Why Newsletter Unsubscribes Are GOOD News!

By blog, Email Marketing Leave a comment

Your hands are shaking. There are butterflies in the pit of your stomach. Should you send this email promotion? Is it too bold? Will it turn people off? What if readers – gasp – unsubscribe?

But it needs to be done, so you hold your breath and click the Send button. Then hold your breath some more.

A few hours pass and the world doesn’t come screeching to a halt. You start to relax a bit. Then – horror of horrors – a few unsubscribes trickle in. You may even get a nasty note from someone who just doesn’t “get” you. And that stings. A LOT.

It happened to me this week. I sent a bold, risky email with the subject line “Stop ignoring me!” -which was not actually about me feeling ignored but about how we as marketers often get our marketing messages ignored, and how to stop it. There were a handful of unsubscribes, as to be expected with any email you send out. Someone’s having a bad day and unsubscribes in a “take that!” motion ‘cuz she can’t take out her frustrations where she really wants to. Another person is no longer in need of your teachings. Yet another is just plain overwhelmed with the 100s of emails flooding their inbox each day. There are a million reasons why people leave your list. So I get the unsubscribes, and while each one still saddens me at the thought that there’s one less person I’ll be able to reach with my trainings, I respect each unsubscribe and (try to) take it in stride.

But then I got the email. One reader took the time to send me a rather scathing email (at least in my mind….likely it was rather tame :)) declaring that she had unsubscribed from my newsletter list, and even accusing me of sounding too desperate for her tastes.

My knee-jerk reaction?

At first, I gotta admit, I was devastated. My heart sank to somewhere near my knees. To think that someone would think such poor thoughts of me was horrifying (I’m one of those people-pleasers by nature, and hate the thought that not everyone in the world loves me :)), especially the idea that she would think I was really chastising her for “ignoring me” (which, if you read the email, you’d know that’s not where I was going – but I digress). Even worse was the thought that I’d completely missed the mark with that reader, and that now she was gone for good.

But then I thought about it some more.

And you know what I realized? That her leaving, however painful, was best for both of us.

Because for whatever reason, she wasn’t my ideal client, so even if she had decided to work with me at some point, or if she had taken one of my workshops, we likely would have both been miserable. We never would have “meshed” in the way you do with the people you love to work with. You know, those clients who you adore so much that you’d wanna hang out with them even if you weren’t engaged in a working relationship (and for whom the feeling’s mutual).

I realized then that I was okay with this reader leaving, because in doing so she opened the door for me to really, truly communicate with the people who do “get” me. Without my constant concern about ticking off those who don’t.

Because when you realize who you are, and who you click with most, then you can stop hiding in fear and stand boldly in your marketing. Knowing that you’re gonna tick some people off. You’re gonna get unsubscribes. You may even get a nasty email or two.

And you know what?

You should welcome those unsubscribes and disparaging emails as a sign that you’re on the right path. Because if you aren’t ticking some people off, you’re holding back. As journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Herbert Bayard Swope one said, “I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.”

It’s not gonna happen. No matter what you do, you’re likely to turn someone off. Even if you try to play the “safe route,” you’re going to end up either irritating your ideal peeps by a lack of backbone or skating by them completely unnoticed (and THAT ain’t good!).

If you can hold your head high and share your message, knowing that it’s all in the name of speaking your truth, then it’s all good. Because the people who do resonate with your message are gonna be shouting their own “Hallelujah!” from the rooftops, and loving you all the more. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Tammi Metzler, founder of The Write Associate, is a Marketing Copy Strategist who helps solo entrepreneurs worldwide get more clients with their online marketing efforts. Interested email marketers can claim a complimentary copy of her “Plug-and-Publish Email Autoresponders that SELL Your Products and Services” report, designed to help you immediately form a strong, lasting connection with your subscribers (to keep ’em around for the long haul), encourage them to invest in your products and services to solve their pains and reach their goals, and establish yourself as the expert who can help them live the life they dream of living. Click here to grab your complimentary copy now!



