Making the Most of the Unsubscribe Process

April 10, 2009
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A topic that seems to be buzzing around the email expert community  is the question of where to place the unsubscribe link in an email message. Loren McDonald recently published a MediaPost article about it, titled The Unsubscribe Link Location: Top, Bottom Or Both?  Mark Brownlow makes the argument for a more obvious unsubscribe in Time to Move the Unsubscribe Link? and over at the BrontoBlog, DJ Waldow and Kimberly Snyder comment on several examples of unsubscribes in a post titled, “Don’t Hide That Unsubscribe!

The general consenus among email opinion leaders intimates that the time has come to offer a highly visible unsubscribe link at the top of the message, especially in cases where the ”Report Spam” button is more likely to be used. Although some marketers fear making it “too easy” to unsubscribe will have a negative effect on list retention, this argument is easily debunked. If consumers wish to unsubscribe because they find your message lacking value, too frequent, or irrelevant, then you should want them off your list ASAP anyway.  

Consumers trying to find a way to keep your messages from reaching their inbox are looking for an easy, credible way to unsubscribe, or they

A topic that seems to be buzzing around the email expert community  is the question of where to place the unsubscribe link in an email message. Loren McDonald recently published a MediaPost article about it, titled The Unsubscribe Link Location: Top, Bottom Or Both?  Mark Brownlow makes the argument for a more obvious unsubscribe in Time to Move the Unsubscribe Link? and over at the BrontoBlog, DJ Waldow and Kimberly Snyder comment on several examples of unsubscribes in a post titled, “Don’t Hide That Unsubscribe!

The general consenus among email opinion leaders intimates that the time has come to offer a highly visible unsubscribe link at the top of the message, especially in cases where the ”Report Spam” button is more likely to be used. Although some marketers fear making it “too easy” to unsubscribe will have a negative effect on list retention, this argument is easily debunked. If consumers wish to unsubscribe because they find your message lacking value, too frequent, or irrelevant, then you should want them off your list ASAP anyway.  

Consumers trying to find a way to keep your messages from reaching their inbox are looking for an easy, credible way to unsubscribe, or they will most likely hit the “Spam” button. Past cases of suppression list abuse have established a lingering mistrust of unsubscribe links in the minds of consumers, so it’s crucial that you honor the opt-out immediately and also scrub your list once the unsubscribe takes place. Be simple and transparent with  your opt-out link; tell consumers exactly what they can expect when they click UNSUBSCRIBE.

Traditionally, unsubscribe links appear in the footers of messages, somewhere tangled amidst lengthy legal disclaimers in mouseprint. Although these can be difficult to locate, many consumers are trained to scroll to the bottom of the message to unsubscribe nonetheless. According to BrontoBlog’s poll, 85% of voters still locate their unsubscribe message at the bottom of the message. Therefore, if you decide to experiment with adding an unsubscribe link to the beginning of a message, consider also retaining the link at the bottom of the message. 

In addition, add a preference page which gives the consumer the option to opt out of certain offers or to change the frequency at which they receive messages. This is a great way to engage customers in deciding which campaigns they find value in. However, don’t mistake the idea of a preference center as a replacement for an unsubscribe landing page. An attempt to mask a true opt-out link with a bunch of ways to not opt-out will only cause mistrust in the mind of the consumer. Provide options, but comply with the CAN-SPAM Act by keeping a simple, working opt-out link that leads directly to a single ‘unsubscribe me now’ landing page.

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