The unsubscribe metric is a necessary evil. While you’d love your subscribers to stay on your list forever, that is an impossibility. Though you loathe to look at your unsubscribe rate, you know it’s far better to make it easy for recipients to remove themselves from your list, than force them to mark you as spam and negatively affect your email deliverability.  Unfortunately, when you run those pesky reports, you invariably are faced with an unsubscribe percentage that you aren’t quite sure what to do with. Are your unsubscribe rates normal, or way above industry averages?

Find out where you rank when it comes to unsubscribe rates for your industry? Take a look at this chart from the 2012 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study.

Travel and Leisure has the highest unsubscribe rate followed by real estate and construction. This may be because the nature of these industries. Once the subscriber finds what they are looking for – an affordable hotel, cheap flight or new home, their interests divert to other things. On the other end of the spectrum, non-profits have the lowest unsubscribe rate – a great sign for organizations that fund raise. Computer software also performed well.

In short, attrition is normal. People’s interests change and they will invariably remove themselves from your list. What you need to pay attention to are spikes and inconsistencies. If you have a 1% unsubscribe rate and it suddenly doubles, analyze your latest campaigns to see what caused the anomaly. Additionally, you can use your chart to see if your norms are in line with the industry or way out of scope. If so, you’ll need to address your email program to see how you can improve those metrics and spark better engagement with your subscribers.

With more than 15 years of experience, Carly Brantz is an email deliverability and inbound marketing veteran. As the VP of Revenue Marketing at SendGrid, Carly empowers her team to transform marketing from a cost center to a revenue generator. With a key focus on funnel optimization, Carly leads the team responsible for content creation, lead nurturing, SEO/SEM, and website optimization. An accomplished speaker, Carly shares her email delivery and revenue marketing tactics as a headline speaker on SendGrid’s international roadshow as well as other Marketing conferences.