Churn Rate – Why Are They Leaving?

Meghan Flavin Advertising, Blog, Compliance, Content and Creative, Delivery Leave a Comment

Did you know that every year, no matter how hard you work at increasing your email subscriber list you will likely have about a 25% attrition or churn rate? That equates to one in four email addresses on your list dropping off for one reason or another. Also meaning that your email building efforts need to stay ahead of your list churn rate.

What is Churn Rate? According to, “Your churn rate is the amount of customers or subscribers who cut ties with your service or company during a given time period.” Sounds fairly straight forward, but how and why are these subscribers leaving?

Let’s look at the types of churn to gain some understanding of why people are leaving. There are two basic types of churn: transparent churn and opaque churn, as described by GetResponse.  Transparent churn describes the group that physically unsubscribes to your emails. This group can also include those that have blocked your email address and/or reported your correspondence as spam. This group is actively asking to no longer be a part of your email marketing effort. Reengaging this group is much more difficult as they have said they do not want to be contacted. [Consult a marketing professional regarding the ability to email this group going forward.] The second group, however, the opaque churn group describes a group that is more involuntary in nature. These users are not seeing your emails to begin with, therefore not opening them or otherwise converting. Either the original email is going to the spam or junk folder or possibly to an account that they rarely check/use. This group is open for re-engagement.

There are a variety of ways to calculate what your estimated churn rates are, but the opaque group adds another layer of grey scale since it is unknown whether subscribers have actually ever seen the original transmission. Regardless of how you measure the attrition, it is there in both forms.  Industry standard speaks to about 25%. So, how do you reduce that number?

We have touched on many of these areas in previous articles, but will review them again. To reduce your email subscriber churn rate, you can add automation rules that allow your subscribers to receive the email content that THEY are interested in, rather than being ‘spammed’ with mass emails. Allowing for your subscriber to give you information about their interests as they pertain to your business will actually increase their participation in your site and brand.

If you offer products and/or services, offer re-engagement incentives. As we discussed in a previous blog, reinvigorating an old email list can prove very worthwhile. By targeting the emotionally unsubscribed list or opaque list, you are offering the opportunity to reengage with your brand.  And note that offering an incentive does not always mean you have to give something away, rather offering the ability to opt-in to specific pieces of your campaign or business process can get these sleepers back into the fold. This can be done via a survey or a pop-up in a double opt-in process.

Regardless of how you attempt to reduce your email subscriber churn rate, it is essential to know why people leave and what the most effective ways are to get them to reengage.  The tactics for reinvigorating your email users will vary based on your business and/or service, so get back to the basics of reporting and then gauge your plan of attack from there.

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