My friend Christopher S. Penn recently offered a video explaining why he includes a giant unsubscribe button in his email newsletter. Ironically, I had the topic of unsubscribes on my own editorial calendar for Chip Shots, too.
The truth is that unsubscribes used to bother me. I would get a notification from my email list service provider whenever someone opted out, and it would sting.
On some level, I took it as a personal rebuke. Especially if it was someone I knew well.
Over time, however, I came to view it as a victory of sorts.
Sure, I would rather keep as many people on my list as possible. After all, I tend to think I’m putting out some content with decent value.
But the reality is that when people unsubscribe they’re simply telling you that what you’re putting out isn’t what they are interested in at that time.
Maybe they’re just getting too much stuff, and they’re pruning as deeply as possible.
Maybe their role has changed since they first subscribed, so the content isn’t as relevant.
Maybe my content isn’t as useful as I think it is.
When I see unsubscribes now, I accept them for what they are — and try to learn from them.
I don’t want to be reactionary, but if I see a trend in rising unsubscribes, I know I need to reevaluate the content I’m putting out.
I ask myself if I am following through on the promise I have made subscribers for good, relevant content.
But if it is a situation where it really is “them not me” then I accept that, too.
It means that my list is getting more focused on the people who see the greatest value in the content that I am putting out.
I realize that I can’t be all things to all people and that even people I know well and consider friends may not find real value in the specific content I am creating now.
It is better to be creating relevant content for an audience that appreciates what I’m delivering than irritating people with irrelevant items.
Taken in that context, unsubscribes can actually be seen as a win and don’t have to sting — at least not as much.