Using Email to Minimize Subscriber Churn

There’s so much more to email marketing than setting up and
sending attractive email campaigns to your list. Between the
design, creation, testing, and monitoring, there are many moving
parts that your team must consider. Monitoring
key benchmarks
is one way to track your campaign’s

While many marketers focus on open and click-through rates,
there are other benchmarks you’ll want to watch, too, like
subscriber churn and unsubscribe rates.

While your subscriber churn rate isn’t a typical email metric,
this tricky rate could, eventually, end up costing your brand

What is a subscriber churn rate?

A subscriber churn rate is the percentage of new subscribers
that cancel their subscriptions or do not renew during a given time
period. As a marketer, you send out emails, update blogs, and keep
the sales funnel full of potential new subscribers or clients.

Unfortunately, just because someone decides to join your email
list or try your product doesn’t mean they’re interested for
the long run.

On average, the typical churn rate for subscription
services falls between
When it comes to email subscriber churn rate, recent
studies have shown that around
half of an email list will churn
within the first

What causes email list subscriber churn?

Email list subscriber churn happens more frequently than
marketing teams like to admit. It stings when you’ve spent
countless days, hours, and resources building your email list for
some of them to unsubscribe.

When it comes
to email list subscriber churn
, there are two types:

  • Those who choose to unsubscribe from your emails, effectively
    ending the relationship.
  • Those who simply go inactive, choosing not to interact with
    your emails but remain on your list.

There are several reasons why your list may churn. If you
aren’t maintaining the health of your email list, then you’ll
begin to see your bottom line suffer.

So, before we dive into various email campaigns to help your
marketing team minimize subscriber churn, let’s look at the steps
necessary to maintain a healthy email list.

Maintaining a healthy email list

is a vital part of any email marketing strategy. Every email
list should be reviewed periodically so marketers can remove
bounced email addresses, remove unengaged subscribers, and update
any email addresses that may have changed.

These practices will help you uncover your disengaged
subscribers. While there is little you can do about those who
choose to unsubscribe, there is a chance to bring inactive
subscribers back into the fold.

The first step is to define and identify your inactive
subscribers. While some choose to define inactive subscribers as
contacts who haven’t engaged with an email newsletter in six or
more months, your own time frame will come down to the frequency
with which you send emails.

If you send a weekly newsletter, then it would make sense to
define inactivity based on six months. However, if you’re only
sending out monthly or quarterly, you may need to stretch out that

Once you’ve defined what inactivity means for your brand,
you’ll want to get to the root of the problem. You can do this by
finding out why your subscribers stopped engaging with your

Walgreens does an excellent job of this. They implement an email
preference section in each profile that allows subscribers to
choose which emails they want to receive and if they choose to
unsubscribe, they can tell you why.

Walgreens Email Preference Center

Source: Walgreens

Walgreens email preference center

Source: Walgreens

How can email marketers minimize subscriber churn?

Once you’ve done the dirty work and found out why your
subscribers disengage or unsubscribe from your email list, you can
then begin to minimize subscriber churn by implementing various
email campaigns.

Read on for real-world examples of email campaigns designed to
minimize subscriber churn by re-engaging your inactive

Re-engagement campaigns

Now, we mentioned that there was little you could do for those
who choose to unsubscribe from your email list. Still, you can
confirm their cancellation with them, just in case the unsubscribe
was an accident.

Take this example from Beta List. They fully acknowledge the
consumer’s request to be removed from their email subscriber

However, they offer a chance for these contacts to re-engage and
re-subscribe, whether at a later date or right away.

They even give the user the option to subscribe to a different
send preference.

Beta List re-engagement email example

Really Good Emails

Re-engagement campaigns are ideal for inactive subscribers as
well as the people who have already unsubscribed. Before completely
removing them from your email subscriber list, it’s worth the
effort to try and re-engage them since it
costs more to acquire customers than to retain them.

Digiday does an excellent job of trying to re-engage their
inactive subscribers with this “what you’ve been missing”
campaign. Instead of hounding readers with reasons they should
return to the platform, they created a newsletter-style campaign
that gives inactive subscribers a little taste of what’s been
happening in the time they’ve been away.

This is outstanding because it gives little snippets to entice
the reader without giving away all the gold, meaning that
subscribers will have to click links to learn more, and that
involves engaging with the email.

Digiday’s re-engagement email outlines what inactive subscribers have been missing

Really Good Emails


Incentives are an excellent way to get inactive subscribers to
reconsider engaging with a brand. Once you’ve identified
subscribers who have gone cold, try offering them something worth
coming back for.

In this example from Snap Kitchen, readers are enticed with
benefits. The promise of benefits leaves readers wanting to know
more as do the details addressed later in the email.

Promotions can come in any shape and can run for a given period
of time. Your promotion may even take the form of a single-use
coupon specifically designed for your re-engagement campaign.

Earn Free Food Promotion with Snap Kitchen

Really Good Emails

Other tips to reduce email subscriber churn

There are various reasons for subscriber churn, and one is that
a lot of new subscribers can get lost in the constant shuffle of
your funnels. Setting up an automated welcome email campaign can
reduce email subscriber churn.

Welcome campaigns show new subscribers you’re happy to have
them on your list. This promotes engagement by providing
information to new subscribers, such as what they can expect from
your newsletter or even incentives for joining.

In the case of this Converse welcome campaign, new subscribers
aren’t just welcomed. They also receive a preview of benefits and
top-selling products.

Converse Welcome Email Campaign

Campaign Monitor

Another way to minimize subscriber churn is to make use of
double opt-ins. This ensures that the subscriber genuinely wants to
be on your list. It also helps verify that they aren’t
accidentally subscribing to something they don’t want to be
involved with.

Finally, make sure you create and send relevant content to your
list. If you aren’t, then subscribers will quickly lose interest
in what you send, leading to inactivity or unsubscribes.

Wrap up

Some level of subscriber churn is inevitable. However, marketing
teams can take action to combat that churn and bring once-invested
subscribers back into the fray.

Some examples of email campaigns to use include:

  • Incentives
  • re-engagement campaigns
  • Win back campaigns

Want to learn more about subscriber churn and how to minimize
it? Then check out our guide on 10 ways to help
reduce churn
with email campaigns. Not sure if your metrics are
meeting industry standards?
Our benchmarks guide can help.

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Using Email to Minimize Subscriber Churn
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Using Email to Minimize Subscriber Churn