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Why email unsubscribes matter

Author's avatar By Robert Allen 11 May, 2016
Essential Essential topic

Don't neglect your unsubscribing process

Getting your email unsubscribe process right is critical to your email marketing success. But, why? Surely concentrating your efforts on subscribers who have decided that they want to leave your list is time wasted. Wouldn't you be better off focusing your efforts on improving emails to those just entering the funnel, rather than those electing to drop out of it?

We've been taking a look at best practices for managing email unsubscribes in a new research report on the State of Email Unsubscribing 2016 which we have published with Alchemy Worx. It reports on how retailers are managing unsubscribes, and then goes on to recommend best practice as well as mistakes to avoid.

There are a number of  reasons why you need to get your unsubscribe process right, and it's not just about winning back customers. First of all consider these key points:

  • Unsubscribing isn't a failure or even a permanent state for your customers - people come and go.
  • If your unsubscribe process is poor you may be breaking data protection and privacy laws since keeping customers on an email list with then chosen to unsubscribe is illegal.
  • Customers who can't find an easy way to unsubscribe will mark your email as spam - thus decreasing your ability to reach other subscribers.
  • Subscribers frustrated by a difficult unsubscribe process will leave dissatisfied with the brand. Perhaps they just prefer to follow you on social media. This may affect their willingness to return and purchase again.

You should make your unsubscribe process as streamlined and easy to navigate as possible, and certainly avoid hiding away the unsubscribe button in the hope customers will not be able to find it.

Gain valuable feedback

The unsubscribe process is also a great opportunity to discover what you could be doing to decrease your churn rate, increase your open and click-through rate and generally make your email marketing more effective. The example below from House of Fraser shows how you can use your unsubscribe process to discover why people are unsubscribing from your mailing list.

email unsubscribe feedback

However, it is worth noting that all the reasons offered are negative. It may also be worth having a more neutral option like 'changing email address' or 'trying to declutter', so you get the most accurate picture of why people are unsubscribing. You also don't want to make the unsubscribe process too complicated, so it's best to have the survey after they've unsubscribed rather than making them complete it first. There are often rules regarding this kind of behaviour - for example, it's illegal in the US to make people enter a password in order to be able to unsubscribe.

If you're interested in finding out more about email unsubscribing best practices, then check out this new research report on the State of Email Unsubscribing 2016 we have published with Alchemy Worx. It reports on how retailers are managing unsubscribes, and then goes on to recommend best practice as well as mistakes to avoid.


Author's avatar

By Robert Allen

I was the Editor of Smart Insights between 2015-2017. I managed the blog and you will find blog articles on a range of subjects- Marketing Technology trends and latest tech developments are a regular focus, as well as exploring key marketing concepts. You can get in touch with me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. The new Editor is Carolanne Mangles.

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Managing Email Unsubcribing

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