Unsubscribes aren’t such a bad thing!


With GDPR just around the corner, there are lots of business owners worrying about renewing consent for the people they have on their mailing list. I’m not here to comment on the rights or wrongs of that, but to talk about whether you should be worrying about unsubscribes. By that, I mean those people that choose NOT to stay on your mailing list and click on the ‘Unsubscribe’ link that should appear at the bottom.

I’ve had various conversations over time with people who hate to get unsubscribes in response to a carefully crafted email they sent out. But when you think about it, an unsubscribe is a good thing!


Your mailing list should contain people from very few categories.

  1. Existing customers / clients. People who have signed up to your product or service, and who therefore know you and have entered into a contract with you. Your job now is to keep them up to date with your business and developments, remind them that you are there so that they may buy from you again, stay as a client, or introduce you to new customers.
  2. Potential customers / clients. People who have expressed an interest in your business, your products or your services, and in this GDPR world, who you have a legal right to contact.
  3. Previous customers / clients. Those who have bought from you in the past and who want to stay in touch to keep up to date with what you are up to now.

And that’s pretty much it!

If you’re sending emails out to people that are in one of these categories but who don’t value the content of that information, then they’ll unsubscribe. This tells you the following:

  1. They don’t value the information you’re sending.
  2. They are unlikely to become a customer again, or to refer you to others.

If this is the case, you should be happy that they have fed that back to you, as you can now concentrate on the other people on your list, who ARE interested. You’ll get better open rates on your emails, and a smaller list to deal with.

One of the comments I saw most as business owners were struggling to implement GDPR was that they were worried about losing people from their mailing list, who didn’t respond to requests to provide renewed consent for emails and other marketing.

A mailing list shouldn’t be a numbers game, with the person with the biggest list being the winner. The winner instead should be the business with the best quality list, and that means the list with the best potential to convert its members into customers.

I’d prefer to have a small list of quality contacts who like what we do and value the information that we send, every time, and I’d recommend that you adopt the same mindset.

Watch out for your unsubscribes and be grateful when they come through, as you have one less distraction to deal with!

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