That’s what I “heard” when I saw the email.

I won’t lie to you – it hurts.

I’m a sensitive person, and sometimes I forget to put my big girl pants on when I get up in the morning.

The Power Of Being Unpopular: 3 Things You Can Learn From Angry Email Unsubscribes

(image source: Creatista via

Let’s face it, as a freelancer with the ability to work from home and meetings taking place via Skype, my work clothes usually consist of a t-shirt and yoga pants. (Sometimes in the winter that degrades into an even more unfashionable look when I tuck my pantlegs into my socks. Yup, charming. I tell my husband that it’s my “baseball uniform” look. )

This particular morning I reached over to my nightstand and, as we all do, grabbed my phone.

The notification showed a snippet that made my stomach lurch. “I unsubscribed in disgust” it read.

Eek. I had scheduled the email to go out earlier that in the early morning… There was No “undo” button. No way to take it back.

Panic. Hundreds of unsuspecting people were going to wake up and read my message and I’d get a flood of unsubscribes and angry messages and not just my day but my whole career, my life in fact, would be ruined.

Whhoooa sunshine. Breathe. Think about it less, well, emotionally.

Is it really the end of the world? As one wise woman in my mastermind group says “Did anyone die from it”?

Well, nooooo. {Unless you mean dying of embarrassment.}

The irony of the situation? My message was a funny, self-deprecating email, but with a subtle sales message…about National Awkward Moments Day!

Once I had time to cool down, I did a few things.

First, I responded, nicely.

{It still makes me chuckle that this person had been so “disgusted” by my time-wasting email, yet he actually took the time to send me a personal email as well.}

Angry emailer:

This “e-mail” is pure bullshit. Why are you wasting all of readers’ time with such “social” crap? Don’t worry — I unsubscribed in disgust.

My reply:

If you don’t see the message in the humour, then we are probably not a good fit for each other. And that’s perfectly ok. Have a great weekend!

Then I thought about the lessons I could learn from this experience. How could I turn this into something positive?

What is the silver lining?

And BING, lightbulb moment! I could write a blog post about it, and share my newfound wisdom as some actionable advice.

3 Takeaways From The Angry Unsubscribe Emailer Experience

Lesson #1: You can’t please everyone. And that’s ok.


Earlier in the week I had just re-watched Erika Napoletano’s Tedx Talk: Rethinking Unpopular. That point of view was still fresh in my mind, so it was easier to reframe this whole potentially negative experience.

The point she makes in her humorous, honest, irreverent sort of way is this: Marketing is all about differentiating yourself from your competition, attracting your ideal customers, and repelling those who are not right for you.

You can't please everyone. And that's ok. Share on X

Action step:

  • Review your blog posts, email copy, social media bios and status updates. What do they have in common? What do they say about you and your personal brand? How can you be more you?


Lesson #2: It’s a blessing in disguise. Most of us never “clean” our email list.

If your list is bloated and bumps you up to the next payment subscription level then those uninterested, unopened emails are actually costing you money.

Even Pat Flynn – who seems like the most helpful, honest, down-to-earth NICEST guy – gets email unsubscribes. (I got a glimpse of  them a recent SPI-TV episode, interestingly enough, about email marketing. FYI: He had hundreds of unsubscribes.) If it’s happening to one of  my favourite business crushes, then it can’t be all that bad.

Action step:

  • Review your email list. Delete any recurring “bounced emails”. (Often this happens simply because the email address is no longer in use). Delete anyone who hasn’t opened your last 5 emails. (Or you could give them a second chance and, using segmenting or tagging if your email service provides it, prompt them to let them know you’re breaking up with them.)
  • If your email provider allows “action targeting” then send a friendly email to those who have not opened your last 3 emails and ask them if they still want to receive your email goodness. Maybe they get too many emails in general, or maybe your topics are simply no longer relevant to their situation. Let them know that it’s ok to let go. No hard feelings.


Lesson #3: Was it something I said? Review your copywriting with an eye to improve.

Marketing copywriting isn’t my strong point (even though I’m a confident article and blog writer.)

So I thought: What was different about that email…or was it different at all? Maybe it’s time to cast a critical eye and review.

When I reread and analyzed the email, it wasn’t the humour (celebrating Awkward Moments Day) that was wrong. The message was totally aligned with my normal tone and voice. It was that the message wasn’t clear.

I thought there was a subtle “here’s how I can help you solve that” message. But rereading it? Hmmm. So I revised the text (too late for this time, but a learning experience) and added a paragraph tying in the humorous anecdote to a sales proposition and a call to action.

Even then, when I shared it with my mastermind buddy, she pointed out that a more blatant call to action was necessary, specifically one that bridged the gap between a higher-end program and my free stuff.

Ah, right.

{So once again I put on my big girl pants – reminding myself that constructive criticism is all part of running a successful business.}

Action step:

  • Take an hour or two to review your last 3 emails or blog posts, and your last 10 social media posts. If you’re brave enough, ask a mentor or business buddy to do this for you.


  • What could you change or improve? Was one vastly different than your regular “feel”? I’m not necessarily referring to “topics” I’m talking about “tone”. Does it seem out of alignment?

That’s what having a clearly defined personal brand does. It aligns you with your ideal audience. It is consistent. And yes, predictable. But in a good way. {Imagine if Apple suddenly made a commercial like the entertaining, out-there-in-left-field Old Spice ads? It just wouldn’t fit.}

Learn from your awkward moments. If everything is perfect you’re not trying hard enough. Share on X

There are clearly a few bright side revelations from my own “awkward moment”. It inspired me to take a look at what I could do better (“what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” as they say). And it gave me inspiration for this blog post.

Wins all around!

Do you have any awkward business moments to share? I’d love to know I’m not the only one!

Get your brand + website DONE in 3 weeks even if you're not techy.

Sign up + be the first to know the next time the small group program launches!

Woo hoo! Now go check your inbox to confirm (plus I have a surprise for you!)

Pin It on Pinterest