Email Marketing

13 Proven Ways to Reduce Email Unsubscribe Rate (eCommerce)

Just as nudging people to subscribe to your email list is important, inspiring them not to unsubscribe also is—we tell you about 13 tested ways how.

13 Proven Ways to Reduce Email Unsubscribe Rate (eCommerce)

High email unsubscribes are a big way email subscribers tell you they don’t want to see your content. 

This article will share some proven strategies to lower your eCommerce email unsubscribe rates along with examples to spark up some inspiration.

But first, how do you know when your email unsubscribe rates need intervention?

Before we jump in, here's a look at what we'll cover:

How to Reduce your Email Unsubscribe Rate in eCommerce

How to Calculate Your Email Unsubscribe Rate

What is a Good Unsubscribe Rate for eCommerce Emails?

How to Maintain Email List Hygiene for Better Deliverability

Other Questions People Ask

How to Reduce your Email Unsubscribe Rate in eCommerce

There are many recommendations on how to improve your unsubscribe rates. However, here are some proven strategies that work:

1. Use subject lines that make them think

Your email subject line is the window to the rest of your content. This is why it needs to evoke some sort of emotion that’ll make them anxious or excited to open it. 

This email from Frontman perfectly explains this:

thought provoking email subject lines prevent recipients from unsubscribing

The response of course would be “How???” and just like that, they won’t be thinking about leaving your mailing list. 

You see when there’s a sense of urgency and curiosity every time they see your emails, you just know they’d be looking forward to receiving the next one. 

2. Switch things up by adding value

The average person gets 100-120 emails every day. 

What makes yours worth reading or even worth saving when they need to clean up their mailing list?

In this example from Sweetkick, they don’t just sell the product in their emails. 

They also share benefits and throw in some recipes.

sweetkick sends valuable content to reduce the unsubscribe rate

So even if a subscriber already purchased this product, they get insights on how to use it better. This is what we mean by providing value with each mail. 

Think about what you sell—what knowledge can you give your email subscribers around it?

3. Keep calm and segment on

Let’s take a look at this email from Buoy.

addressing the exact audience in an email improves segmentation and reduces email unsbscribes

This would be a very interesting hook if your email subscribers are all Americans. 

Because it creates interest, educates and nudges you to purchase the product targeted at improving gut health.

However, if it was also sent to subscribers in Europe or Asia, it’ll be such a turn-off. Because they are definitely not on an American diet, right?

Without email segmentation, you’ll deliver irrelevant content to your users making them unsubscribe over time. 

When you segment your email lists based on specific actions or demographics, you’ll send content they won’t want to trash. 

A few ways to segment are by gender, location, age, reasons they signed up, what they shop for and other behavioral insights. 

4. Create targeted messaging based on data

You already have user data like search and purchase history. 

Use this data to your advantage by sending them highly targeted messages.

For example, if you have customers who only purchase bold or statement pieces in your jewelry store,  they’d look forward to your emails when you send them messages like this:

email messaging based on your audience's interest areas can reduce the unsubscribe rate

Now obviously you wouldn’t send this message to someone who only shops for dainty jewelry. 

When looking for what data to use, we recommend using data from your marketing preferences, purchase history, search history, carts they’ve abandoned, wishlists and products they’ve repeatedly searched for. 

Check this out: How to Use Targeted Email Marketing to Drive More Sales (eCommerce)

5. Dodge the spam filters by revisiting your setup

People automatically unsubscribe from emails they find in spam and 45% of emails they get land there. 

Spam filters are programs designed to identify whether an email belongs in spam and it’s your job to avoid being caught by them.

Start by using your own name and domain when sending emails. Sending bulk emails from a Gmail or Yahoo domain will automatically send your messages to junk. However, using a single authenticated domain will make you look trustworthy. 

Here’s an example of what an untrustworthy email can look like:

example of an email address that does not real

Whereas something like the following would generate instant trust:

gymshark's emails come from an authentic address

Other ways to avoid landing in spam include:

  • Never buy an email list
  • Only link to trusted websites
  • Stop using overly pushy and spammy words
  • Warming up your IP before sending a bulk mail for the first time
  • Use a trustworthy email service provider

6. Let your subscribers decide 

Users unsubscribe because they either want to receive lesser emails or find the emails irrelevant. 

When they can’t find a way to make this happen, they’ll just choose to unsubscribe. 

This is why adopting a preference center can reduce the number of unsubscribes by 20%.

A preference center is a page that allows your users to choose what type of messaging they receive from your brand. In most cases, it also allows them to choose how frequently they receive these messages.

So rather than just having an unsubscribe button, add a manage preferences button. 

This will tell you what exactly they want to receive from you. 

Here’s a great example from Art of Play;

Art of Play maintains an email preference center to reduce the rate of email unsubscribes

Once they tap on that button, give them options to choose from. 

