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Five Ways to Improve Your Email Unsubscribe Process

Five Ways to Improve Your Email Unsubscribe Process


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In this post we look at how to make the email unsubscribe process as easy as possible for users, and to ensure that they leave your list with a positive impression of your brand. 
People will unsubscribe from your emails, it’s a fact of life. Maybe they just signed up for the discount, maybe they no longer need the products you sell, or perhaps they think you email them too often.
Whichever it is, it makes sense to let them go as easily as possible, avoiding any bad vibes. It’s good to give other options where appropriate or to try and find out why, but it makes no sense to place obstacles in the way.
Here are some tips for a smooth unsubscribe process.

Make the Unsubscribe Link Easy to Find

Email marketers can be coy about showing the unsubscribe link, as if people will just give up if they can’t find it.
By hiding it, or making the link look like plain text (as below), you’re just increasing the chances that people will use the ‘report spam’ button in their email client, which is potentially much more damaging.
Email Unsubscribe link
Instead, a clear link in the footer will be enough in most cases, as the BBC does here. It’s clear, and not buried amongst the terms and conditions.
Email Unsubscribe link
Some marketers make it even more prominent. Pizza Express has its unsubscribe link at the top of emails.
Email Unsubscribe Pizza Express

Make the Unsubscribe Process Fast

If people click the email unsubscribe button, make sure they can opt to leave the list quickly.
There’s no need to add any further obstacles here. Some sites have been known to make you sign in to unsubscribe, to un-check lots of boxes or worse.
Having to enter my email, as one retailer asks me to here, is an unnecessary and annoying extra step.
Email Unsubscribe link
Here, users are tricked into opting back in simply by closing a dialog box.

Instead, users should be able to opt out a click or two from the unsubscribe button. Some make it even faster. Here, Funky Pigeon unsubscribes me in just one click, taking me straight from the email to the confirmation page.
Email Unsubscribe confirmation
Some would argue that this is too fast, as Funky Pigeon is missing the opportunity to offer other options, or to find out why people are unsubscribing.

Provide the Opportunity to Change Marketing Preferences

Clicking the unsubscribe link may mean the customer wants to unsubscribe from everything, and you shouldn’t prevent that, but it can also be an idea to offer other options.
For example, some subscribers may just find some types of emails less relevant, or perhaps feel that they’re being emailed too often.
Here’s an example from Eurostar, in which customers can select which emails they do and don’t want, or simply opt out of everything.
Email Unsubscribe choose preferences

Ask Why People Are Unsubscribing

The email unsubscribe landing page presents an opportunity to ask customers why they are deciding to opt out.
Either through check boxes, or open ended questions like this, you can gain some useful feedback which can help reduce unsubscribes in future. Just don’t make it compulsory.
Email Unsubscribe

Own Your Unsubscribe Page

I unsubscribed from a few marketing emails when writing this article, and was surprised by how many use basic templates to confirm that customers have unsubscribed.
It’s functional, but it doesn’t leave the best impression of your brand to customers.
Instead, a bespoke unsubscribe confirmation page offers an opportunity to present your brand in the best possible light, and perhaps to remind them why they subscribed in the first place.

Instead, a bespoke unsubscribe confirmation page offers an opportunity to present your brand in the best possible light, and perhaps to remind them why they subscribed in the first place.


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Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.