel inundated by emails, as per a recent study.

Businesses can avert this by meticulously managing their email frequency, allowing users the autonomy to select their preferred communication cadence. Moreover, a lack of authenticity in content can also lead to disengagement. This is where leveraging user-generated content (UGC) comes into play. Incorporating genuine content from users not only adds authenticity but also enhances the overall email experience.

Striking a delicate balance in communication frequency and integrating authentic content ensures not only subscriber retention but also establishes a more meaningful connection with the audience.

Adrija MilanAdrija Milan
Content Marketer, Tagbox

Provide Value-Driven Content

People unsubscribe because they don’t see value in your content. Always try to think of your audience first and what they’ll find valuable. It can be tempting to want to focus on your new product and all the fancy bells and whistles, but if you don’t relate it back to your audience and why they should care, you’ll lose them. Instead of ‘our product does X,’ reframe it as ‘we just solved your pain point.’

Liz KelleyLiz Kelley
Content Marketing Manager, Focus Lab

Nurture Kindred Spirits, Avoid Sales Pitch Overload

An unpopular truth is that not every lead is worth keeping. In chasing broad appeal, we water down our vision and strain to contort it for the wrong fits. Readers sense when our message rings hollow and tune out.

Rather than bend over backward trying to retain each subscriber, we should nurture only kindred spirits who resonate with our core ethos. This allows us to create truer connections and deepen engagement within that tribe.

Beyond that, readers flee from relentless selling. They seek enrichment, not conversion with each email. We prevent unsubscribes by leading with value, not pitches. Share what inspires you and brings more light to readers’ lives.

If your editorial calendar revolves around product launches, promos, and profit, expect bounces. Instead, cultivate engagement through impact and meaning.

Organizations so often obsess over scale when niche focus breeds truer success. Our tribe may be smaller, but engagement runs far deeper. And isn’t that what we’re all truly chasing?

Mona Kirstein, Ph.D.Mona Kirstein, Ph.D.
Digital Strategist, Holistic Coach & Consultant, The Wholehearted Path

Personalize Beyond First Names

A lack of personalization within the email is a huge reason why readers unsubscribe. While having their first name is a great start, software makes it quite easy nowadays to customize an email further, for example, to include content narrowed down to a topic of interest.

For our e-commerce websites and clients, for example, we ask the subscriber for the types of products they’re interested in and email them only about these products rather than a larger email with less personalization.

Germaine MullerGermaine Muller
Founder & Managing Director, Futuretheory

Optimize Emails for Mobile Devices

Not optimizing email correspondence for the requirements of mobile phones is one reason many internet users decide to unsubscribe.

Society, dependent on smartphones, values clear, immediate, and user-friendly communication. An individual has no time for second-guessing. So, if the message does not adhere to the specifications needed for display on mobile devices, one can be sure their recipients will lose interest in their content.

The market is saturated with businesses that want to captivate the audience’s attention. If you don’t want to lag behind due to unsuitable technicalities, consider hiring a professional. An experienced UX designer will optimize your content to meet the expectations of mobile users. They will ensure the message you want to share is legible and plausible at first glance.

Losing subscribers is the worst scenario for any marketer. Time is money, so make sure your correspondence does not require further deciphering.

Martyna SzczesniakMartyna Szczesniak
Community Expert, MyPerfectResume

Avoid Email Spam Triggers

One main reason readers unsubscribe is when the email content triggers spam filters, making the whole email look like spam. To prevent this, focus on avoiding spam triggers in your email campaigns. Create concise and relevant subject lines, use a balanced mix of text and images, and avoid excessive use of all caps or exclamation points.

By being mindful of spam filters and delivering valuable, non-intrusive content, you can increase the chances of keeping your audience engaged and reducing unsubscribes.

Johannes LarssonJohannes Larsson
Founder and CEO, JohannesLarsson.com

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9 Millennial-Friendly Email Marketing Tips

9 Millennial-Friendly Email Marketing Tips

9 Millennial-Friendly Email Marketing Tips

To engage the millennial audience effectively through email marketing, we’ve gathered insights from industry experts, including growth strategists and marketing managers. From incorporating visuals and transparency to ensuring your emails come with a name, explore the nine savvy tips these professionals recommend for making your email marketing resonate with millennials.

  • Incorporate Visuals and Transparency
  • Leverage the P.S. Statement
  • Keep Emails Short and to the Point
  • Personalize Content and Optimize for Mobile
  • Emphasize Cultural Sensitivity in Content
  • Craft Irresistible Subject Lines
  • Embrace Visual Storytelling
  • Highlight Sustainability Efforts
  • Ensure Emails Have a Name Attached

Incorporate Visuals and Transparency

Studies indicate that 64% of millennials find email newsletters effective for brand connections. Notably, email is a potent channel, influencing the purchase decisions of 50.7% of millennial customers. So, here are three elements that you can implement to make your email more millennial-friendly.

