11 Practical Tips To Better Handle Email Unsubscribes

Tickets with the word Unsubscribe arranged on the table

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The way you handle your email unsubscribe process is more important than it seems. Ultimately, every company wants to retain as many engaged subscribers for their email list as possible. However, the reality is that not everyone will want to stay on your list forever. 

The average company has a churn or “email unsubscribe rate” of around 0.17%. This means eventually, you are going to lose some of your contacts. How you handle the unsubscribe process influences your brand reputation, your relationship with customers, and even how effectively you can adhere to marketing regulations and compliance standards. 

What’s more, if you fail to handle this process correctly, you could risk more customers marking your content as spam. This harms your deliverability rate, making it even harder for you to reach the customers who want to continue hearing from you. 

So, how can you handle email unsubscribes effectively?

Why You Need an Email Unsubscribe Strategy

Some employees working on unsubscription alert

Dealing with customers who want to unsubscribe from your email list can be complicated, but it’s crucial to get the process right. It’s not a time to start making things difficult for your customers or bombard them with messages trying to convince them to stay. 

A strong email unsubscribe strategy ensures you can:

  • Comply with regulations: The CAN-SPAM Act unsubscribe and GDPR rules governing business marketing messages are extremely strict. They require companies to offer customers an easy way to “opt-out” of marketing messages whenever they choose. Fail to adhere to these guidelines, and you risk hefty fines and even legal action.
  • Avoid spam complaints: If customers can’t easily unsubscribe from your emails but they want to stop hearing from you, they’ll often mark your messages as spam. High spam complaint rates harm your email deliverability, causing future messages to be sent directly to spam folders or even blocked. 
  • Preserve your reputation: Just because customers choose to unsubscribe from your email list doesn’t mean they suddenly hate your brand. They may decide to subscribe again in the future if you show them that you respect their decisions. A good unsubscribe process minimizes the risk of damage to your brand reputation and future relationships. 
  • Improve email marketing efficiency: As tempting as it can be to focus on building a huge email list for your company, quality matters more than quantity. Ultimately, you want to focus your attention and budget on consumers who want to hear from you. Allowing users to easily unsubscribe means you can concentrate on engaging the people who matter most.
  • Access more accurate insights: Unengaged subscribers can have a negative impact on your marketing metrics, influencing your open and click-through rates. By allowing these people to unsubscribe, you can get a more accurate insight into which email campaigns are resonating with your audience. 

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11 Practical Tips for Handling Email Unsubscribe

The key to adhering to CAN-SPAM Act unsubscribe rules and preserving the quality of your email list is developing a straightforward, convenient experience for customers. Here are some practical tips you can use to make the most of your strategy. 

1. Ensure Your Unsubscribe Link is Clearly Visible

This might sound like an obvious tip, but it’s particularly important to ensure you’re complying with CAN-SPAM Act unsubscribe rules. Marketing regulatory bodies require all companies to make it easy for their consumers to unsubscribe by including an unsubscribe link in every email. 

Though it might be tempting to hide your unsubscribe link or make it difficult to find, this simply increases your risk of non-compliance and customers sending your messages to the spam folder. Include an easy-to-find link or button at the bottom of every email, like TicketMaster does here:

A screenshot of a computerDescription automatically generated

Ensure the link is easy to see, and be consistent about its placement. Most email automation tools allow you to create templates that include the “unsubscribe” link or button in the footer of each message. Remember, this isn’t just etiquette; it’s marketing law. 

2. Simplify the Unsubscribing Process

As well as making your unsubscribe link easy to find, there are other ways you can simplify the process for your users. Remember, your aim here is to ensure people can opt-out as quickly and effortlessly as possible. The more difficult the process, the more frustrated your customers become. 

