Dealing with Rejection: Yes, People Will Unsubscribe

You do — or will — spend a lot of time attracting people to your email list. You’ll celebrate every new subscribe, and then it will happen: someone will unsubscribe. Not “might”: will. No matter how good your newsletter or mailing, it’s probably going to feel like a personal rejection, especially if you work hard to make each mailing useful, meaty, and of high value to your subscribers.

And some won’t just unsubscribe: they’ll do it with prejudice, meaning they’ll send you a nasty comment, or question your parentage, intelligence, or expertise.

OK, It Happens: What to Do?

My advice for dealing with that personal hurt? Get over it. Laugh it off. Remember that people are obliviots.

They say that “One ‘ah, crap!’ wipes out a hundred ‘attaboys’.” That is, you could get a hundred letters of praise, thanks, or other good strokes, but just one complaint wipes them out. Or at least, it feels like that.

Yeah, those complaints suck. I even have a folder in my email titled “Death Threats”. Yes, really: over an online newsletter! That is how obliviotic some folks are. There are few messages in there, especially compared to literally thousands of kudos, including “You saved my life,” so they really don’t bother me, let alone the lesser whines. In the old days, I’d sometimes get mad at the mean ones, but I decided not to give obliviots power by reacting negatively. Usually these days, I actually laugh at just how pathetic some people’s lives are that they spend time and energy bitching and moaning about a free newsletter.

I strongly suggest you do the same. Get over it and move on, even if they’re mean or nasty. And really: very few will be nasty or mean. When they are, it’s their problem, not yours. Don’t waste your time trying to figure them out: use your time to make your newsletter great and bring the readers who are still there terrific value.

Besides: no matter how useful your newsletter is, it won’t be of use to everyone. You could be the top expert in your field, dumping out your decades of experience in a helpful, easy-to-read format — information you would have paid a month’s salary for when you were starting out — but not everyone will be interested. When someone unsubscribes from the Emailified list (and certainly some have!), my thought is, “Glad they gave it a chance to see what it was about.” Even if I know they desperately need the information, that it’s the absolute key to their business succeeding, they might not have time or resources to put the information to use. And that’s OK: at least they now know the resource is there, and they could come back later when they’re ready to implement the ideas.

Last, a lot of folks unsubscribe because they think that’s the way to change their address, so quit worrying: they may have already subscribed again.

Just never, ever let unsubscribes get in the way of creating valuable content to support your business.

4 thoughts on “Dealing with Rejection: Yes, People Will Unsubscribe”

  1. Sometimes when I unsubscribe from a list I’m asked why. There may even be a list of reasons to choose from, like Too many emails or Content doesn’t apply. I’ve seen the choice to receive less frequent emails or to suspend service for one month.

    Do you recommend asking why or offering other options?

    Thank you for your interesting and valuable newsletter!

    • What happens after the unsubscribe click varies from ESP to ESP. Some ask why, and might have a selection of reasons. Others simply ask for comments. You may or may not have control over whether such options are given, or the list of reasons. I figure it can’t hurt, but answering should absolutely NOT be a barrier to the unsubscribe (that is, you shouldn’t have to answer to get off the list). They should be a feedback option only after the unsubscribe action is complete.

  2. I write the newsletter for a garden club. Monthly. About 62 members get full newsletter including treasures report, another 75 odd members and courtesy recipients get a basic newsletter. I just mail them via BCC to gmail groups. If the club gets much bigger, I will be looking for help, thus my subscription emailified.

    And, yes I have had problems with AOL and MS and YAHOO and … one other that I have forgotten. All my mail bounced due to being classified as spam. Sigh. Find the damn email address, send them a note that I am just sending a newsletter once a month and problem is solved.

    I assume this issue (appear to be mass mailing) of false positive as spammer comes up for other folks. Are you going to discuss this in future? Even as a problem you get only if you are dumb enough to try running a mailing list manually?

    • I have indeed covered this already, such as here and here. In your situation, I absolutely would move to an Email Service Provider right away.

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