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Unsubscribe: The case of too many emails - Market2Marketers
I want to tell you a little story. Late Friday evening I created an online account on a natural/organic food e-commerce site. I stumbled upon the site while looking for a particular product (jackfruit) that I didn’t think I could find in the town I live in. Once I perused the website a bit I decided that, while they did not carry jackfruit, I may actually purchase from them in the future. They had good prices and sold things I would never be able to find in any of the shops close by. Maybe it was the late night and I should have been sleeping, but I was excited about this site and was looking forward to exploring it further.

The excitement quickly turned into annoyance when in less than three days I had received seven separate emails from the company. In fact, I received THREE emails from them on Saturday alone all within about an hour and a half from each other. Part of me really wanted to experiment and see how many more emails I would have received within a week but, to be honest, I got frustrated and decided it was time to unsubscribe.

There is no doubt that email marketing is important. In fact, Salesforce found that 73% of B2B marketers believe that email is essential to growing their business. So, how much email is too much? What is the fine line between a happy customer and email fatigue?

While I know my real-life scenario is in a context of B2C I believe it can be applied just as easily to a B2B email marketing. In the case of email, B2B marketers can learn a lot from consumer email marketing mistakes as well as their successes.

Too many emails = Unsubscribe

We all get a lot of emails. I wake up to between 15-20 emails across my three email accounts. We don’t mind these emails usually because we’ve either subscribed to them or we have a purchase relationship with the vendor. However, in the case I stated above, frequency of those emails does matter.

Frequency of emails is cited as one of the top reasons people unsubscribe. One study from 2015 found that 34.8% of respondents unsubscribe to email because they received too many. (Marketing Charts) However, another, more recent study, puts that number at 78%. (Hubspot) Even if the actual number lies somewhere in between, it’s clear that consumers get fed-up with companies that contact us too often.

But how many emails are too many? There is a fine line between keeping your company in the mind of your customer and driving them to frustration. But that line is often dependent on the receiver. Some are annoyed by multiple emails per day, receiving them daily or even multiple times a week. (MarketingSherpa)

What can marketers do?

The fact is, people will sometimes unsubscribe to your mailing list. It happens even to the best email marketing campaigns. An unsubscribe rate of less than 1% is considered normal. (Mailjet) However, if your unsubscribe rate is about 0.5% you may want to take a look at email marketing strategy. Here are a few things to do that may help keep your customers happy with your email and your unsubscribe rate low.


Typically, e-commerce campaigns send out four to five emails per week (Uberflip). While this may work for some companies it may be far too many for your customer list. Take the time to test out your email strategy. Segment out your email list and run tests. These tests aren’t just about frequency. You also want to test content, subject lines and even the time of day that is best to send out emails. Look at your metrics and adjust appropriately.

Give opt-in options

One way to keep your unsubscribe numbers low is to give your subscribers options. Let them choose how often they want to be contacted. Ask them what kind of contact they wish to be sent. They may just be interested in getting special offers or discounts. They may only be interested in your monthly newsletter. Or, they may want it all. If you let them chose then segment your email list to these wishes, customers are far less likely to hunt out that unsubscribe link.

Be relevant and interesting

This is where your content marketing comes in. The second most popular reason people unsubscribe to emails is that the content is not relevant to them. As with any content marketing strategy, get to know your audience. Find out what they care about and what they need. Shape your emails to these wants and needs.

Relevance is essential but emails should also be exciting and interesting. If your customers are waking up to 15-20 emails, you want yours to stand out and not be deleted before it’s even opened. You don’t have a lot of time to grab their attention. Do your best to immediately catch your recipient’s eye and show them what you’ve got to offer


Remember, for an email marketing campaign to be successful, you need your emails to be received, opened and acted upon. The best way to do this is to provide your subscribers and customers with emails that are relevant and appeal to their needs. Bombarding them with bunches of emails in the hopes they will open one or two will only frustrate them and potentially click on ‘unsubscribe.’