Here’s how you can lay out options for them to choose from:

how to create choices for your email preference center

You might like: 28 No-BS Ways To Get More Email Subscribers in eCommerce

7. Build personas for max effect

As we’ve mentioned earlier, segmenting your email list is important. However, don’t just segment and send random emails based on what you think they’d want to see. 

Instead, build buyer personas for each of these email lists. 

For example, if you have a list of users who purchased a ton of Halloween-themed food in October, you can build a Halloween persona for them.

This doesn’t mean you should send every single holiday nudge to them. That’s because they’ll likely not be interested, especially if they are seasonal buyers. 

Instead, adopt Krispy Kreme’s approach by sending them content specifically designed for their persona. 

Krispy Kreme reduces email unsubscribe rate by sending emails based on specific personas

In this case, seasonal messages are based on the persona and data you’ve curated. 

We also recommend A/B testing to figure out what works best for each segment.

8. Appreciate your users frequently

Customer appreciation increases brand trust and loyalty. Which means, fewer unsubscribes. 

Leverage brand milestones to send out such mails—”We just turned 10! Thanks for going steady with us!”

Start sending thank you emails to your customers for simply choosing your brand, if you already haven’t. 

If your thank you email contains a discount code or free shipping on their next order, they immediately have a reason to purchase again. 

Here’s what Huel does. 

Huel sends appreciation emails to keep their unsubscribe rate in check

Other ways to make them feel wanted?

Offer early access to flash deals. 

Let them refer people and offer them a free gift/discount in return. 

Wish them on their special days with the right recommendations and offers. 

Offer them a discount code and let them shop for some “mystery”recommendations. 

eCommerce brand Casper takes it a step further with “subscriber exclusives”:

Casper sends exclusives for email subscribers to inspire them to stay subscribed

9. Evaluate how frequently you send messages

Sending emails too frequently can make them lose interest and cause them to unsubscribe. 

For eCommerce businesses, keeping sends between 10-19 emails per month is good practice. 

However, you should allow your subscribers to decide how frequently they want to receive your messages. Do this during the opt-in process. 

Another way could be telling them beforehand how frequently you send these emails. 

For example, “Signup for our monthly newsletter” already tells the user that they’ll receive this email once a month.

Also, run frequent tests and evaluate your unsubscribe rate. These tests will show you what frequency works best for your audience.

You might like: How often should eCommerce stores send marketing emails?

10. Don’t go close to buying lists

An email list you buy is essentially an email list you can’t control. 

The reason is simple: those on that list aren’t there out of their own choice. 

Another problem with lists is that reputed email marketing vendors don’t want to engage with them. 

Plus GDPR requires businesses to seek explicit content before sending out emails. 

Existing lists also run into deliverability problems because hundreds of addresses on them might actually be defunct. 

11. Responsive: the only kind to send

41.6% email opens happen on mobile and you wouldn’t want to lose out on such subscribers. 

So, test out your emails across devices before you hit the “send” button. 

Even if a multi-column layout is what you’ve chosen for desktop viewing, collapse it to a single column for smaller devices. 

Keep your subject lines and preheader text within 30 characters to ensure genuine opens and reads. 

Specifying a max width for images also prevents it from spilling beyond the screen size, especially for smaller devices. 

Make your CTAs more prominent and cover more screen space—which naturally means featuring a limited number in every email helps. 

12. Offer interesting content around the year

It’s easy to think your subscribers continue to read your mails only for the deals & discounts. 


The most engaged ones actually look forward to the content you send. They’re also the ones who will likely buy from you time to time—exactly why it’s crucial to not let them go. 

From product guides to expert tips to enabling them to be a part of your community on multiple channels—extend the reach of your engagement for your unsubscribes to stay low. 

Tip: Explore sending emails on various nuances: new recommendations, nudge to sign up for your membership program, introduce them to your app, talk only about a newly launched product etc. 

13. Ask for their best email—ALWAYS

This will help you send them emails on addresses they’re frequently using. The best time to do this is when you’re asking them for an opt-in—saying something as simple as “Get the best deals, tips & stories in your favorite email” can be subtle and effective.

How to Calculate Your Email Unsubscribe Rate

To calculate your email unsubscribe rate, you need the number of unsubscribed users and the number of deliveries you had for that campaign.

This is how it looks: 

Number of unsubscribed users/number of emails delivered X 100 = unsubscribe rate

For example, if 7 users unsubscribed after sending a campaign delivered to 520 subscribers, it would be 7/520 x 100. This would bring the unsubscribe rate to 1.3%. 

The next question would be, is this a good rate?

What is a Good Unsubscribe Rate for eCommerce Emails?

Across all industries, 0.25% is the average unsubscribe rate. 

However, since there are industry benchmarks, you need to use that to set realistic standards for your business.

The average unsubscribe rate for eCommerce emails is 0.29%. If your rates are higher than this, then you need to take immediate steps to save your mailing list. 

