The unsubscribe process you use for your email list might not be the most scintillating topic for conversation, especially if you believe a certain number of people are always going to fall off your list, no matter what you do.

But that’s not necessarily so. I’m not recommending that you con people into staying on your list—not in the least—but there are honest ways to retain subscribers even after they’ve clicked the “unsubscribe” link.

Even if you do lose them, there are other tactics that would let them leave with a more positive impression of your brand. And still other tactics that could help you switch them from email over to a different channel. So when your subscribers say “goodbye,” it doesn’t have to mean forever.

1. Don’t hide the unsubscribe link—and certainly don’t skip it altogether

This best practice is more about not alienating your subscribers than anything else. If people want to unsubscribe, don’t make it hard for them. Irritating them on this topic might inspire them to mark your next email as spam, and that would be a shame. Include an easy-to-find unsubscribe link in the footer of every single email you send to your list. This isn’t just good etiquette—it’s the law (the CAN-SPAM law).

Make it highly visible. This one has an unsubscribe link, but it’s not easy to find when you’re scanning through the text fast:

Even worse, people—even marketers at big companies—inexplicably sometimes send emails with no unsubscribe link—and no footer links at all. (Examples not shown, to protect the guilty.)

Want extra credit? Put another unsubscribe link in the header area of your email:

2. Don’t make people log in to unsubscribe

I had unsubscribed from nearly one hundred emails before I finally found an example of this. That’s good because it’s really annoying when companies make you log in to unsubscribe from emails. Personally, this is one of the few situations where I will mark an email as spam.

Of course, at the beginning of the process, it all looks normal. Like (X) has done here in the footer of one of their emails:

But if you click that “go here” link, you’re brought here:

To the main page of their blog.

Huh? I presume I have to log into my account to get out of these emails. So I try that, but my login information is rejected. Instead of going through the dance to get my password (via email, of course), I decided to just mark the message as spam. Sorry, (X).


3. Offer a chance to “opt-down” rather than to just opt out

People want to be able to control how often they hear from you. So let them. I especially like to see a note in the footer that tells people they can get fewer emails if they want. Something like this:

But that doesn’t happen very often. An “update your preferences” link that goes to a page like this is the next best thing.


4. Include prompts to follow you on social media on the final unsubscribe page

Just about nobody does this, and I don’t understand why not. Most of us unsubscribe to clear out our inboxes. It’s rarely because we’ve come to hate the brand (or the messenger). Offering a way to stay in touch with your company, but just with a lighter touch—would be welcome.

Here’s one of the only examples of this I could find.


Not even Kim Garst (Founder and CEO of Boom! Social) is asking people to switch to following her on social after they’ve unsubscribed. And Kim is definitely one of the most gifted social media marketers around.

This is a super-easy technique for retaining subscribers and growing your social media following. Just add a few social media follow icons to the final unsubscribe page!


5. Don’t send an email confirmation of the unsubscribe action

This is another faux pas (and a fairly minor one, at that) I used to see all the time. But while doing my inbox sweep this time, I only got one unsubscribe confirmation email. Alas, it pains me to report they didn’t ask me to follow them on social. But they did at least give me an opportunity to re-subscribe, just in case I had made a mistake.


6. Everybody likes one-click unsubscribes

This is another example of the tip to make it easy for people to unsubscribe. Here’s what the email footer looks like:

That is a tactic I saw a lot while I was doing these unsubscribes—more than a third of the company emails I unsubscribed from gave me an immediate way to re-subscribe. Does anyone use that feature? Can anyone tell me if they’ve done a test with that “Oops! let’s re-subscribe you” option—and it worked? I’d love to know.

When you click the unsubscribe link—boom—you’re brought to the unsubscribe confirmation page.

Read part 2

This article was written by Pam Neely from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *