More Effective E-mail Newsletters in Minutes

Your email newsletter is a great way to build community. As an entrepreneur, online business owner, or writer, you probably use your email newsletter to generate sales or excitement about your products. It takes hard work to build your email list, and you are probably paying attention to how quickly it grows, as well as how often people unsubscribe. The unsubscribe rate is important to you. Your list growth depends on people subscribing more often than they unsubscribe. Also, a high unsubscribe rate can start making your list look like spam to the email service providers.

Since it is so important for you to keep the unsubscribe rate down, it can be really tempting to make it hard for people to unsubscribe. You may have noticed newsletters that make the unsubscribe link really hard to find, or when you click on it you have to fill out a survey or go through multiple pages to actually unsubscribe.

The business case for making it easy to unsubscribe

It seems unintuitive, but making it easier for your audience to unsubscribe from your newsletter is great for your business. It can help create loyalty, improve word of mouth, and help your business. And it is easy to do so; it will likely take you only a few minutes! How is it possible that the people who want to unsubscribe can help your business?

People may unsubscribe from your fantastic and useful newsletter for a variety of reasons. It may be because they are not your target audience. Maybe they don’t want your service right now, but circumstances may change. In these cases, you want them to have a positive experience when they unsubscribe. They could recommend you to a friend who is in the target audience. They may be in the market in the future for your type of service, and you want them to remember you positively.

You don’t want those people to have a bad taste in their mouth after unsubscribing. It can be a really frustrating experience to have to search for an unsubscribe link. It is not a great user experience to have to go through multiple pages in order to unsubscribe.

Let’s assume about 1% of your email list will “convert” to buyers. Let’s guess that a similar number will unsubscribe: about 1% (not per campaign, but total of people who ever subscribed). You put so much effort into getting that 1% to convert, you can probably spend a few minutes creating good karma with the 1% who leave. You don’t know what the benefit will be. Unsubscribers may only result in 1 or 2 referrals in total, and you will probably never have those metrics. Yet, it takes so little effort on your part to set up a positive unsubscribe experience that it is worth it. While the benefit is unknown, the cost is really pretty small.

The two-step solution that takes minutes

How can you spend a few minutes improving the unsubscribe experience? It’s probably just a matter of changing a few settings in your email newsletter services. Most email newsletter services require an unsubscribe link already (it’s required by several laws). You probably only need to go change the settings. You need to do two things, check the format of the unsubscribe link and check the unsubscribe page.

Check the format of the unsubscribe link. Unsubscribe links should look like a link, not look like plain text This may mean it is the same color as other links on your newsletter, and maybe it should be underlined.

Where possible, the unsubscribe page should be a simple confirmation that it worked. Do not ask users to click multiple times to unsubscribe. Check that you aren’t sending them to a form asking them why they are leaving. That’s helpful to you, but it doesn’t help them. Unless you absolutely act on this, remove that form. If you have a number of campaigns, make sure you include an option to unsubscribe from all. Don’t make someone click 10 toggles just to unsubscribe from your lists. Also, be careful of cookie banners on your unsubscribe page. It’s not a great experience to have to toggle through a cookie banner just to unsubscribe; consider not using cookies on this page.


Here are some links to popular email newsletter services’ documentation on how to change the unsubscribe setting.





About the author 


Dr. Rebecca Balebako is a certified privacy professional (CIPP/E, CIPT, Fellow of Information Privacy) who helped multiple organizations improve their privacy through research, analysis, and engineering. 

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