There are three basic ways we judge our communications as marketers, and that’s through high open rates, high click through rates and low unsubscriber rates. We are going to concentrate on how to improve those pesky unsubscriber rates, and thus improve all your future campaigns with a few simple tricks.


When customers click your unsubscribe button, they are lost forever, right? Wrong! What if you could not only keep them as customers but also increase your return on investment? If a subscriber clicks on ‘unsubscribe’, one simple tip is to add another stage to the process in the form of a preference centre, which asks them to choose what they receive from you and when.

Updating preferences is a clever move that is being utilised by the more customer-centric e-commerce marketers who recognise that by providing customers with a choice in the communications they receive, they may not unsubscribe at all. Not only that, but marketers will also receive more information about what products or offers interest that customer, further advancing their single customer view. Genius!

Put this strategy into action yourself by updating your emails to include an “update your preferences” button as well. This automatically changes your readers’ mindset to a more positive action, making them far more likely to tell you what they want without unsubscribing. The idea behind more positive phrasing is just that; it creates a positive action and attitude towards your brand, plus you reduce your unsubscriber rate. It’s a win-win situation!


Some subscribers may sign up with no intention to ever purchase from you, and it’s clear from their history they never have or intend to buy from you in the future, (think of competitors who might sign up to receive your newsletter just to follow what you’re up to). These customers will affect your unsubscriber rate statistics and you may need to delete or manually unsubscribe them in order to improve your campaign analytics.

Targeting low-level subscribers

Trial some new strategies by sending a few emails out to low level subscribers and ask them outright “Are we getting it right?” You might be nervous to ask, but finding out how, what and when they want you to communicate with them may surprise you.

If anything, you will lose poor ROI subscribers and thus increase your KPI’s with just one simple campaign. Now you’ve tested your low-level subscribers, ask others to update their preferences and improve their brand experience with you too – now you’re knocking your stats out of the park!

If you want to go one step further, ask them to fill out a questionnaire about their experiences with your brand whilst tempting them with an incentive. You’ll find out where you might’ve been going wrong, plus you may entice them into making that all important purchase.


Get creative with your preference options and include either daily, weekly or monthly roundups, a preferred day of the week to receive emails, or allow your customers to take a break from your communications (typically between 1-30 days). If your subscriber still wishes to end all contact, ask them to choose a reason behind their decision as you will learn (without sounding too much like a teenage break-up) whether it was you or them.

The majority of retailers are providing these preference options but the majority are getting it wrong. The key to giving customers options is to make it quick and easy to edit preferences or simply unsubscribe, so don’t hide that unsubscribe button as it will sour your relationship beyond repair. Unfortunately, some companies are still asking their subscribers to log into an account to unsubscribe and this outdated, three-stage process can lead to customers marking you as spam. If your customers really want to unsubscribe, let them.

End on a good note

Send a confirmation email and use it as an opportunity to let them know they are welcome back anytime. “We’ll miss you” is often a good way to gently tug at their heartstrings and may prompt them to revisit you soon.

By adding these preferences, your subscribers will feel valued and listened to, thus giving them a sense of customer service and a more positive experience with your brand. By improving your customer intelligence with these simple tips, you will see higher click through rates, spend less on campaigns and see a higher return on investment. The most important thing to remember is keep it simple and easy to unsubscribe from your emails which keeps your relationship positive to the very end.