Confession:  I subscribe to a lot of email lists. I love to see what my peers are doing to promote their businesses. The upside of this is I see some amazing and inspiring work. The downside is I spend a lot of time unsubscribing. 

Here are ten ways to get your reader to unsubscribe:

  1. Be self-absorbed:  Your latest offer, your new feature, your time-sensitive discount or your demand for a "15-minute" call have no value to me when I don't even know what you're selling. 
  2. Send an ugly email: If you don't take the design seriously, I can't take you seriously. Thankfully there are companies like Email Monks that will create great designs quickly and affordably.  
  3. Design for the desktop:  Sixty percent of people open email on their mobile phones. Make it easy for them to read what you send. Mobile-responsive emails scale to fit the device that opens them, this is not the same thing as mobile-friendly.  Design for mobile first.
  4. Be irrelevant: I expect newsletters to be filled with content that's actionable for me. And actionable does not mean "click to buy now." Actionable means ideas I can put into practice in the short-term to improve my business or my life.  I expect to learn something.
  5. Write badly: It's difficult to proof your own writing, so have someone else do it. If this isn't possible, read your copy out loud and run it through a grammar checker like Grammarly.
  6. Lack passion: Do the best you can to make your content interesting, if not inspiring. Strive to be better than your fiercest competitor. If you don't believe in your product, who will?
  7. Don't test:  Do not even think of hitting send until you've checked your personalization, content, links and visual elements on a mobile phone, and a few different email clients. If you cannot commit to testing, the best course of action is to keep your messages clean and simple.  
  8. Ignore the plain text and web versions: Make sure your links and formatting work here too.
  9. Use cheesy, link-bait, irrelevant subject lines:  An "open" gets you nothing so don't try to improve this metric with inauthentic subject lines.  
  10. Insincere:  This is the biggest sin of all.  Be authentic.

Now that you know what not to do, you can start adding value to your audience.  Segment your list by buyer persona and then focus on adding value. While segmentation is more work, it has a much higher payoff and gives you a much better chance of keeping that reader on your list and turning them into a customer.