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Why Do People Unsubscribe?

Whether you do email marketing, publish an RSS feed, or both, you will inevitably have customers that choose to unsubscribe from your communications. However, you may be able to limit the number of customers who do so. According to a recent report by ExactTarget, there are a variety of reasons why a person may unsubscribe. By understanding why customers unsubscribe from various communications, marketers can learn which marketing mistakes to avoid and keep their subscribers.

They Receive Emails Too Often
The number one reason subscribers unsubscribe to opt-in email lists is the frequency with which they receive email; customers on an email list that is contacted too often will typically feel "spammed" and grow annoyed, and the list will therefore garner a higher unsubscriber rate than one that is contacted less often. The dilemma responsible for this sort of unsubscription is that marketers need to convey their message, but their audiences will undoubtedly shrink if they abuse their email lists. As is true with many aspects of marketing, creating a balance in communications with one's subscribers is vital.

They Become Bored
The second most common reason behind unsubscriptions is that subscribers no longer find the content to which they are subscribed compelling. In these cases, subscribers have come to find the content repetitive and boring. This problem can best be prevented by getting to know one's subscribers. The better a marketer knows their audience, the easier it will be for them to retain their audience's interest by catering the content they produce to their subscribers' needs and desires.

They Are Confused about the Subscriptions
They Have Made Subscribers often report unsubscribing because the content they were receiving was not what they expected. The only way to minimize the risk of this sort of unsubscription is to make sure that it is clear to visitors what content they will receive should they subscribe. In addition to this potential confusion, many consumers also report unsubscribing because they thought that they were accepting a one-time offer. Make sure the subscription process is clear to potential subscribers so that they understand what subscribing means and what they will receive.

Their Circumstances Have Changed
Of course, there will always be subscribers whose circumstances or situations have changed so that the content to which they are subscribed is no longer pertinent or related to what they are doing. There is very little marketers can do to prevent this.

They Forget About Their Subscriptions
A large portion of subscribers forget that they have subscribed to a publication, newsletter, or other form of communication, and may unsubscribe from this content upon realizing that they are subscribed to it. This cause of unsubscriptions is once again dependent entirely on the customer; there is little a marketer can do in the case of subscribers who merely have faulty memories.

They Are Offended by the Content
They Have Received Occasionally, people make political or religious references in communications with their subscribers that may offend some of them. When this occurs, those offended often unsubscribe for personal reasons. Unless they are posted on a personal blog or topical outlet, one should refrain from discussing politics, religion, or other controversial issues.

The Content They Receive Is Not Topical
Some subscribers will unsubscribe if they find that the content they receive is not topical. If the newsletter covers a wide range of topics or irrelevant and outdated topics, subscribers may lose interest. Marketers can be sure to present relevant, topical content when possible to avoid unsubscriptions of this sort.

The drain of push marketing has affected how receptive an audience may be. As a result, subscribers are taking back their control by unsubscribing. Respecting the wishes of your subscribers is therefore critical to maintaining a healthy brand with happy, loyal customers.


About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll audio recording and editing software.