First and foremost, visuals are crucial for marketing, no matter your audience, so here’s where we’ll start. Focus on visually engaging content that both grabs attention and is authentic. Millennials care about a business’s values, so keep consistent and transparent.

Also, ensure that your emails are mobile-friendly. The majority of millennials tend to check their emails before their workday and much prefer email marketing compared to other channels. Optimize the design for smaller screens.

Finally, create a strong call to action that prompts millennials to take immediate and clear steps. Whether it’s making a purchase, signing up for an event, or sharing content on social media, a compelling CTA enhances engagement and encourages action.

Michaella MastersMichaella Masters
Growth Strategist, Codific

Leverage the P.S. Statement

One tip for making your email marketing more millennial-friendly is to creatively utilize the P.S. statement. Millennials, known for their quick consumption of content, often skim emails. A compelling postscript at the end of your emails can catch their attention and deliver a punchy, memorable message.

Use this space for your most important call to action, a special discount code, or an intriguing piece of information. This not only revives interest but also adds a personal touch, making it more likely for millennials to engage with your content and take the desired action.

Jaya IyerJaya Iyer
Marketing Manager, Teranga Digital Marketing LTD

Keep Emails Short and to the Point

Do you want to appeal to millennials with your email marketing? Here’s a great piece of advice: Make sure it’s brief, sharp, and visually appealing!

Emails should be concise and effective because millennials value material that is short and to the point. Create compelling subject lines that will make readers curious and want to click through. Remember to include visually stimulating content in your emails, such as pictures or videos, to increase reader engagement and sharing. These pointers can help you draw in millennials and increase the exposure and interaction of your business.

Simon BriskSimon Brisk
Founder and SEO Strategist, Click Intelligence

Personalize Content and Optimize for Mobile

One tip I can offer is to personalize your content and make it relevant to their interests and preferences. Millennials value authenticity and personalized experiences, so tailoring your email campaigns to their specific needs can significantly improve engagement. Segment your email list based on demographics, behaviors, or preferences, and create targeted content that resonates with each segment.

Incorporate dynamic content, such as personalized recommendations or exclusive offers, to make the emails feel more personalized and relevant. Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure that your emails are mobile-friendly, as millennials heavily rely on mobile devices for email consumption.

By personalizing your content and optimizing for mobile, you can make your email marketing more appealing and effective for millennial audiences.

Travis WillisTravis Willis
Director of Customer Success, Aspire

Emphasize Cultural Sensitivity in Content

Don’t be a tone-deaf brand. Millennials care about societal issues, so do your best to be culturally sensitive. This is just one of the steps needed to make them loyal customers. You may not be particularly memorable to them at first, but accidentally rolling out controversial content may prove to be detrimental to all future marketing efforts, even beyond their inbox.

Kristel KongasKristel Kongas
CMO, Inboxy OÜ

Craft Irresistible Subject Lines

Crafting irresistible subject lines is pivotal for effective, millennial-friendly email marketing. Engaging headlines capture attention instantly, ensuring your message stands out in cluttered inboxes.

Create subject lines that resonate with the millennial mindset, offering value and relevance. Tailor them to spark curiosity, driving recipients to open emails eagerly. This approach aligns with millennials’ preference for succinct, compelling content that adds immediate value to their lives.

By adopting this strategy, your emails become more than just messages; they become invitations to discover valuable insights, promotions, or opportunities. This straightforward and results-oriented technique enhances the likelihood of your emails being noticed and acted upon in the fast-paced digital landscape, aligning with millennials’ desire for efficiency and meaningful interactions.

Kate ChervenKate Cherven
Marketing Specialist, United Site Services

Embrace Visual Storytelling

The number-one way I make my email marketing content truly millennial-friendly is by embracing visual storytelling through dynamic mediums versus long blocks of text.

Our generation consumes information faster on mobile with limited attention spans. Though I love writing comprehensive side-hustle guides, cramming that much heavy copy into inboxes simply doesn’t compel or retain millennials.

Instead, I focus my subscriber communications on punchy money stats paired with vibrant graphics, optimizing for small screens. I also thread bite-sized side-hustle advice across mini-series emails, building anticipation rather than overloaded one-offs.

The key is conveying financial education visually through easily “skimmable” formats, relying more on strong imagery versus dense paragraphs. Striking graphics, minimalist formatting, and transparency are essentials.

