5 Keys to Effective Unsubscribe Landing Pages

Let’s KISS. Now hang on … KISS isn’t only a romantic action, but for you as a marketer, knowing how to “Keep It Short and Simple” will help you maintain your email lists.

Email envelopesLet’s KISS.

You heard that right.

OK, you hear it from your significant other on a hopefully regular basis, but “Let’s KISS” can mean so much more.

Take your use of email subscriptions, or rather, your email unsubscribes. KISS isn’t only a romantic action, but for you as an email, product or service, or direct response marketer, knowing how to “Keep It Short and Simple” will help you maintain your email lists.

Why Do People Unsubscribe?

Email recipients generally cite several reasons for unsubscribing. These include:

  • They’re no longer interested in your products or services.
  • They’re receiving way too many emails.
  • They’re not interested in your content.

Create a Branded Landing Page

Ordinarily, your emails carry with them an unsubscribe link at the bottom. Subscribers just click on the link and they’re unsubscribed. Simple, right?

Why not create a meaningful branded landing page instead. You can actually retain more subscribers.

There are lots of ways to keep it simple and short when it comes to an unsubscribe landing page. Here are five keys to an effective landing page:

1. Set Up Preferences

Consider the use of preferences centers for email frequency, as well as the type of content to give subscribers a choice. This can be something like:

Marketer: “Hi there, do you really want to leave us?”
Subscriber: “Well, no, I’ll give you another chance.” This is making them have second thoughts.
Marketer: “Awesome! We thrilled you’ve decided to stay!”

You then provide them with the frequency of emails: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly.

Jetsetter email
Jetsetter uses a grid to highlight email frequency.

Let subscribers select what types of emails they’d like to receive: sales, e-newsletters, company news, infographics.

J. Crew preference center
J. Crew gives the option of type of clothing.

Finally, let them update their email addresses if they wish. Make everything easy and obvious.

2. Make Your Unsubscribe Button Really Obvious

Many times, companies place their unsubscribe as a tiny link at the bottom of the email. Don’t let your subscribers have to search for that teeny weeny link. Provide them with a stand-out unsubscribe button that takes them to a substantial landing page, which might just make them change their minds.

Vidyard unsubscribe link
Vidyard makes its unsubscribe link easy to find.

Unsubscribing Should Mean Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

It strikes me that many companies seem to be out of compliance with the CAN-SPAM laws and don’t make it easy to even find the unsubscribe link. And, when I finally locate it and click on it, I’m often presented with a survey — and one that you can’t ignore.

If you’re working at the speed of light (and who isn’t, these days?), chances are you’ve opted in to a company’s email list (either on purpose or automatically when you made an online purchase).

I honestly don’t recall opting-in to many of the company emails I receive, but since I usually just smack the “delete” button, I don’t give it much thought — until I try to opt out.

It strikes me that many companies seem to be out of compliance with the CAN-SPAM laws and don’t make it easy to even find the unsubscribe link. And, when I finally locate it and click on it, I’m often presented with a survey — and one that you can’t ignore. Because I just want to be done with it, I often fill out the “why are you leaving?” field with garbage keystrokes (do you think they find that helpful feedback?).

The companies that annoy me the most are those that appear to have multiple email opt-in streams — and for some reason, somebody decided I should be opted into to all of them:

  • Daily emails with info that’s hot off the press
  • Weekly recap of the daily emails so I can peruse what I may have missed
  • Monthly emails that highlight key opportunities
  • Quarterly emails that feature the most popular content/sale items

Are you kidding me?

Recently, the landing page made me add my email address and “submit” to each one of these options in order to be unsubscribed. And yet I keep getting their emails two weeks later!

Building and keeping relationships with your customers and prospects is a vital part of the nurturing process. But when someone wants to leave your opt-in list, the last think you should do is lock the door and refuse to let them out unless they meet all of your demands.

Instead of leaving with a warm and fuzzy “It’s okay … I may still come back and peruse your products and buy something when I’m ready” feeling, I’m leaving with the snarly “I wouldn’t buy anything else from you if you were the last vendor on earth!” attitude.

Whether you’re forced to provide an unsubscribe link because of compliance, or whether you do it because you understand the real value in database marketing, I’m begging you to let your customers and prospects leave on good terms. After all, you should be hoping that it’s a temporary break up — and not that bitter, “you’ll never see your kids again!” divorce.

