Thursday, 10 February 2011

I'm a subscriber, get me out of here!

It was no laughing matter when I read on the Return Path site that found only ''one out of 47 brands that enable customers to opt-out of emails offer alternative communication channels, such as social media, RSS, traditional post or SMS, as part of their unsubscribe process''

Of course ideally we wouldn't want any of our subscribers or customers to unsubscribe from our newsletters or promotional emails, but of course it happens.

And of course it could happen purely becasue the customer has actually on moved on and is generally not interested in what you have to offer. More often than not, however, it is as a result of us as marketers not following the basics of giving the subscriber what they want, when they want it and in a format they want.

Now of course as they want to unsubscribe we should make that process as painless as possible, but use it as an opportunity to learn something to make our future campaings more relevant.

So here is my top 10 tips for that process

1 - Provide a way to unsubscribe directly via the website (rather than only via an email message)

2 - If you must make users log in to unsubscribe, give them simple ways to recover their usernames and passwords

3 - On the unsubscribe page, list the user’s email address and current newsletters, and a simple way to unsubscribe from any or all newsletters.

4 - Make the unsubscribe process self-explanatory. If you have to include instructions, include them in the email and on the site and make sure they are clear

5 - Offer users an option to change the frequency of the newsletter as an alternative to unsubscribing

6 - Provide a confirmation screen verifying that the user’s email address has been unsubscribed from the newsletters

7 - On the confirmation page, list other ways to receive updates from your company, such as through social networks or a blog

8 - If you ask users for feedback about why they are unsubscribing, make the feedback process optional and as easy as possible

9 - Send only one email confirmation to users after they unsubscribe, listing any newsletters users have asked to stop receiving. Don’t send them any email after that

10 - Unsubscribe users immediately. If this isn't possible, tell users how long it may take for your system to register their changes

(Photograph: ITV/Rex Features)


  1. Here is my tip that should replace nr 2:
    2 - Don't! make users log in to unsubscribe.

    Making people jump through hoops before they can unsubscribe will only make them angry. Why do you need them to confirm their identity, you sent them the email. Remember, the spam button is just one click away.

  2. Hi Jordie.. you are right. I think that most marketers I work with actually don't realise the problems the Spam button causes long term!

  3. I love #7. It's something we actually don't do right now at BSF (we're an email service provider ourselves), but will start.

    Also, I know opinions on #9 will differ, but I disagree with the confirmation email. I realize it serves as a record of the unsubscribe, but I think the emails should stopped immediately with just a confirmation web page.

    We give 7 tips on our blog: - I like Tip #7 - test it yourself! I'll also add that you should test other email opt-outs to see what others are doing. Get ideas from other campaigns.

    Great tips!

    Amy Garland
    Marketing Manager, Blue Sky Factory

  4. Amy, thanks for the feedback. I think we can agree to disagree on #9. In terms of other unsub options, chaeck out this hilarious Groupon page