Since tailoring my newsletters for millennial consumption habits, click-through rates have doubled. Remember, writing less while spotlighting visuals makes all the difference for modern audiences. Putting legibility and creativity first resonates much stronger!

Brian MeiggsBrian Meiggs
Founder, My Millennial Guide

Highlight Sustainability Efforts

Millennials are socially conscious consumers who frequently choose brands that are committed to sustainability and social responsibility. In your email campaigns, highlight your brand’s environmentally-friendly methods, ethical sourcing, and community involvement. Share stories about your activities and relationships that help make the world a better place.

By demonstrating your commitment to making a positive difference, you’re more likely to connect with millennials, who actively seek brands that share their beliefs.

Adam CrosslingAdam Crossling
Marketing and New Business Director, Zenzero

Ensure Emails Have a Name Attached

We have to consider that many millennials have encountered an array of spam- and virus-laden emails during the internet’s heyday. They’re more cautious when it comes to opening emails, particularly from senders they’re unfamiliar with.

One vital tip for making your email marketing friendly for millennials is to ensure your email campaign appears genuine and personal. This can be achieved by using a legitimate email with a domain name, preferably one that includes the name of an employee.

For example, company emails starting with ‘info@’ often appear impersonal and are therefore more likely to be dismissed or even flagged as spam. By incorporating a personal touch to your email campaigns, you can build trust and rapport among millennial customers.

David Rubie-ToddDavid Rubie-Todd
Co-Founder and Marketing Head, Sticker It

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49 Mailchimp Design Tips (free PDF download) (so many of our best-kept secrets in this!).


Below you’ll find some of my favorite 2-minute Mailchimp video tips. Enjoy!

VIDEO: Our Best Button/CTA Design Secrets

VIDEO: Mailchimp’s email editor lets you resize images right in your Mailchimp account.

VIDEO: Mailchimp’s nice PDF reports (great for sending to clients)

VIDEO: View this email online.

VIDEO: A cool way to use Mailchimp’s “Image + Text” Block

Don’t End Up in the Spam Folder: 10 Subject Line Mistakes to Avoid

Don't End Up in the Spam Folder: 10 Subject Line Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t End Up in the Spam Folder: 10 Subject Line Mistakes to Avoid

Navigating the treacherous waters of email marketing requires knowing what not to do, especially for crafting that critical subject line. We’ve gathered insights from copywriters and content marketing managers, among others, to pinpoint the top ten subject line missteps that could doom your emails to the spam folder. From avoiding salesy language to skipping dollar signs or mentions of cost, here’s what the experts have to say.

  • Leading with Salesy Words
  • Utilizing All-Caps Text
  • Writing with Spammy Words
  • Adding Exclamation Marks
  • Using Vague, Irrelevant Language
  • Leaving Your Subject Line Incomplete
  • Misleading with the “RE” Prefix
  • Not Naming the Recipient
  • Aggravating with False Urgency
  • Including Dollar Signs or Cost

Leading with Salesy Words

Since teaming up with Michelle Paulhus, our E-Commerce & Retention Director (aka guru of all things e-commerce and email), we agreed to ditch the salesy subject lines.

We keep them short, sweet, and just plain fun—sometimes riffing on a joke that pays off in the newsletter, asking a ridiculous question, or something that seems random but sparks curiosity in the email. Keep them fresh, fun, and full of surprises!

Madeline Soules
Copywriter, OLIPOP

Utilizing All-Caps Text

I’ve written thousands of content pieces online since 2011, and one of several things that has helped me stand out from the rest is avoiding capital letters and exclamation marks. I’m guilty of it too. I used to add exclamation marks to look cool.

The same applies to email subject lines as well. People have short attention spans, and when they see capital letters in subject lines, it sure gets them to pay attention, but it also raises red flags. I’ve never opened an email with all-caps subject lines.

Imagine me writing this in all caps or title case with an exclamation mark!

Shubham DaveyShubham Davey
SEO Copywriter Growing Blogs Organically, Prachar Max

Writing with Spammy Words

A critical mistake is using spammy words in subject lines. These words can trigger spam filters, causing your emails to be missed by your audience and harming your sender reputation.

Words like “free,” “guarantee,” and “limited-time offer” are common culprits. Steering clear of these terms not only helps your emails reach inboxes but also maintains your brand’s credibility. Crafting engaging yet straightforward subject lines without these triggers is key to successful email deliverability and maintaining a positive relationship with your audience.

