Make Unsubscribing A Good Experience

Few of us enjoy it when customers unsubscribe to an email marketing campaign but it is an important and misunderstood of the email marketing process. Some people subscribe by mistake, so providing the opt-out in the first and every email is the best way to minimize complaints and keep consumers from pushing the “report-a-spam” button.

In a recent survey of 400+ Web marketers, 96% of respondents say they include an unsubscribe link in their promotional emails. 45% reported including an unsubscribe link in customer service emails, 40% in auto responders, and just 31% in transactional emails. About 10% said they don’t know if their non-promotional emails include an unsubscribe link.

The survey also found that surprisingly few marketers are using unsubscribes as relationship-enhancing or research opportunities. Fewer than 20% reported including a goodbye message in the unsubscribe confirmation, and just one in 10 included outreach such as a customer-service phone number, an incentive to re-subscribe or update a profile, an exit survey to learn the reasons for unsubscribing or offer suggestions, or a reminder about other channels, such as RSS feeds or direct mail.

Here are some recommendations to improve your unsubcriber customer experience.

Profile Update

  • While providing an easy unsubscribe option is paramount, it is important to give subscribers options other than simply severing the email relationship. Subscribers may want to change their email addresses, change which types of email content they’re receiving, or reduce or increase the number of messages they’re receiving from your organization.
  • The perfect user experience: Click one takes users to their pre-populated profiles, they select unsubscribe or change their profile information, and then click confirm to launch the changes. (Users should also be given an alternate option if the profile update fails to work, meaning contact information for a Web form or customer service.)
  • Requiring a password in the profile results in frustration for those who have forgotten their passwords, encouraging complaints and spam-button pushing.

Acknowledge the Unsubscribe

  • Immediately acknowledge the unsubscribe in the same medium that was used to request removal. Confirm on the landing page when the request comes in via clicking a link, and email the confirmation when the user uses an auto-reply unsubscribe or sends an unsubscribe email message.
  • Offer other ways to get information. Thank exiting subscribers for their previous patronage.

Make Unsubscribe Visible

  • Hiding the unsubscribe with”tiny” type (8 point or smaller), light gray type on a white background, and spacing to push the unsubscribe language far down in the message body is not a good practice. Such tricks don’t violate CAN-SPAM, but they go against the spirit of putting consumers in control of their in-boxes.
  • Use the same type and font size as the body of the message for the unsubscribe option, and place it close to other live copy in the message to make it easy to see and use.


  • Ask a few survey questions to determine why the customer is unsubcribing. This is optional and should not be more than 3 questions. Getting feedback can help you improve content, segmentation, or other issues.

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