Some quick ways to streamline things include:

  • Using clear language: Make sure you use clear language for your unsubscribe link. Avoid any vague terms. Just use “unsubscribe,” “opt-out,” or “click here to stop receiving emails.
  • Make sure the button works: Check to ensure your unsubscribe link or button actually works. It should immediately transport users to an unsubscribe page where they can finish the process in just a couple of seconds. 
  • Don’t make users login: Don’t force users to log into an account to unsubscribe from your email newsletter. This just adds time and complexity to the process. They should be able to simply enter their email address to finish the process. 
an Arket form to unsubsribe from their newsletter with black button

3. Don’t Send Email Unsubscribe Confirmation Messages

This is a common faux pause in the email marketing world, but it’s something all businesses should avoid. Sending a confirmation message to your customer after they unsubscribe can seem like a good way to convince them to change their mind, as Best Made does here:

A screenshot of a emailDescription automatically generated

However, the reality is that sending this message just shows customers you aren’t really respecting their decision. When customers unsubscribe from your email, they expect to stop hearing from you immediately. That means no more messages for any reason. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t tell your customers you’re sorry to see them go when they’re finishing the unsubscribe process on your website. HubSpot does this brilliantly, letting the customer know their changes have been noted and asking them to follow them on social media instead:

HubSpot Unsubscribe email template

4. Do Create a Dedicated Unsubscribe Page

As mentioned above, creating an unsubscribe page is a great way to streamline the process for your customers and give your customers one last insight into what they’re going to be missing. 

Create a page on your website that customers can be redirected to as soon as they click the “unsubscribe button.” This page should include all of the information your customers need to unsubscribe and a simple button to complete the process. However, it’s also a great place to:

  • Ask customers to reconsider: On your unsubscribe page, you can ask customers to confirm if they absolutely want to leave your list. You might also offer them the option to change their email preferences (we’ll cover this in detail below). 
  • Remind them of the benefits: Take the opportunity to remind customers of the benefits of staying on your email list. Let them know they’ll be missing out on valuable things, like exclusive discount codes or the latest content and news. 
  • Ask them to follow you elsewhere: Give your customers an opportunity to engage with your business outside of the email inbox. A few social media buttons on your unsubscribe page can ensure you don’t lose access to potential customers completely. 
Unsubscribe Email Templates | 6 Examples to Inspire You

5. Leave a Lasting Impression

Sometimes, consumers who unsubscribe from your email newsletter can still be valuable parts of your audience. Even if a customer doesn’t want to see messages from you in their inbox, they can still follow you on social media, promote your brand through word-of-mouth, and buy from you.

That’s why it’s so important to leave a positive, lasting impression on your audience at the end of the email unsubscribe journey. Groupon is excellent at this. When you click the “unsubscribe” button, you’re directed to a page where you can confirm your decision. 

Groupon Unsubscribe email template

After clicking the “unsubscribe” button, you see a GIF of a man named Derrick sitting at his desk. This little bit of humor from Groupon reminds customers of the brand’s fun personality and makes it more likely buyers will want to interact with the business again. 

6. Let Customers Personalize their Email Experience

Sometimes, when customers click the “unsubscribe” button on your emails, it’s not because they don’t want to hear from you at all. They may appreciate receiving messages about certain things, such as discounts or blog topics they’re interested in. However, if you send a lot of marketing emails, your customers might feel overwhelmed by too much contact. 

When customers visit your unsubscribe page, ask them whether they want to unsubscribe entirely or just change the experience based on what they want to hear about. Allowing consumers to choose which messages they receive may convince them to stick with your brand for longer. 

Most email automation tools will allow you to segment customers based on their interests to ensure you’re sending the right content to the right people. 


This not only reduces your email unsubscribe rate but it also means your marketing strategy will be more likely to engage and delight your followers. 

7. Give Your Customers a Range of Options

Allowing your customers to choose what kind of content they receive is just one way you can boost your chances of keeping them on your email list. The more options you give your consumers about how they interact with you, the more likely they are to stick around. 

For instance, you could allow customers to:

  • Choose their ideal email frequency: Some customers will be happy to receive all kinds of content from you, but they might not want an email once a day. Allow them to “opt down” to a slower cadence that matches their preferences. 
  • Change their email address: On average, most customers have around 1.86 email accounts. They may not want to hear from you on their work email address or the address they use most often, but they could be happy to receive your messages elsewhere.
  • Pause their emails: If customers aren’t sure whether they want to continue hearing from you or not, you can offer them the option to take a vacation. Allow them to pause their subscription for a week or a month before they unsubscribe completely. 
Prevent unsubscribes: 6 tips for unsubscribes alternatives

8. Find Out Why Customers are Unsubscribing

Customers unsubscribe from email newsletters for a variety of reasons. Some people may no longer be interested in your products; others might think your content isn’t valuable. 

