So You’ve Got a High Subscriber Churn Rate, Now What?

target-group-3460041_960_720-300x200  Ignoring the fact that customers are falling out of your funnel won’t help your bottom line — let’s fix this.

There are a lot of factors that need to be considered when determining if your email marketing efforts are working. For example, you likely report on open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribes monthly — but are you looking at your churn rates?

Do you know where you’re losing customers in your customer journey road map? In most cases, it doesn’t just happen overnight, nor at one specific point in the journey. It often happens over time, and the fact is are generally a number of warning signs before someone leaves your company forever.

Before digging in, let’s take a quick look at what you’ll take away from this article:

  • Why you need to know and monitor your subscriber churn rates
  • Retaining subscribers is possible, you just need to learn how
  • Use the buyer’s journey to send you down the right path
  • Segment your email marketing lists for best results
  • Nurturing campaigns can help keep your customers active

The Importance of Subscriber Churn Rates

So, why is understanding your customer journey and identifying where subscribers are churning so important? Well, the biggest reason is that it is much more profitable for a company to retain a customer than to market to a new customer. In fact, having a 5% increase in customer retention can actually lead to profit increased from 25 – 95%.

When looking at your analytics, you want to see churn rates decrease over time. The ideal situation would be to see acquisition rates well above the number of customer churn rates. This would mean that you obtained more new subscribers than the number you lost over a certain time period — this could be monitored monthly, quarterly, or however often you decide is necessary.

But email churn rates tend to be on the higher end, making reducing the number of customers churning a hard task. Only about 56% of new email subscribers actually remain on lists after the first year of subscribing. That means that almost half of new subscribers churn within a year. That’s a huge number of subscribers to lose.


When it comes to email lists, customer retention can vary. While some companies can find themselves retaining 80%+ after one year, most companies are finding it hard to retain much more than half of their new subscribers. Image courtesy of Marketing Charts.

If you’re reading this article and starting to get a little nervous about your high churn rates and lower retention numbers, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Customer retention has been identified by marketers across the board is one of their most important strategies to focus and improve on. You just need to spend time understanding when and why your customers and subscribers are churning and implement a few preventative measures.


Customer retention is a big priority for companies today. It even comes in slightly ahead of revenue and profit growth — just proving that it is a very important and valuable business need. Image courtesy of Act-on.

So where do we go from here? Now that you understand why managing email churn rates is important, let’s take a look at how you can reduce the loss of subscribers.

Reduce Your Subscriber Churn Rates

There are a number of different ways you can work to reduce your subscriber churn rates. We’ll take a look at three different ways that will send you down the path to increased retention and profitability.

1.  Understanding Your Buyer’s Journey

You’ve already seen the idea of understanding your buyer’s journey in this article, but it’s very important to understanding where your subscribers are leaving the funnel. Once you understand where customers are the leak in your funnel is, you can then start to identify ways to improve that function and begin to identify at-risk subscribers.

When we talk about the buyer’s journey we’re looking at the process of a user going from a visitor to a subscriber and ultimately becoming a purchasing customer. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Awareness: this would be when a user has found your company in their search for an item or service they may be in need of.
  • Consideration: this visitor has become a subscriber and wants to learn more about your company, but may not be ready to commit to purchasing quite yet.
  • Decision: your subscriber has completed the process and made a purchase from you.

Why is it important to understand how your customers move through the buying process? Because customers are expecting you to understand their needs and expectations and cater to them. Additionally, people are willing to pay more for a great experience. Image courtesy of Convince & Convert.

You can find much more detailed buyer journey maps out there, but as a basic overview, this is what the process looks like. To improve your subscriber churn rates, you’re going to want to study and understand this process for your current contact base. Keep in mind that there will be various journeys depending on the persona you are mapping.

Spending time mapping out the journey your customers and subscribers are taking may be a tedious process, but it will help you to understand and improve your email list churn rates.

2.  Segmenting Your Email Lists for Better Personalization

List segmentation will help you retain customers by understanding their wants and needs. You’ve probably heard this advice before and for good reason. Segmenting your email list can result in 64% more clicks than non-segmented lists.


List segmentation has been proven to improve email marketing metrics across the board. From increased open rates to a decrease in the number of unsubscribes, segmentation will only benefit your email marketing efforts. Image courtesy of Marketing Charts

Why does list segmentation improve click rates so drastically you may wonder. Well, it’s all about personalization and knowing what content and offers your customers want to see. The more relevant the information a subscriber receives, the more likely it is to have a positive impact on them.

By providing users with valuable content, it will, in turn, lower your churn rates. You should expect to see increased engagement and sales across the board. Your segmentation efforts can be as simple or complex as you need it to be.

A simple example could be, if you sell both men’s and women’s clothing, make sure you are sending your male subscribers clothing they would be interested in and vice versa. While a more complex segmentation process might use predictive product recommendations for that same subscriber to provide them with additional products they may want or need.

To help you get started with your list segmentation, here are a few examples of how you can easily start to segment your list:

  • Age and gender
  • Geographical location
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Previous purchasing behavior

The more information you know about everyone on your email list, the better experience you can provide them and keep them active in the future.

3.  Utilize Marketing Automation Platforms to Create Nurturing Campaigns

Last but not least in our top three ways to improve email subscriber rates is to utilize marketing automation platforms to build nurturing campaigns. What this means is that you should have predetermined nurturing campaigns in place designed to continue communication with your subscribers on a regular basis.

These could be as simple as sending customers product recommendations or sales every few weeks, or as complex as providing content to new subscribers to help move them through the sales funnel to ultimately make a sale.


Nurturing campaigns can drastically increase the number of leads and sales from your email marketing campaigns. By keeping frequent communication between you and your customer, it’s much more likely they will continue to be an active subscriber on your email list. Image courtesy of autopilot.

But it is important to consider where your subscriber is in their journey. New leads will not take the same nurturing path as your existing customers. For example, you wouldn’t want to send a brand new subscriber down the same path as your most loyal customers. Doing this would likely increase your email churn rates.

You need to take the time to warm them up and get to know their interests to really improve conversions and lessen the chance of churning. As you get to know them better and begin to understand the information they are engaging with and interested in, you can improve their experience and opinion of your company — which should help decrease churn rates.

Here are a few different examples of nurturing campaigns that you can put into place:

  • Welcome campaigns
  • Recommended and highly reviewed product emails
  • Loyalty program communication
  • Event campaigns
  • Abandoned cart reminders
  • Transactional emails

Nurturing campaigns are a great way to stand out from the crowd and once you’ve done the initial setup, you can add customers automatically as they meet the campaign requirements. Subscribers will be happy to receive relevant information and will look forward to your emails, rather than becoming another churn statistic.

Don’t Let Churn Rates Bring You Down

It’s easy to see high churn rates and just chalk it up to a monthly stat that you’re stuck with. But that just isn’t the truth.

It’s very possible to decrease your subscriber churn rates and improve your retention and email attributed sales numbers. By following these three churn-reducing email processes, you can start to reverse negative churn rates and start seeing more engaged subscribers.

Putting a little extra hard work in to truly understand your subscriber and customer base will provide you with yield positive benefits in the end. So what are you waiting for? Now’s the perfect time to start thinking about how to get started on your subscriber retention strategy.

    Want to know if your marketing efforts are actually working? If so, download our FREE Marketing Audit!
    Just enter your name and email address below.