Email Unsubscribe Best Practices

Email Unsubscribe Best Practices
Email Unsubscribe Best Practices

When it comes to email unsubscribe best practices, the stakes couldn’t be higher. On one end of the opportunity spectrum, we have the chance to retain a valuable subscriber. At the other extreme, we have the potential of a SPAM complaint to our ISP or worse yet, action by the FTC CAN-SPAM police. Do you know what’s the number one reason people unsubscribe from email lists? Turns out it’s not because you’re sending irrelevant content. Like many other aspects in marketing, it’s all about frequency.

Email Unsubscribe Best Practices
Email Unsubscribe Best Practices

According to Blue Hornet,

“35.4% of consumers reported frequency as the primary reason for unsubscribing from a brand’s email in 2013.”

How we as marketers handle the email unsubscribe process is much like handling a breakup of a business or personal relationship. The key to success is to provide flexibility including the ability to update email preferences such as offering a digest delivery option or unsubscribing from certain types of emails or all emails. Sometimes the unsubscribe approach can save a subscriber in the best case and at the very least, avoid SPAM complaints that can devalue your domain and result in possible fines.

Email Unsubscribe Best Practices Infographic

The following Unsubscribe Best Practices Infographic from the Email Monks has some great information and advice that is applicable to every  email marketer and their subscribers. It provides examples of how to maximize the value to all parties in your email marketing programs.

To view a large, full resolution, interactive infographic, simply click on the graphic below and enjoy!

Source:Unsubscribe Best Practices Infographic

8 pitfalls enabling subscribers to walk away

You might undergo an email relationship crisis with your subscribers for any one or more of the following common reasons:

  • Poor email design or copy,
  • Excess or limited email frequency,
  • Sending emails without permission,
  • Irrelevant email content,
  • End of offer or sale,
  • Offensive or misleading subject line,
  • Lack of personalization,
  • Change of preference is related to email address, type of email, etc.

These pitfalls should be avoided to reduce the number of unsubscribes realized over time. There were always be unsubscribes, so the next things to consider are how to handle unsubscribes as they occur. To that end, here are 16 email unsubscribe best practices that can be applied to create opportunities while minimizing risks.

Best practices to save your email relationship crisis

  1. All except transactional email should include an opt-out option.
  2. There should be one click unsubscribe without requirement a password according to the CAN SPAM act.
  3. If a feedback form has to be filled, pre-populate the email address or any other required information that you already have.
  4. Enlist the present communication preferences of the subscriber.
  5. Thank you confirm unsubscribe immediately. Preferably, don’t send a follow up email. If you unsubscribe in a certain time frame, mention it clearly and make sure the opt-out requests are handled in not more than 10 business days.
  6. Provide a link / phone number to reach out if there is an issue with the unsubscribe.
  7. Clearly provide an option to “UNSUBSCRIBE,” don’t twist the message.
  8. Sit and talk to make a relationship work. Include options to change email, change format, change frequency, change personal preference, etc. in the preference center. If you’re collecting feedback, make sure the same is easy to pick with multiple choice options.
  9. Don’t automatically unsubscribe without any message. Also don’t read subscribe want you promised an unsubscribe.
  10. For high frequency email programs like daily newsletters, provides the subscribers with the option to receive a digest version on your unsubscribe page so that you can provide “the best of” or a “weekly highlight” version and keep subscribers on your file.
  11. Allow subscribers to take a break, let them pause receiving emails.
  12. Including “unsubscribe from all” if you send multiple types of emails to recipients.
  13. Provide the opportunity to resubscribe and showcase alternate channels like social media platforms and mobile (SMS) to keep in touch.
  14. Show a larger than life future sneak peek before parting ways might add some life to your list.
  15. Using the video and images to save the relationship via email or on the landing page works well too.
  16. Add humor and real-time personalization to the unsubscribe landing page.

Remember, according to the 2013 Blue Hornet Consumer View Email Report, 47% of respondents said that if they were presented with the option to “opt-down” during the unsubscribe process, they would have considered it.

Follow these email unsubscribe best practices to maximize the return on your email marketing investments while fostering email relationships that are like a match made in heaven.

Need Help with your Email Unsubscribe Strategy?

Contact us today to learn how we can assist with you with developing an email unsubscribe strategy.


Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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