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The Art of the Email Unsubscribe Page

If your company is going to be a leader in email marketing, you need to be as good with saying goodbye as you are with saying hello.

There’s nothing more frustrating for an email recipient than providing a confusing unsubscribe process when they want to opt out. It not only violates CAN-SPAM if it’s a bulk email, but it’s also a poor user experience that inspires more users to click the spam button.

Keep this in mind: even if someone wants out of your marketing mail, they still will be getting transactional email from you if they buy something, do a password reset, etc. That means that irritation with a bad unsubscribe experience will translate over to everything you send them in the future.

Here’s a few tips based on my experiences. Keep in mind that the ease in which people can remove themselves from your list can increase the chance of them returning, so don’t treat them as pariahs.

  • Unsubscribe users immediately. Don’t wait for 7-10 days and risk sending them more unwanted email that may be queued up in your system already. When someone unsubs, they want out so let them do it.
  • Provide a single click opt-out with no login required. Again, this is a CAN-SPAM policy but forcing people to log in to unsubscribe is incredibly lame and annoying.
  • Along with that single click opt-out, offer a preference center in which they get different options to get email from you (less frequency, more niche content, etc). This is a huge area in which many companies trip up and lose more subscribers than they would otherwise. It’s an on-demand world so the more you can cater to your user’s wants and needs, the longer they will stay with you. Here’s a few examples for inspiration.

With that preference center, you could also create a memorable unsubscribe page where you post a sad video or something that tells those leaving that you’ll miss them. I can see both positives and negatives on doing this. On one hand, you want to endear yourself to the person opting out, perhaps in hopes of retaining them. It’s also a nice branding/marketing ploy that gets you linked on sites like this.

On the other hand, when people want to unsubscribe, they want to do just that. Make it simple and let the person get on with their day. I haven’t seen stats to indicate that creating a funny video will help curb unsubscribes, so I’m guessing that if there was a big difference, everyone would be doing them.

Take a few minutes and review your unsubscribe process. What you find out may help you retain more users than you lose.


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Whois: Josh Nason

Josh Nason is a Reputation Manager at Oracle Dyn Global Business Unit, a pioneer in managed DNS and a leader in cloud-based infrastructure that connects users with digital content and experiences across a global internet.