You may also notice a higher unsubscribe rate among those who’re still getting acquainted with your emails—for those who’ve been on your list longer probably show lesser signs of unsubscribing. 

We recommend keeping it below 0.27% for maximum engagement.

How to Maintain Email List Hygiene for Better Deliverability

One out of five emails do not end up in your subscriber’s inbox. This is because your email list hygiene determines whether your emails will get delivered or sent to a junk folder by spam filters.

Here are a few steps to take to maintain a good list hygiene:

Make it easy for people to unsubscribe

Be sure to offer an obvious way for people to opt out of receiving your emails.

Add an unsubscribe link to every single email you send out and be sure it works.

This way, your subscribers won’t mark your content as spam and further hurt your sender's reputation.

You can, however, place it at the footer of your newsletter just like our example below.

example of footer design to make email unsubscribing easy

Re-engage and if they don’t respond, let them go

So you have a list of inactive subscribers. Before clearing them out, we recommend sending a re-engagement email. 45% of subscribers who receive a re-engagement email read them.

A great tip is to strategize on what your win-back email should be. Some businesses offer discounts while others simply remind their subscribers of the reasons why they signed up in the first place.

Urban Outfitters sends re engagement emails to reduce unsubscribe rate

Post this last re-engagement mail, remove those who still didn’t engage as they’ll likely never read your emails again.

Check this out: 11 High-Converting Win Back Email Examples (+ Templates)

Make sure your emails don’t load slowly

If you use a lot of HTML in your email templates, be sure to minify them.

Ditch the overly animated CSS and multiple images you’ll be using. If you’ll still need to use an image, reduce the size and preferably save them in WEBP format. 

While using text is a more ideal option, overly lengthy text can become boring. So make sure you break them up with lines. We also recommend keeping your email as short as possible. 

Ask for feedback

Letting your subscribers share what they think about your product or the quality of your content can improve their engagement rapidly. If they’ve had a bad experience, they’d want to vent. It’s also a great way to make sure that you're sending out quality content. 

You can ask for feedback on your product, ask for a review or even just share an NPS so they can let you know what they think. Here’s an example:

asking for feedback from your email subscribers can reduce the unsubscribe rate

Use double opt-ins

With double opt-ins, you can verify that you’re getting the right email address in your list.

It’s also a great way to receive consent from your subscribers and weed out those who aren’t in it for the long run. That’s because only those truly interested in receiving your content would want to go through the hassle.

Here’s an example of a double opt-in:

Double opt-ins ensure only the most interested subscribers sign up reducing unsubscribes

You can always enable double opt-ins from your email marketing service provider. Simply visit the subscription settings to get started.

Manage your bounce rate 

 Your bounce rate is the number of emails that don’t get delivered and “bounce” back to you. Generally, there are two types: hard and soft bounces. 

Soft email bounces are emails that bounce because of temporary problems like the recipient’s inbox being too full.

Hard bounces on the other hand are emails that will never reach a recipient because they are either invalid addresses, inactive or on an expired domain.

To improve the number of bounces you get, simply follow the tips we’ve shared in this article. Tips like having a preferences center, adopting a double opt-in process and cleaning your list regularly are very effective.

Other Questions People Ask

Why is the unsubscribe rate high in eCommerce?

Unsubscribe rates are increasing in eCommerce because many businesses don’t send highly targeted emails using their data. 

They also rarely practice proper email list hygiene. 

How often should you clean your email lists?

You should clean your email list at least once a year. This is really the bare minimum. 

We recommend cleaning them every three to six months. 

What is a good bounce rate?

The average bounce rate across all industries is 0.30%. 

So we recommend keeping it lower than 1% at all times. 

Why do emails bounce?

A: Emails bounce because they do not get delivered to their intended recipient. 

This might be for a number of reasons.

Some include the recipient losing access to that email account, a full inbox, an inactive email account, server maintenance and so much more.

Recommended reading:

25 Ways to Grow Your Email Click Through Rate Quickly (eCommerce)

21 Tips to Increase Sales Through Email Marketing (+ Amazing Examples)

The Right Way to Calculate Email Marketing ROI in eCommerce

Transform Email Marketing Into A Revenue Machine

Most eCommerce store owners don’t see email as a serious revenue stream.

Ask them about the importance of email marketing, and you'll hear: “we don’t really have a major strategy,” “we mostly use generic templates,” or “we just send emails to people on our list.”


There are stores out there that drive 30%+ of their revenue from email marketing. 

Engage can help you do the same - Book a free demo.

We’ll show you:

  • workflows we can create for your store,
  • proven ways to drive 30% or more $$ from email alone, and 
  • successful templates and strategies from your industry (and others).

**This post was written by Moses, a digital entrepreneur who geeks out on online marketing and write about it for B2B SaaS companies that appreciates blog content borne out of hands-on experience.

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