Our buddy Sire recently wrote a post titled Why Do People Unsubscribe From Your List. It was an intriguing little post that asked the question more than attempted to answer it. He’s fairly new to the list game; I only have one email list, and that’s for my own leadership newsletter.


by Bàrbara Bessa via Flickr

Still, I’ve had it for about 8 years now (man, no wonder I’m tired), and I’ve been on many other lists. Initially I thought that maybe he asked the question wrong. My thinking was that people don’t unsubscribe from lists, per se, but from newsletters or blogs or other types of things. Then I thought about it and using “list” or “lists” covers all of these things, so I came back to it.

Back to the topic; why do people unsubscribe from lists. It’s an intriguing question; let’s come up with some answers:

1. Too many emails. This is probably the biggest reason people unsubscribe; I know it’s the biggest reason I’ll drop out of something, usually pretty quickly. We don’t mind information, but we don’t want to be overwhelmed since it’s almost always some kind of sales pitch that we’re receiving at that point.

2. Subscribed to get something and now we’re satisfied. This is kind of disingenuous but it happens all the time. Many people that offer something if a person signs up for a list know this is going to happen, but since by that time most of those lists are automated anyway they really don’t care.

3. Subscribed then realized it’s not what we thought it was going to be. I’ve subscribed to some things and then noticed that I wasn’t getting what was promised so I drop out.

4. You run out of time. This could be for many reasons, such as getting too much other email, not enough time to read what you’re being sent, you’re participating in other things now that you weren’t before… time can be a killer, especially if you’re subscribed to a lot of things.

5. The frequency isn’t what you want it to be. Do you want weekly newsletters? Maybe something every two weeks or so? When you’re putting out a newsletter, it’s hard to figure out sometimes just how often you should be doing anything. If you’re the reader, it’s possible that every time a newsletter or whatever comes to you it’s more irksome because you weren’t expecting it and eventually you decide it’s time to leave.

6. You’re tired of it. Maybe you’ve been subscribed to something for a few years and now you’re just tired of it. It’s not that you don’t like it but you’re ready for something new, something from someone else.

7. You’re on too many lists. Many years ago I subscribed to a lot of things. I eventually created a new email address so I could shunt everything there instead of my regular email address. Then I realized that I just couldn’t, or wouldn’t, keep up with it all and I started cutting a bunch of them. At this point I only subscribe to two email lists, and it’s eased my load a lot.

8. The other person dropped your list. This one might seem petty, but it happens often. Heck, I know I’ve done it; people leave me and then I leave them because the only reason I was a part of their list was because they were receiving what I was sending out. That was years ago; I don’t do that anymore.

9. You didn’t subscribe to begin with. Man, is this irksome. I meet someone and they just add me to their list that I didn’t ask for. Or suddenly I’m receiving stuff from people I don’t even know, and I figure someone bought a list with my email address on it and just started pumping stuff my way. Some folks say you shouldn’t unsubscribe to these things because all you’re doing is proving that email address is accurate. Heck, spam’s coming anyway, so you might as well unsubscribe because it’s possible the person sending you something will have some ethics and remove you from that list.

10. You’ve irked the reader in some fashion. I had this happen to me where this guy reacted to a newsletter I wrote about my dad’s time in the military with a rant against the American military and government. Eventually, after I tried to have a conversation with them because that wasn’t what the newsletter was about, he threw out a parting shot and left. Frankly, I wasn’t unhappy he left.

There’s 10 reasons for you and Sire; do you have anything more to add?

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