The only way to determine how you can improve your email marketing strategy is to find out what’s driving customers away. While you shouldn’t send surveys and questions to customers via email after they unsubscribe, you can include a quick survey on the “unsubscribe page.” Barneys, New York, showcases an excellent example of this strategy:


You can give your customers a range of common “checkbox” options to choose from if they’re pressed for time, as well as allow them to share more details in a comment box. 

9. Send Unsubscribe Prompts to Active Users

If, like most companies, you hate the idea of losing customers on your email list, you might wonder why you would consider actively prompting people to unsubscribe. The simple answer is that asking people whether they want to unsubscribe gives you a quick and easy way to clean your email list.

Inactive users in your list consume more of your marketing budget and don’t contribute to high conversion rates. Additionally, a prompt can be an excellent way to re-engage inactive users, reminding them why they should be opening your emails. 

There are two ways you can approach this method. One option is to automatically unsubscribe inactive users from your list yourself like Fab does here: 


This ensures if customers do want to hear from you, they have to actively opt-in to your newsletter again, improving your chances of connecting with more engaged consumers. 

Alternatively, you can simply send a message letting inactive users know they can unsubscribe if they want, change their email preferences, or connect with your business in a different way. 

10. Monitor Unsubscribe Trends

As mentioned above, the more information you can gather about your customers and the reasons they unsubscribe from your email list, the easier it will be to optimize your future campaigns. Collecting insights and feedback through surveys is just one strategy. 

You can also use your email marketing tools for in-depth insights into valuable metrics and analytics. Using your tools, you can track whether more people in a specific segment are unsubscribing or whether your unsubscribe rates increase or decrease after certain campaigns. 

You can also get an insight into how long consumers are likely to remain “inactive” on your list before they hit the unsubscribe button. This can help you determine when to reach out and “re-engage” your followers in the future. 

11. Update Your Email Strategy

Finally, while it’s common for a handful of customers to choose to unsubscribe from your email newsletter over time, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to reduce your churn rate. The best way to keep customers around for longer is to upgrade your email marketing strategy. 

Focus on consistently delivering value to your audience with emails that address their specific needs. For instance, you might share exclusive discounts and content through email, making it more likely your customers will look forward to hearing from you. You can also:

  • Improve your segmentation strategy: Effectively segmenting your email list ensures you can send more relevant, personalized content to the right people. The more advanced your segmentation strategy, the better able you’ll be to deliver the right content to your audience.
  • Optimize your email content: Ensure customers get an excellent experience when they’re interacting with your messages. Use the right template, and ensure it loads quickly on all devices. Reduce the amount of copy in your email marketing messages, and get straight to the point when delivering value to readers. 
  • Experiment with cadence: Rethink how often you send emails to your target audience. Most consumers won’t want to be bombarded with multiple messages a day. Use A/B testing tools within your marketing platform to see how cadence and frequency influence subscriber engagement and churn rates. 

Master the Email Unsubscribe Process

A woman opening door for unsubscribe

Having a good email unsubscribe strategy in place isn’t just essential for staying compliant with industry regulations. It’s also crucial to preserving your brand reputation, improving relationships with customers, and even optimizing your email marketing strategy. 

The tips above should help you to take the right approach to managing email unsubscribe rates. However, if you need more help mastering your email strategy or improving your marketing results, reach out to Growth Collective for help from an email marketing expert. 


What is a good unsubscribe rate for emails?

Ultimately, a good unsubscribe rate is anything lower than 0.5%. However, it’s worth noting that email unsubscribes can fluctuate for different industries and marketing campaigns. Keep an eye on your rate to ensure you’re engaging subscribers. 

Why is my unsubscribe rate so high?

If a lot of people are unsubscribing from your emails, there could be numerous factors at play. There might be a problem with the content you’re sending not delivering value. Your customers might not appreciate your email frequency, or your emails may be difficult to load and read.

How do you reduce email unsubscribe rates?

The best way to minimize email unsubscribe rates is to deliver high-quality content to your audience. Segment your customers so you can send more personalized messages, and experiment with email frequency to ensure you’re not sending too many messages. Giving customers the option to personalize their email experience can help to reduce churn, too.

Rebekah Carter
Former company
About Author
Rebekah is a dedicated writer with years of experience producing exceptional content for brands around the globe. Her commitment to producing the best possible content means she’s constantly developing new skills and experience.
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