‘Forgotten’ Unsubscribes – Is This a New Trend?

With Black Friday now behind me, I ran a quick count and found 131 emails sent by retailers with whom I had unsubscribed. I was more than a little surprised to have received this many emails and wondered: Are these retailers counting on me having forgotten I had unsubscribed? Is this a new trend?

With Black Friday now behind me, I ran a quick count and found 131 emails sent by retailers with whom I had unsubscribed. I was more than a little surprised to have received this many emails and wondered: Are these retailers counting on me having forgotten I had unsubscribed? Is this a new trend?

The CAN-SPAM Act is very clear on the issue of how businesses should present and handle unsubscribes. It reads in part, you cannot charge a fee, require the recipient to give any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on a website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request.” In other words, it should be easy and it should be permanent. The retailers who have sent me an email in the last few days have done far more damage than good – though I admit, my diligence in tracking unsubscribes goes well beyond that of the typical subscriber—most people probably do forget having unsubscribed.

I’ve divided my 131 Black Friday marketing emails into three categories (remember, these are not business correspondence messages or transactional messages, for which opt-out rules differ in the US, as well as Canada and the EU):

  1. Retailers with whom I had done business, but not subscribed (permitted to send transactional messages only).
  2. Retailers with whom I had done business, subscribed, and later unsubscribed (permitted to send transactional and marketing messages until revoked).
  3. New retailers with whom I had concluded business and explicitly opted out of marketing messages at the time of transaction (permitted to send transactional message only).

Of these emails:

  • 6 provided no unsubscribe link or information (which is allowed by the CAN-SPAM Act, if they are using the reply-to process for unsubscribing)
  • 26 provided an unsubscribe link requiring me to visit a web page to set my preferences
  • 19 provided both an unsubscribe link and a preferences link

Past Relationships
So let’s take a look at these vendors’ approaches and assess the value of each:

Several years ago I bought hosting services from Glob@t. On the 28th and again today, I received emails from this vendor. I unsubscribed from their messages just once when our relationship ended, and yet Black Friday seemed to have provided the perfect opportunity—as deemed by their marketing department – to reactivate an unsubscribed name and send a message.

In this case their message actually did exactly as they hoped: I became re-engaged. Of course, they had no idea, but yesterday I spent three hours on a tech-support call with my current vendor, and had decided to start shopping hosting vendors. Glob@t’s email came at an opportune time, but that’s not to say I wasn’t annoyed by it—I certainly was. Nonetheless, I clicked the link to check out their hosting packages, and after checking pricing, I returned to the email to unsubscribe. I will monitor their messages to ensure I remain unsubscribed this time around.

New Relationships
Three weeks ago I made a purchase from eBay of a hard-to-find item, which launched an onslaught of emails. I have received one or more every day since the date of purchase and in each I have clicked the unsubscribe link. Their unsubscribe text at the bottom of those emails reads in part,

Learn more to protect yourself from spoof (fake) e-mails.

eBay Inc. sent this e-mail to you at [myemailaddress] because your Notification Preferences indicate that you want to receive general email promotions.

If you do not wish to receive further communications like this, please click here to unsubscribe. Alternatively, you can change your Notification Preferences in My eBay by clicking here. Please note that it may take up to 10 days to process your request.

What I find interesting about their unsubscribe text is the presentation. By starting out with a “learn more about spoofing” link, they have attempted to befriend me by offering tips on protecting myself. They are my concerned about me—or so it would seem.

Next they offer to unsubscribe me by clicking the link and when I do click it, I receive an unsubscribe confirmation and information on how to re-subscribe should I wish to.

Their unsubscribe text does let me know it may take up to ten days to process my request, but I have to wonder: Why is this? Every company using an email-automation system knows unsubscribes are immediate. What’s up with the ten-day delay? My guess is they hope within the next ten days they will be able to send me an email that will re-engage me. (Terrible idea.)

After more than ten days of continuing to receive one or more emails every day, I clicked the set my preferences link, which requires—you guessed it—a log in. The purchase I made was completed as a guest. I did not wish then, nor do I wish now, to create an account with them. I’ve had one cause (ever) to make a purchase from them, and didn’t see it happening again. If it did, I could make a decision at that time about whether or not an account would be necessary. This too is an annoying approach: require the user to create an account to unsubscribe. (Terrible idea number two.)