Marco Genaro PalmaMarco Genaro Palma
Content Marketing Manager, PRLab

Adding Exclamation Marks

I know you might be excited to tell us some news, but anything with all caps tends to push emails directly into the spam folder, rendering your excitement null and void. In addition, emails that break through the spam filter with an all-caps subject line receive a reply 30% less often than those that do not.

Tied together is the use of exclamation points. Digital marketers like to create a sense of urgency so users feel the urge to open their emails, but the combination of all caps and exclamation points will send your emails directly to the spam filter.

Garrett CarlsonGarrett Carlson
Content Marketing Manager, The Loop Marketing

Using Vague, Irrelevant Language

I receive this a lot: “Sorry I missed your email,” says the person who responded three weeks later.

One email subject line mistake that could send an email directly to the spam folder is using vague or irrelevant subject lines, such as “Sorry I missed your email” or “Following Up.” These subject lines may not catch the recipient’s attention and could easily be mistaken for spam, causing the email to be deleted or sent directly to the junk folder.

For me, this is one of the most frustrating email mistakes. Not only does it waste my time and clutter my inbox, but it also shows a lack of professionalism and consideration for others’ time. If a marketer thinks that “Sorry I missed your email” is a suitable subject line, they may not have taken the time to understand their audience and tailor their message accordingly.

If you want to be successful in email marketing, put yourself in your recipient’s shoes. Would you open an email with such a vague and uninteresting subject line? Probably not.

Eric EngEric Eng
Founder and CEO, Private College Admissions Consultant, AdmissionSight

Leaving Your Subject Line Incomplete

An empty or incomplete subject line may be considered suspicious by spam filters. Sometimes the subject line gets missed, or is sent only half-completed when you’re busy and trying to do multiple things at once.

Always provide a clear and concise subject that reflects the content of your email. I also recommend leaning into automation to help you when it comes to having emails prepared and ready to go, and to always proofread and double-check your email before sending it out.

Aaron Davis, CEO and Co-Founder, Exploration

Misleading with the “RE” Prefix

I was clearing my spam box a couple of weeks ago and noticed at least five email subject lines beginning with “RE.” The sender was probably trying to trick me into thinking this was an ongoing conversation, so I would click on their email.

This triggered my curiosity. Does Gmail’s spam filter automatically filter out email subject lines that start with “RE?”

When I looked at their guidelines, it says that the spam filter will get rid of misleading emails. This means that using “RE” in subject lines shows spam filters that you’re trying to trick the recipient.

Scott LiebermanScott Lieberman
Owner, Touchdown Money

Not Naming the Recipient

One surefire way to get your emails caught by the most basic spam filter is not customizing your subject lines at all. If you have your contact’s name or business name, include them in the email subject to make your emails more unique and look less like spam.

Justin SilvermanJustin Silverman
Founder and CEO, Merchynt

Aggravating with False Urgency

There’s a long list of words and phrases that will sweep your message into the spam folder before your reader ever gets to view it. These phrases typically have to do with creating false urgency (act now!) or false promises (100% free). Spam filters are imperfect, and sometimes they can bury legitimate offers out of caution, but they reduce the risk of fraud or harm to the reader. So, consider your word choice before you hit send. You don’t want your business to get lumped in with any shady activity.

Even if your email isn’t automatically sorted into spam, your subject line could earn you a one-way ticket out of your reader’s inbox if you’re not careful. With so many people feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of messages they receive, a little empathy can go a long way. Instead of writing subject lines that ask your reader to spend or take action, consider how your email can help solve a problem they’re facing. Demonstrating that you understand your audience can make your emails more relevant and less expendable.

Ashley LaabsAshley Laabs
Thought Leadership Coach and LinkedIn Ghostwriter, Composure Digital

Including Dollars Signs or Cost

As an Enterprise SaaS sales rep, I’m well-versed in bypassing spam filters after sending tens of thousands of automated cold emails, and hundreds of personalized cold emails over the past several years.

Google will flag anything that mentions price or cost as going directly to spam. Dollar signs ($$$), “FREE” in capital letters, “Act now,” “Buy Now!!!,” “100% discount,” or anything with excessive punctuation and/or urgency will send you straight to email jail.

How do I know? I’ve A/B tested all the above phrases, and similar variations, in different cadences, from different email domains. And any time I’ve tested any subject line with even a hint of urgency, the open rates are abysmal.

My advice is to keep your subject line low-friction and low-pressure, and relevant to whatever email it is that you’re sending. At one company I worked for, out of all the different subject lines we tested and tried, the best-performing one was “Intro.” Sometimes simplicity is best!

Adam PurvisAdam Purvis
Founder, AdamJohnPurvis.com

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