What Is A ‘Normal’ Unsubscribe Rate for an Email List?

Several years ago I moved my still-tiny “Sublime Text Tips” email list from Aweber to MailChimp.

MailChimp had a feature where they'd send you a daily email update on your list growth.

Seemed cool, so I set it up.

Every morning I'd get a message:

4 New Subscribers
4 Unsubscribed
515 List Subscribers

Let me tell you, nothing would ruin my morning faster than getting whacked with a bunch of unsubscribes.

What am I doing wrong?!?

How can I stop the bleeding?!?

Why me?

Subscriber Jason is feeling that pain right now.

He asks:

I have a question. What is a reasonable unsubscribe rate? I'm averaging between 0.7% and 1% per email. And it hurts. Because I put so much work (and money) into building my list, and every email I send out, I lose subscribers. Should I worry about this? If I send 4 emails a month, that's an unsubscribe rate of between 2.8% and 4% per month – which seems significant.

If this is a high unsubscribe rate, then I'm a bit confused, because it seems like my list likes my content. I get an average open rate of between 35%-45%, and an average click-through of about 10%-15%. (My spam complaints come in at about 0.05% per email).

When your list is small like mine was back in the day, those unsubscribes can be AGONIZING.

Your email list can start to feel like a revolving door—10 subscribers in, 10 subscribers out.

Will the madness ever end?

What I've learned since then is that there is a certain amount of “list churn” that's inevitable—healthy even.

My rule of thumb is that you can count on losing about 0.5% to 1% of your list per week to unsubscribes.

This tends to be true regardless of how often you email.

For example, on this list my unsubscribe rate is very low—only around 0.2% per email.

Part of the reason for that, though, is I'm emailing 5 days a week.

And 5 x 0.2% is (say it with me now)… 1%.

On lists where the email frequency is lower, say 1-2X per week, the unsubscribe rate on a given email will usually jump to 0.5% to 1%.

This “churn” is completely normal.

People unsubscribe for a million reasons.

Yes, it's possible you offended them.

More likely they're just stressed out by getting too much email.

Maybe they've moved on in their life and they're not interested in your topic anymore.

Or maybe they tapped the Unsubscribe button by mistake.

So don't take it personally.

Don't let it ruin your day.

Just keep writing and sending the best emails you can.

For more on how to do that, go here:

http://joshuaearl.com/products/six-figure-email-course

Aziz Ali - January 18, 2017

Thanks for adding this layer of clarity.

I also get stressed about sending emails thinking I will upset them

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