Why it’s important to utilise the unsubscribe

Putting time and energy into your email marketing campaign’s ‘unsubscribe’ function can feel counter-productive, but it is important to get it right.

It goes without saying that you want to contact as many people as possible with your promotional items; however, you are unlikely to gain many new sales by upsetting those recipients who sincerely do not want to receive emails. Quite the opposite, you will be dragging your reputation down, as the person who is unhappy about your messages may tell their friends about their negative experience.

Why invite unsubscribers?

It is perhaps a little misleading to say ‘invite’, since this suggests you are actively seeking to remove subscribers, but there is an element of this involved. Some people who end up on your email marketing lists may not be interested in what you have to say for whatever reason – they might have misunderstood what your firm did when they signed up or their address could have been added in error.

No matter what the reason is for wanting to leave the list, it is much better for them to go happily than angrily, so make it easy for them and keep them onside. On a basic level this is just because your brand image is likely to suffer less, but on a more technical it prevents the alternative: being reported as spam.

This questions the validity of your content in general among email service providers, potentially creating a real problem for future campaigns, as messages sent from your firm will be tarnished by the mistakes made in previous messages.

The unsubcribe process

The process of unsubscribing is one that differs from company to company, but the general gist is that there should be a link on each email that takes you to a webpage, on which the consumer should be able to unsubscribe within a few clicks. If you make it too difficult, people may just abandon it and report your email as spam instead, so do not play hard to get.

To really please those who want to opt-out, place the link prominently in the email, avoid the process being at all challenging, confirm the unsubscription straight away and – most importantly of all – test that the unsubscription request actually removes them from the list.

If a person checks the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office website regarding unwanted email, the advice offers a snapshot of how unsubscribes are treated: “If you receive marketing by email from an identifiable UK company that you do not want, you should first use the ‘unsubscribe’ link or email the organisation to ask them to stop … Tell the sender about the problem and allow them time to put things right.”

Customer satisfaction/sales realism

While the need to please the consumer and avoid being labelled spam are crucial, another reason to give unhappy subscribers an easy way out is simply that you need to be realistic about sales – somebody trying to get away is unlikely to be a receptive consumer.

You are much better placed overall if you keep unsubscribers happy by letting them leave easily, then revisit your campaign to see where you went wrong. There are plenty of questions you can ask your team in a bid to make future campaigns more effective: was segmentation done effectively? Was the ‘subscribe’ button mis-leading? Is the content good enough? Find the weak point and resolve it, so people will not want to unsubscribe next time around.