How to Improve the Unsubscribe Process (Yes, This is Something to Think About)

How to Improve the Unsubscribe Process (Yes, This is Something to Think About)
Michele Linn - Tue Nov 17, 2009 @ 12:19AM
Comments: 15

UnsubscribeEven though winter is quickly approaching here in Michigan, I'm doing some spring cleaning . . . cleaning of my inbox, that is. I'm a naturally curious person, and I would love to spend my days reading, but it's simply not realistic. The first thing I decided to simplify was my email.

I recently was out of town for a few days, and I came back to a deluge of email. I found it oddly liberating to purge much of my email without even reading it (unless it was from a client or a friend, it went in the trash). And you know what? I didn't miss any of it.

Now, if I receive an email from a company or organization I rarely read, I am mercilessly unsubscribing.

You would think all companies would handle the unsubscribe process the same, but they don't. And this got me thinking. Even though I am unsubscribing from these emails doesn't mean that I don't like the company or even that I don't find the info to be valuable; personally, I just can't consume that much right now. This is likely the case with some of your subscribers as well.

So, even though the unsubscribe process shouldn't be a priority, you should give it some consideration as those who are unsubscribing could still be potential customers. Here are some things I think work well that you may be able to use in your unsubscribe process.

Make the unsubscribe process easy.
About 50% of the time I clicked on the unsubscribe link, I was taken to a page where it told me that I have been unsubscribed - great! Sometimes, my email was required. While this wasn't ideal, I can accept that. But, there are also times when I was asked to log in. In those cases, I left the page, thinking it would be easier for me to delete the emails (or set up a rule to send them directly to the trash) than find my login info. They kept me as a subscriber, for now, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Ask why I am unsubscribing. I'll (usually) tell you.
I would estimate that about a quarter of the times I unsubscribed I was asked why I was unsubscribing. Usually there were several choices to select, which I always did. Othertimes, there was a comment box where I could tell the company why I was unsubscribing. Unless I had affinity for the company, I rarely entered info when it was so open-ended. In short, ask subscribers why they no longer wish to receive your email and make it easy for them to respond.

Offer an option to receive emails less frequently.
A few of the companies offered me an option to receive emails less frequently. While I didn't always select this option, I did on a couple of occasions.

Give me another way to get information from you.
One of the companies offered me additional ways to stay in contact with them, giving me a link to their RSS feeds and catalog (this happened to be a retail company). I liked this approach because it realizes that, even though I am unsubscribing, I may still be interested in their services. Is there anything you can offer to your subscribers?

The bottom line: Even though someone has asked not to receive an email from you does not mean that you have lost them as a potential customer (or future subscriber). Aim to understand why people are unsubscribing and offer ways to stay in contact that may be easier for them to manage.

Do you have any other tips on what works well with the unsubscribe process?

Related posts:

Read more Savvy B2B posts from Michele.

Comments: 15


1. Dianna Huff  |  my website   |   Tue Nov 17, 2009 @ 12:43AM


I am going through the same exact process and am surprised at the number of ways companies handle the unsubscribe process.

My least favorite method is when the company says it will take 14 or more days to remove you from the list -- so during those 14 days, you're still getting their (spam) email.

I also like Constant Contact's way of letting you update your profile. I was using a Yahoo account for a while to collect newsletters but am now switching everything over to my gmail account. CC makes it very easy to update your email address.

2. Michele Linn  |  my website   |   Tue Nov 17, 2009 @ 12:58AM


I know: I was surprised how often I saw the "it will take 5 - 7 business days to remove you from the list." But, personally, this didn't bother me as much as unsubscribing and continuing to get emails. It made me wonder if the process was broken.

And thanks for the tip on Constant Contact. Is this what you use to send your newsletter, or can you also use it to manage the emails you recieve?

Thanks for stopping by!

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