Where Do Boring Marketing Emails Go to Die? New Data Shows What Your Email Stats Are Hiding


In a rational world, email marketing would go like this …

Someone opts into one of your email lists because they think your content, products, or services might be of interest to them.

When they start receiving your emails, they open them. (Or at least most of them; after all, everyone gets overwhelmed by email every so often.) Ideally, your excellent content will convert them into a customer in short order.

But say your subscriber doesn’t convert right away. Maybe they even start to feel like you’re sending too many emails, but they still want to keep in touch. So they click the handy “Update Subscription Preferences” link that you’re certain to include in every email and adjust the frequency downward—maybe to once a week.

That should do it, but in a worst-case scenario, say your subscriber actually stops being a part of your target audience. Maybe you run a dating site and they get married; maybe you market to small business owners and they retire. In this case, neither you nor the subscriber benefits when they remain on your list. So they simply unsubscribe.

Given all that, your subscriber count is a pretty good reflection of the size of your email audience. On the flipside, your unsubscribe rate indicates the (hopefully small) percentage of people who have tuned you out.


Well, not exactly. In fact, a survey we conducted this month reveals that fewer than half of U.S. email users can be expected to behave according to this rational model.

At LeadPages, we specialize in super-effective list-building tools—but we also know that who those leads are and how you follow up with them make a huge difference to your ultimate success rate. And while email list size is an important metric for nearly any business, we wondered: how accurately does it reflect the size of your actual audience—the number of people who are really paying attention?

To find out, we ran a survey via Google Consumer Surveys, taking a sample of 1,000 email users from across the U.S. We asked them one big question:

”When you stop being interested in emails from a particular company or organization, what do you usually do?”

Here’s what we learned:

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