Dec 2016

OTA’s email best practices for unsubscribing

The Online Trust Alliance has published its annual analysis report regarding email marketing along with their insights and guidance for enhancing the connection between businesses and customers. While OTA’s report offers valuable data that we strongly advise you to read entirely, the unsubscribe process and associated user experience have represented the core analysis and reporting for the last two years and this is going to be our focus too in this article. Below are some of the things we’ve found most interesting and useful for every marketer.

Visibility and readability

Create a visible opt-out button and don’t force the user to download images in order to identify the unsubscribe link. The link should be no more than 2 points smaller than the body copy of the email and no smaller than 8 point font. The font color should be readable with adequate contrast from the background, ideally in a different color and font family than the body copy.

Unsubscribe Header

All email should include the “unsubscribe header.” This allows ISPs and automated unsubscribe services to easily identify your opt-out mechanism and will help reduce user complaints because your recipients will be able to easily and reliably unsubscribe.

Easy to understand terms

Use terms like “unsubscribe” or “opt-out” and avoid terms like “Click here to Modify your Subscription Practices” as these tactics tend to undermine brand trust and integrity. Other subscription options like change email/physical address, reduce frequency or update profile can be included in the footer of an email. Ideally, each of them should have links to allow consumers to update their preferences.

Opt-Out of All Email

You should also provide an easy mechanism to opt-out of all email. If you have multiple email programs for your business, you must have an option to opt-out of all email as well as the individual email campaigns and programs.

Confirmation Web Page

Create an unsubscribe confirmation web page, thank subscribers for participating in your program and offer a (re)subscribe if they made a mistake. Do not send a confirmation email as it can be a violation of CANSPAM and you risk further alienating consumers. You can also provide them your social media channels to maintain a relationship with your brand.

Preference Centre and/or Opt-Out

Your subscribers should have the option to choose what type of messages to receive (e.g., newsletters vs. promotions vs. product information) and how often to receive them – daily, weekly, bi-monthly or monthly. Give them a link to a preference center to unsubscribe, opt-out or make other changes.

Optional Customer Feedback

Having this during the unsubscribe process allows you to refine your email marketing program to help prevent future opt-outs. A simple check box list can be used to determine why customers are unsubscribing and never send a follow-up email asking why they unsubscribed.

And finally, unsubscribes should be removed without delay. We know, no one likes to lose their subscribers but making this process too long will only cause you more problems in the end. The best you can do is learn and improve for the future.

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