The other day I got this message…

“I love it when you send out a well-crafted email out from your small business and then you see the unsubscribe numbers a day later.”

I think it was meant as a bit of dry humour…

…sort of…

But there was an air of serious disappointment and frustration about his comment.

You see, the person who wrote this message runs a small publishing company, creating eBooks and physical books, marketed online through website, blog and social media.

Until recently, he only sent subscribers emails whenever they had a new product out.

Then he decided to change things up a bit…

He started to send out longer emails that cover the latest news from their writers, with useful links, recommendations for other free content, funny stories and insights into publishing.

And what happened when he did this?

A load of people unsubscribed.

That’s never nice for a small company that relies a lot on email sales. And it’s hardly encouraging after you put all that effort into an email.


It’s like getting on stage, telling a joke and watching 10% of the audience get up and leave.

Takes nerves of steel to carry on after that.

It can also make you doubt the common wisdom spouted by email marketing experts.

After all, don’t they pretty much ALL say that the better and more useful your emails, the bigger and better your email list will become?

So in this case, what happened?

Well, truth is, nothing that should cause him to give up.

Because a flurry of unsubscribes is to be expected.

That sounds strange, but I’ll explain… because it’s really important and not something that’s not talked about much by internet marketing gurus and their ilk.

While there was a flurry of unsubscribes after a new, improved style of ‘free content’ email…

… the list is now stronger.

Rather than think of those few people who couldn’t be bothered with reading the new weekly emails and decided to unsubscribe….

… think of the far larger percentage of subscribers who didn’t unsubscribe and who therefore ARE bothered.

These are people who now have a much deeper relationship with the company and will start looking forward to those funny, informative emails.

They’re more likely to give feedback, click through to blog posts, attend events and buy products.

So the real measurement of success of the new style emails is this…

Over 2 – 3 months there should be:

• Higher open rates – the “not interested” people will unsubscribe, meaning a more dedicated list of serious prospects who will open the emails.

• More click-throughs – if you’re interested in the content of the email you’re more likely to be interested in links to OTHER content online that’s on a similar topic.

• More sales – the more people read your emails, get to know your views and begin to trust you, the more likely they are to buy.

And there’s another major, ‘techie’ benefit:


Email providers like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and so on like finely tuned, engaged lists. So if you’re sending out thousands of emails each week and only 5% of the database are actually clicking on them your emails won’t get priority.

They’re more likely to get delayed or caught in spam boxes.

When you’ve got a smaller list of highly engaged readers (who are more likely to click and buy anyway) you’ll be rewarded with faster inbox placement.

Here’s another lesson to take away from this…

Quantity is unimportant

The number of people on your database is utterly unimportant – until you qualify them.

If they’re not really interested and never likely to buy anything, you’d be better off with them unsubscribing.

Right now, on your email list there will be some of the following…

• People who joined just to get a free gift or discount (freebie hunters and tyre-kickers, as they’re known)

• People who were interested in one product you sold in the past but have no interest in anything else

• People who joined on a whim, without knowing much about who you are or what you stand for.

• People who were customers – or people like to buy – but their circumstances have changed, or they’ve found what they are looking for.

• People who have changed their minds, lost interest or have moved onto other interests.

These people are totally useless to you. They make no difference to your bottom line and make your email database look flabby and unresponsive.

A lot of the above types will remain on your list, sometimes for years, because they don’t get emails from you very often, so it’s of no bother.

Think of your own inbox…

I bet there are emails that come through from companies you signed up to months or years ago. You’ve no interest really but they pop up so sporadically you’ve not become irritated enough to unsubscribe.

Same with your own database.

When you suddenly start emailing your subscribers regularly, offering information, recommendations, links and interesting stories…they’ll not be able to ignore you.

Either they will stay on board because they decide they’re interested… or they’ll leave in a hurry.

You WANT them to make that decision.

You WANT them to either love you or hate you.

Far better they make that choice than for them not to notice you at all, or to think “MEH” whenever your next email arrives.

This is why you’ll always get unsubscribes when you begin emailing people more often with valuable free content. And it’s also it’s actually good for your list and your sales in the long run.

Of course, the key is to qualify your list right at the point when they join.

In the next article I’ll give you a proven strategy for doing his. It will also help you get as many sales as possible in the first days or even hours after new people subscribe.