After two weeks of emails, I’m now so irritated by their entire process it will adversely affect my decision to ever buy from them again, even if the item I am seeking is less expensive, more available, or even exclusively available. I will remember their lack of respect for my wishes and it will deter me. I guess they’re not as friendly as they first seemed.

As marketers, staying engaged with your constituents is more than betting on their short-term memory loss. It’s about honoring the relationship and their wishes. I remembered Glob@t and would have come back to their site when my vendor shopping began, but knowing they do not honor my unsubscribe status has tainted my view of their business practices. My purchase from eBay was exactly the right product, delivered on time, and in great condition. My positive experience would have led me back to them at some point in the future, but their emailing practices have put them on my own do-not-call list. If the new trend is to make a brand more memorable by being annoying, I opt out.

Are Autoresponders Killing Email Marketing?

Two events in the same week have triggered an email unsubscribe flurry on my behalf. First, a change in my spam provider is permitting more unwanted emails than usual to leak through. And second, a conversation with a long-time colleague and regular reader of my blog, where she wondered if marketing automation software is being abused to a point where we’re drowning

Two events in the same week have triggered an email unsubscribe flurry on my behalf. First, a change in my spam provider is permitting more unwanted emails than usual to leak through. And second, a conversation with a long-time colleague and regular reader of my blog, where she wondered if marketing automation software is being abused to a point where we’re drowning in email and ignoring it more than before.

A smart strategy used by many direct marketers is the invitation to opt-in for emails. Often there is a carrot dangled in front of prospects to opt-in, such as a few dollars off an order, a free report, the promise of being the first to be informed, or because they’ve made a purchase transaction. Of course, legit direct marketers always assure privacy and provide a link in their emails to unsubscribe.

As an outcome of this strategy, marketing automation software companies report impressive stats about autoresponder welcome email performance:

  • The average open rate for welcome emails is a whopping 50 percent, making them significantly more effective than email newsletters.
  • Welcome messages typically have four times the open rate and five times the clickthrough rate of other bulk mailings.
  • Subscribers who receive a welcome email show more long-term engagement with a brand.

What these stats don’t reveal is the long-term effect after time of high frequency marketing automation software autoresponder emails.

Of course, opens, clicks and unsubscribe rates are good early warnings if you’re emailing too much. If your unsubscribe rate is 0.5 percent, according to various email deployment firms, you’re performance is great. Even 1 percent is good. Some email providers suggest industry unsubscribe norms are acceptable at 2 percent.

But I wonder how many of us have given up on the step to unsubscribe and simply delete. Is there a tipping point where enough is enough?

One day last week I made an inquiry for a direct mail list from the automated website of a mailing list organization. I gave them my email (a fair trade for quickly accessing counts). Obviously, the organization’s automated system knew I had run some counts. I didn’t order that day, but suggested to a client that they place an order. An hour later, an autoresponder asked if I needed help with my unfulfilled order.

Smart, I thought.

But then the next day, another autoresponder email arrived. While a bit annoyed with seeing still another email not even a full 24 hours later after I didn’t purchase, they presented me an offer of 15 percent off my order.

Smarter, I thought.

Until I realized that, had I ordered the day before, I would have paid full price (and would never have known because no doubt the marketing automation software would have placed me in a totally different sequence of follow-up messages). Such is a marketers’ challenge with autoresponders. Annoy me by sending them repeatedly, or too soon; surprise me with a 15 percent discount, but tick me off when I realize I could have paid more than needed had I ordered on the spot. Oh, and embarrass me when I contact the client to say “hold off on ordering!” And we wonder why shopping carts go abandoned. Marketers have trained people not to order on the spot because, if we wait, there may be a better deal.

Poor email content, little purpose and too high frequency of emails isn’t the fault of marketing automation software. It’s the fault of the marketers who are abusing a program that regularly, and systematically, automates the email marketing contact cycle.

What do you think? Too many email autoresponders? Poor email content and reason to email? Or are marketers sending email at what seems to be a reasonable pace?

Monitoring clicks, opens and unsubscribes reveals the true answer to these questions. But sometimes one wonders if the relatively inexpensive cost of email marketing is encouraging some marketers to abuse sending email, and that they’re not paying attention to their email marketing metrics.