March 26, 2019 | Insurance Agent Engine

Are Email Unsubscribes a Bad Thing? (Not Necessarily)

When it comes to email marketing for your insurance business, most of your efforts are probably focused on growing your list. There can be a real sense of pride as you watch your subscriber numbers climb higher and higher; it can really feel like your marketing efforts are paying off.

But what happens if your unsubscribe rate is growing? Is this a bad thing?

Spoiler alert: not necessarily.

Consider this:

The whole point of email marketing is to generate leads. How well are your emails converting?

  • The average open rate for insurance industry emails is around 20%.
  • Only 2% (on average) of insurance industry emails get any clicks.

When you look at those two figures, it’s safe to say that 80% of your list is likely ignoring your emails, while almost all (98%) aren’t doing what you want (clicking on your CTAs).

What’s up with that?

Some of the tips and tactics you may have used to initially grow your list may have been a special offer or contest promotion. You dangled something cool and shiny in front of your list recipients, and they gave you their emails in exchange for your ebook, downloadable guide, or to enter to win the widget-or-what’s-it.

They weren’t truly interested in your insurance products, advice, tips, or articles.

Maybe your emails weren’t relevant. Or you sent too many.

Or too few.

For whatever reason, there’s likely a good chunk of your audience who’s failing to open or engage with your email marketing.

And there could even be a sizeable number that’s unsubscribing from your list, too.

But, like we mentioned before, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Unsubscribes = Healthier Lists

If you’ve managed to keep a houseplant or two alive, you’ve likely stumbled upon this fascinating care tip: pruning plants makes them healthier.

If you lose subscribers who never opened or clicked your emails, sure, you may be reducing the number of people on your list. But you may be increasing your conversion rates.

And the better your open and click rates are, the better chance your future emails have of avoiding the dreaded SPAM folder.

Email service providers such as Google, Yahoo, and Outlook use SPAM filters to determine if an incoming email is one you want to see - or garbage that should be hidden from your view. SPAM filters track subscriber actions, such as whether or not they open an email or not, to become better at identifying SPAM.

If 80% of your list habitually ignores your emails, their SPAM filters are learning that your emails aren’t worthy of even showing up in the inbox.

Cleaning your Email List

If losing subscribers who don’t engage with you is a good thing, do you really have to wait around for someone to remove themselves from your list?


You can increase your conversion rates by performing a little “subscriber spring-cleaning” yourself.

Start by segmenting your list into 3 categories:

  1. The “never opens”: subscribers who haven’t opened an email in the past 3-6 months.
  2. The “inactives”: subscribers who’ve opened a few emails in the past 3 - 6 months.
  3. The “actives”: subscribers who regularly open emails.

Now that you’ve clearly identified the subscribers who never open your emails, it’s time to scrub them from your list. This may be a large number of subscribers. It could feel very scary. Terrifying. Take a leap of faith anyways.

Remember, if they’re not opening your emails, they’re lowering your conversion rates.

What should you do with the “inactive” segment of your list: people who’ve maybe opened a few emails but aren’t regularly engaging with you?

Try deploying a re-engagement campaign to regain their interest.

A re-engagement campaign (also called a “win-back campaign”) can be as simple as a “hey, we miss you” or “I’ve noticed you’re not getting my emails.”

The point is to try and re-engage an audience who may have tuned you out.

But you can also turn your re-engagement campaign into an opportunity to intentionally lighten your list even more. Give your users two CTA’s to choose from:

  • Keep me on your list!
  • Unsubscribe me - it’s not you, it’s me.

Sure, you may lose some more list members who realize they don’t really need what you’ve been sending.

But you also may have reminded some passive audience members that they do, in fact, want to hear from you.

You’ve Chopped Down Your List. Now What?

Scrubbing your email list can be pretty intense, particularly if you’ve been using email subscribers as a KPI to measure your marketing success.

Intentionally hacking away at your list, removing subscribers, and giving others a CTA to unsubscribe can feel really unsettling.

But here’s the good news.

Just like a plant that’s had all of its old, dried up, and nonflowering stems removed, your list is now ready to bloom.

Because what you’ve got left are the subscribers who

  • Really want to hear from you
  • Regularly open your emails
  • Click on your CTAs
  • Convert

Now you can focus on keeping this core list really happy with quality email content, which means it can check the box in these areas:

  • Segmented and personalized.
  • Compelling subject lines.
  • Relevant information.
  • Short and friendly.
  • Mobile-friendly.
  • Proof-read and professional.
  • Delivered regularly on a consistent schedule.


Email marketing can be a highly successful marketing tool for your insurance business. It’s the perfect opportunity to reach your audience directly.

But, just like a beloved houseplant, your email list needs a little TLC to really bloom. And that means seeing unsubscribes as a positive opportunity to improve your conversion rates and taking the time to proactively prune away subscribers who aren’t engaging with your content.

Unsubscribes? Not necessarily a bad thing at all.