Outside of Mindvalley, I do get strange looks from people when I tell them that having people unsubscribe from your list is actually a good thing.

“But the cost per lead is $4.5, we cannot simply let them go like that, that’s like throwing away money.”

Yes. You can. And you should. Because there is something worse than unsubscribes.

I was having lunch with a friend of mine the other day. She was starting her own business and she wanted to pick my brain on how to best build and engage a list and what metrics she should look at to measure the performance of her product funnels.

We ended up talking about managing unsubscribes and complaints, and how not managing this properly can significantly impact inbox placement rates.

Because a lot of her broadcasts and drip campaigns received a high complaint percentage, I suggested that she adds an extra unsubscribe link on the top of the email, to make it extremely easy for contacts to unsubscribe from her mailing list.

Very often, this is a low hanging fruit for fixing high complaint rates. Because the unsubscribe link is very obvious, recipients are more likely to click the unsubscribe link in your email than to hit the ‘spam’ button.

Your complaint rates will go down, and your unsubscribe rates will go up. You actively work on reducing the size of your list, but the lead quality of your list goes up. It’s an easy equation.

To prove this hypothesis we ran a small test at Mindvalley with one of our businesses that could use better delivery rates at the time. Because we were getting too many complaints, this resulted in a bad IP reputation, automatically lowering our delivery rates.

The goal was to bring the IP reputation up to standards. We used ReturnPath’s free tool called SenderScore to measure the impact (note that SenderScore only takes a small sample of your emails and thus I wouldn’t recommend using it to make strategic decisions about your email marketing campaigns – you’d be better off purchasing their monitoring suite for better accuracy.)

The only thing we added was an unsubscribe link at the top of each email, except for the first 3 emails in the funnel.

Here’s what happened:

In exactly two weeks, the IP reputations for all three IP addresses in that pool were around 97, as you can see in the graph below.

After that, just for testing purposes, we reversed the test to see whether removing the link would actually cause a drop in our reputations again. As you can see in the next graph, it did.

Pretty interesting results…

By giving contacts that were already on the brink of unsubscribing or complaining that final push of moving the unsubscribe link up, we could drastically improve the reputation of our IP pool and consequently increase our delivery rates. This allows more emails to be delivered to the people who actually want it.

If you are acquiring traffic – no matter through what traffic source – and you find that your emails get many complaints, enough to impact your delivery rates, the above is a great temporary fix.

However, to decrease the amount of complaints in the long run, you need to bring more relevance and engagement to your campaigns. To really optimize your product funnels, you need to analyze the root cause of your list’s complaints and unsubscribing in the first place.

The root cause is often a discrepancy between the way you acquire leads and how you follow up with them in your funnels. The more precise your targeting, the better you can generate revenue overall (in this case – through a funnel).

Though I do advocate the extra unsubscribe link simply to keep your list clean, it’s important to focus on optimizing the level of congruence between the leads you acquire and how you can provide relevancy in your follow-up. If you can weave in a consistent value proposition from beginning to end and manage expectations properly, you’ll find that you will be able to better engage leads in your funnels.

What are your thoughts on encouraging unsubscribing in place of better list quality? Post your comments and any questions you have below, and share this piece with your network and your team to spread the knowledge. Thanks for reading :)