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7 Unsubscribe Best Practices for Email Marketers

Cat Hunter 2/9/21 1:34 PM

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Parting is such sweet sorrow. Keep your breakups classy with these unsubscribe best practices for email marketers.

Breaking up is hard to do. As email marketers, no one likes to see their lists shrinking, but unsubscribes are a fact of life. So, when data requests do inevitably roll in, it pays to make sure you’re ready to handle them in the best way possible.

This means deploying a stellar user experience and an effective strategy to salvage everything you can from the end of communications.


Follow these 7 tips for unsubscribe best practice to ensure you’re minimizing the impact of each and every unsubscribe request.


Be human

In recent years, certain companies have been gaining a lot of respect and positive attention for putting a little thought into the emotional impact of the seasonal campaigns that they run.

A great example comes in the form of British flower delivery service, Bloom & Wild. Knowing that Mothers Day email shots had the potential to take the wind out of some readers’ sails, they proactively offered the chance to opt out of these particular campaigns.

Not only does this allow the caring, human side of a business to shine, you’re also side-stepping the likelihood of an impulsive unsubscribe as the result of an upsetting sentiment. An additional bonus: the opportunity for better segmentation of your lists in future.


Give them other options

When people are asking to opt out, in addition to giving them means to do so, there’s no harm in gently suggesting an alternative “opt down.” By giving people options to update their preferences, reduce the number of emails they receive, or select only the specific topics that interest them, you have the chance to win twice.

On one hand, you’re snatching back a contact that was teetering on the brink of being lost. On the other, again, you’re refining the information you have to be able to leverage better future personalization.

The upshot of this? Lists are not only sustained, and have the potential to be refined and improved. 


Make it easy to leave

Sometimes, when it’s time, it’s time. If your subscriber has their heart set on leaving your list, be classy in defeat. It’s important that you make the whole process as quick and efficient as possible.

This means that the method of initiating an unsubscribe request should be obvious. Don’t bury links in your email templates – keep things clear. Ideally, a person should be able to fully remove themselves from future communications in two clicks or less.

Remember, if someone has decided to leave your list, there is probably a degree of negative sentiment being held for your brand within that moment. Don’t compound the issue by deliberately frustrating their attempts to walk away.


Learn from the experience

We’ll say it again – list churn is a fact of life. While it's painful to see hard won leads slip away, there are a myriad of reasons why you might be losing a reader. The smartest email marketers will make sure that, at the very least, they’re learning from the experience.

Take the incentive to pose a few (optional) questions for your unsubscribers. Why exactly are they leaving? Was it a case of too many emails, poor quality content, a particular campaign that they disliked?

Remember, it's one thing to collect this data. It’s another to actually leverage it to avoid future issues. Schedule some time for regular review of the information you gain in this way, and put it to good use in future strategy.


Use a confirmation page

When you’re welcoming new subscribers to your list, you’re in the honeymoon phase! It’s easy at that point in the game to request a double opt-in (and you’ll probably want to, if you’re looking for quality over quantity in your lists.)

However, at the end of the affair, tread carefully. If someone is asking you to stop sending them emails, it's not a great look to inform them that you will honor the request by… sending another email.

Instead, leverage a well-considered confirmation page, thanking and assuring them that their request has been acknowledged. This means you can still maintain some degree of branding when it comes to the “closure” that is given.


Pay attention to your copywriting

This brings us neatly on to our next tip: take care to ensure your brand’s tone of voice is coming across loud and clear throughout the unsubscription process. 

Why is this so important? You don’t want to be burning any bridges at this stage. People unsubscribe for a wide variety of reasons, and all may not be lost. So keep things respectful, consistent and on-brand. You could even inject a little humour into proceedings, as Groupon do. Get this right and who knows, you might even retain a few subscribers.

8 Great Unsubscribe Pages That Will Make You Love Email Again

Make sure your writing is clear. When signposting the route to unsubscription, you’ll do yourself no favours by hiding the links behind misleading terms – keep things unambiguous.


Keep it compliant

Finally, remember that you have a legal obligation to handle these data requests in a compliant manner. From GDPR and CalOPPA, through to CAN-SPAM and CASL, your subscribers will be protected by a wide range of regulations that enshrine their right to be removed from all future communications.

You must make reference to email marketing in your privacy policy. Some of the clauses where you'll mention email marketing include:

  • The data that you collect
  • The method of that data collection
  • Cookies and automatic data collection methods
  • Distinct email marketing sections (i.e. regarding opting-out and unsubscribing)

If you’d like the reassurance of comprehensive compliance when it comes to getting this right, Enzuzo can help, offering 1-click data deletion and unsubscribe functionality, and privacy policy pages that automatically update as new privacy laws come into effect.


Give your subscribers a good send off

Action the 7 tips for email unsubscribe best practice listed above, and we’re confident you’ll be making the absolute most of your marketing lists - in terms of preservation, improved segmentation and continued compliance with the stringent laws they’re held to.

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Cat Hunter