Our blog

The Right Way to Unsubscribe for Email Marketers

Kelly Sutter

2016-10-05Unsubscribing is something email marketers want to avoid at all costs—but with our busy digital lives, it’s going to happen. Since unsubscribing is a part of email marketing, why not look at the bright side? The unsubscribe process is the perfect time to show your subscribers that you value their needs.

To do the unsubscribe process the right way, it helps to understand why people are unsubscribing in the first place. We’ve gone over some of the reasons people unsubscribe in our post, Why Subscribers Unsubscribe. After you make sure you are managing email frequency and sending relevant and well-designed emails to meet subscriber expectations, take time to optimize your unsubscribe link and unsubscribe landing page. Following the best practices below will show your customers that you respect their time and needs.


Best practices for the
Unsubscribe link in your email

Every bulk marketing email must include an unsubscribe link. This is the law in the United States (CAN-SPAM Act) and in Canada (CASL). You can read more about the requirements by visiting the sites for both laws. These laws provide an outline for email best practices since bulk email marketing began. Fortunately most email marketers include an unsubscribe link in the email. However, we occasionally see poorly executed ones.

Follow these four unsubscribe link best practices:

1. Be clear and conspicuous.

Subscribers should not have to download images to click the unsubscribe button. The link should be easily found, typically in the header or footer of the email.

2. Use commonly understood terms.

Use ‘unsubscribe’ or ‘opt out’ for the unsubscribe link. Don’t bury the unsubscribe link in a long sentence.

3. Design for readability.

The unsubscribe link should be no more than 2 pixels smaller than the body copy and should not be smaller than 8px font. Keep away from low contrast type against a similar background. Links should always be highlighted or underlined to distinguish them from other text.

4. Allow for global opt-out in every email.

Provide an easy mechanism to globally opt-out from all mail.

Example of clear unsubscribe link in email footer


Unsubscribe links in WordFly

In WordFly, you have two options for your unsubscribe settings: One-step unsubscribe is a global opt-out; Two-step unsubscribe redirects the subscriber to a landing page to globally opt-out or update preferences. Before you send a campaign, we’ll also check to make sure every email has an unsubscribe link. If the link isn’t there, we will flag it in the Testing > Full Review section of your email campaign.


Best practices for your
Unsubscribe landing page

Clicking unsubscribe should lead to one straightforward outcome: being unsubscribed from emails! A subscriber should either be led to a confirmation page indicating their address has been removed or land on a secondary page where they can confirm their opt-out. It should be an easy and uncomplicated process that ends in success every time.

Follow these five unsubscribe landing page best practices:

1. Make sure the unsubscribe landing page matches your brand.

There should be no doubt to the subscriber who they are unsubscribing from when they reach this page. Customizing the unsubscribe landing page is an excellent way to reinforce your brand and also inform subscribers of what to do next.

2. Provide preferences.

Provide preferences on the unsubscribe page gives subscribers an alternative to opting-out completely by allowing a subscriber to modify their communication interests. Try it out with our two-step unsubscribe in WordFly.

3. Consider adding text for subscribers who might have accidentally unsubscribed.

Let them know how to re-subscribe or modify their preferences. You might even suggest they follow you on Facebook or Twitter if they don’t like receiving emails.

4. Never send an unsubscribe confirmation email.

This violates both the CAN-SPAM and CASL laws.

5. Remove unsubscribed addresses immediately or within 10 days.

It is the law to remove subscribers within 10 days. Subscribers also expect to be removed immediately.

Example of well-done unsubscribe landing page



Take away: Let them unsubscribe!

Follow best practices for the unsubscribe process and let subscribers unsubscribe when they feel it is time to move on. Remember the bright side: Your email campaigns will have higher engagement when you’re sending to addresses that always want to receive your emails.