When I first started my career in email marketing the unsubscribe process was very simple. The subscriber simply had to reply to the sender with the word “unsubscribe” in the subject line and that was it – job done!

Nowadays however, many companies choose to complicate the opt-out process, leading to frustration and customer dissatisfaction.

I have witnessed this first-hand when I was asked to remember the username and password from an account I opened years previously in order to unsubscribe. I could not remember the details and therefore had to stay on the mailing list unwillingly. I wonder how many other customers had this bad experience?

Many companies make it frustratingly difficult for customers to unsubscribe from their email lists

So what can emailers do to improve things? Here is the best practice for handling unsubscribes:

  1. Give the customer a direct link to unsubscribe in every email

  2. Don’t ask your recipients for a password or login information to be unsubscribed. It’s unrealistic to expect users to remember the details they used to sign up, especially on old accounts which may have laid dormant for some time.

  3. Allow people to unsubscribe by replying: Even if you clearly state that you don’t monitor the ‘reply to’ address, some customers will still use it! Be sure to check the inbox regularly to deal with any messages received.

  4. Make it simple: While having a variety of choices is important, be sure to also offer a universal opt-out option. Customers who think the unsubscribe function didn’t work will use the spam button instead.

  5. Put it in the footer: Customers often have to hunt around to find an opt-out link but hiding it doesn’t keep good customers on your list, it just leads to frustrated complainers. You want the unsubscribe link to be just as easy to find as the “this is spam” button. Use words and placements that your audience will be familiar with and include unsubscribe links in a number of prominent locations.

  6. Be honest with subscribers: Don’t try to push other offers to customers while they’re usubscribing. Keep it simple – put alternate offers on the side or under the main unsubscribe link, or on the confirmation page.

As well as continuing our series of articles on email marketing best practice, we will also shortly be publishing an invaluable white-paper on improving email marketing deliverability with one of our partner companies, so stay tuned. You can get more advice from our email marketing experts here in the email marketing section of this blog.

Want to optimise your email campaigns and produce better results? Our award-winning eCRM team can help. Telephone +44 (0) 20 33 55 4334 or email enquiry [at] azam.net.