  • Erika Kalmar

    HiTammi, thanks for this article! I totally “get” you! 🙂

    As a Coaching Biz Start-Up Strategist, I also want people to love all that I have to offer and I’ve had difficulties in the past accepting unsubscribes. Since then, I see this differently:

    In 98% of unsubscribe cases people are commenting their reason – and if it’s changed interests etc., it’s not my fault anyway. If it’s another type of feedback – it’s a great learning for next time.

    And as you said, it all comes back to who your ideal client is – and it’s not just anyone who is in your target market but only those who accept you as you are…

    Keep on going!


  • Mary

    I loved that email and got it – it contained tons of valuable information Thank you . I personally like it when those that don’t get my message unsubscribe , it keeps my list clean & responsive and frees up space for my ideal clients to enter . Good job in causing your subscribers to take action. Action = results

  • Donnita

    As a “recovering” people pleaser…this one really hit home. Each unsubscribe felt so personal. Thanks for the reminder to look for the good in every situation. It’s far better to have fewer subscribers who are the right fit than to have multitudes of those who are not.

    On the flip side, if you are the one who is unsubscribing, please think before labeling someone’s message as spam. Those of us who care only put you on our list because you said you wanted to be there. We will sadly, but certainly, remove your name from the list if you wish.

  • Tammi

    Erika – you hit the nail right on the head! Whatever the case, it’s a learning experience for us; we have to learn to either let go of that which we have no control or we can learn to do something better next time. Here’s to more clients who accept (and love!) us as is. 🙂


  • Tammi

    Absolutely Mary, that’s what it’s all about: getting readers to take action. Whether that action is to say “yes” to our offer or say “no thanks” and move on, it’s better to get a response than nothing at all (a.k.a. getting completely ignored). Thanks for your support!


  • Tammi

    Amen Donnita – yes those “spam” accusations do hurt, especially those of us who are genuinely trying to help; thanks for pointing out to please think before we label!


  • Cindy Schulson

    Great post Tammi! I’m right there with you as a people pleaser so I can totally relate. And you’re so right. The people who leave our list aren’t the right fit, and that’s okay.

    I like to think of our target market as anyone who can benefit from our solution, and they’re the ones who opt in to our list. Our ideal clients are the ones who most value what we do and who we most connect with. They’re the ones who will not only stay on our list, but engage with us, buy from us and even refer us.

    Let’s celebrate those people and send sincere good wishes to those who choose to leave. It doesn’t detract from your value, it just wasn’t a good fit.

  • Tammi

    Hi Cindy – so nice to hear validation from you, the Niche Queen! 🙂 And yes, agreed on sending good wishes to those who leave. The way I see it, there just wasn’t a good fit, which doesn’t mean that either you or the unsubscriber are “wrong.” I personally responded to this particular woman’s email wishing her the best in finding someone who IS the right copy coach for her. 🙂 It’s all a journey, and I’m eternally grateful for the support of amazing women (and a few men :)) who do resonate with my message and are sticking around to hear more. 🙂


  • Karyn Lisk

    As a people pleaser myself, I sometimes “stay” on a list that no longer is necessary for me, but do not want to hurt their feelings when it is time to unsubscribe. The truth is sometimes we get EXACTLY what we need and then are ready for more that no longer resonates with what we received from the person we are unsubscribing from. I enjoy your news letters and have used all your copy writing suggestions and feel you provided a valuable service and great tools for future writing projects.

    Your Ideal Client

  • Tammi

    Thanks so much for your comments, Karyn! I know what you mean by not wanting to hurt people’s feelings by unsubscribing; I’m the same way. But yes, there are times when certain information no longer serves us and it’s time to move on.

    PS: I’m glad you’ve used and enjoyed the copywriting tips and suggestions! Happy to have you on board, and if there’s ever anything I can do to make things even more valuable for you (or perhaps if there’s a certain topic you’re dying to hear more about) please let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂


  • Michele

    Loved your email and just so that you know…I totally got you. However, I really did appreciate your article and as a small business woman, I can relate to the need to please, to that knawing sensation of wanting more than just some small notification telling me that a particular subscriber has left me (oh boo hoo), but your article was soooooo refreshing and liberating to read. Thank you!!!

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