5 Email Unsubscribe Best Practices

“You cannot please all of the people all of the time”.

Very few email marketers can say, they have never had an email recipient unsubscribe from their marketing emails. It is a fact of life that from time to time, your customers will choose to unsubscribe from your emails.

So the question is, how should you handle the unsubscribe process when your customers want out? Here are a few unsubscribe best practices to help you make the best of a bad situation.

1) Don’t hold your subscribers hostage

If someone wants to unsubscribe, just let them unsubscribe. There is little to be made of complicating the process to try and stop your customers from leaving your email list. This may just result in them marking your emails as spam and make them frustrated with your brand.

A particularly frustrating unsubscribe tactic is when email recipients are asked to ‘login to update preferences’. Quite often customers cannot remember their login details, because they are not very engaged with the company in question, hence why they are unsubscribing. I would imagine, this is the cause of many emails being marked as spam.

2) Allow subscribers to update their preferences

Forcing subscribers to ‘login’ to a preference centre may be a big no no, but preference centres themselves are a great way to avoid an unsubscribe. There are few better examples of this than Fab’s preference centre. Fab allow you to fine tune the email content, frequency and delivery day. So if you only want to receive emails about Fashion on Fridays, Fab can sort that for you.

3) Say goodbye on Good terms

Fab along with other daily deal websites such as Groupon, send LOTS of emails. Far too many for some people (me included), which may explain why both these companies offer rather innovative unsubscribe pages. Whilst Fab focus on customers preferences, Groupon went for a touch of comedy on their unsubscribe page.

This is an effective way of turning the negative of the unsubscribe into a positive experience for the customer and should endear them to the brand. This may even result in customers deciding not to unsubscribe after all. Nice!

Even if the customer still decides to unsubscribe, at least they will have a positive final experience with the brand, so you haven’t burned your bridges altogether. Be careful not to make your unsubscribe page too fun though, as you don’t want to encourage your customers to use it!

Take a look at what happens to poor old Derrick if you unsubscribed to Groupon’s marketing emails!

4) Try to get some feedback

You can learn just as much from what you are doing wrong, as from what you are doing right.

Keep the feedback form simple and easy to fill in, just some multiple choice options would do and a text box, in case the unsubscriber is feeling generous with their feedback.

5) Try to change their mind

Be careful with this one. Your last ditch attempt to keep your customer should not act as an obstacle, but should present itself as a tempting alternative to unsubscribing.

For certain companies, the offer of a free whitepaper would be an appropriate incentive for staying subscribed. For other companies the use of humour can prove very effective.

Charity Water use humour to great effect on their unsubscribe page. They make the potential unsubscriber one “final offer”. They give the customer the option to either continue to unsubscribe or alternatively watch a video of staff getting revenge on the company CEO for all the late nights he has made them work.

I would love to see the figures on how many people this deterred from unsubscribing. I bet it was a fair bit!

Whilst this post has discussed what to do if one of your customers decides to unsubscribe, I feel it is far more useful to focus  on keeping your subscribers happy in the first place.