Email marketing remains an essential component of all demand generation programs. For many companies the focus is on maintaining as large a list as possible to reach the highest number of potential customers. With so much importance placed on list size it is often seen as a negative when there’s an unsubscribe from your list. This would seem logical, someone opting to not receive any further communications from your business is a bad thing. Except when it is not.


The first priority for any email marketing campaign, whether it be a weekly newsletter to established customers or a promotional campaign to entice new customers, is to ensure that your emails reach as many inboxes as possible.

Having your emails marked as spam is a major impediment to achieving high deliverability.

Email clients take these unsubscribes very seriously when calculating whether emails from your business are in fact spam and can lead to your emails being blocked from reaching anyone on your list using the same client.
Modern email clients, such as Gmail and Outlook, all make marking an email as spam (or junk) very easy for users. In the case of Gmail the ‘Mark as Spam’ button is extremely prominent and usually easier than clicking on the unsubscribe link in an email. Everyone is pressed for time and when people decide they no longer want to receive email from a particular company they choose the easiest, and quickest, option. This is why the process to unsubscribe from your mailing lists should be as transparent and as simple as possible.

Best Practices for Email Marketing Unsubscribe Options

An unsubscribe link should be placed both at the top and the bottom of your emails. Clicking on the link should lead directly to a page confirming the unsubscribe. It is tempting to have the page request that the user confirms whether they want to really unsubscribe, nonetheless this is unadvisable.
Any actions required beyond clicking on the unsubscribe link simply serve to annoy people. Particularly with so many emails being read on mobile devices where having to open a page in a web browser and then entering extra information being a tedious process.
If you have multiple emails going out each week, such as for different products or services, the confirmation page could include the option to change subscription options. Allowing your subscribers to choose what communications they receive from you, and how frequently, will lead to less people opting out completely.

Collect Feedback

One very useful practice is to include a simple questionnaire on the confirmation page, asking why this person decided to unsubscribe. Use this knowledge to identify patterns of behavior which allow you to improve the targeting and messaging of your email campaigns. Maybe you see that you have been sending too many emails, or that the people on your list do not find the news or specials you offer to be relevant.

Focusing on the big picture

Losing a subscriber hurts. For email marketers it is a personal rejection of the hard work we put into creating engaging content and one less potential customer; but deliverability is king. Fighting to keep people who decide to unsubscribe runs the very high risk of damaging your ability to speak directly to your other subscribers. By focusing on the overall health of your mailing list, and taking action to ensure that the maximum number of emails hit your subscribers’ inboxes, will result in better results.