Getting users to subscribe to your email newsletters is one of the top conversion goals for any type of website. Email newsletters are an enduring, intimate connection with past, current and prospective customers and can be the heart and soul of some Internet marketing campaigns. However, email newsletters can be double-edged swords. The reasons for encouraging signups for your email newsletter are equally as compelling as the reasons for making it easy for users to unsubscribe.
Why? For one, it’s the law. Anti-spam laws require that all email newsletters present clear instructions for unsubscribing. But other than federal law, it’s also better for your longterm customer relations to allow easy unsubscribing. The Nielsen Norman Group’s email newsletter usability study found that most users won’t unsubscribe from an email newsletter, even if they don’t want it. Meanwhile, they grow more and more annoyed each time they see an email from your organization. Instead of being a reminder of how important your business is to them, your newsletter becomes a monthly nuisance.
With that in mind, make sure your unsubscribe system has the following features:
No More Than Two Steps
Ideally, your unsubscribe process should be a single step: click here to unsubscribe. You may want to have a confirmation, such as checking a box and clicking a button on a page that the unsubscribe link pulls up. But avoid a system where users have to respond to a confirmation email to finalize their removal.
Clear Indication of Which Email Address is Subscribed
With more users using unified inboxes for multiple email addresses, it can be difficult for some readers to remember which email address they used to sign up. And without knowing which email address you have subscribed, some unsubscribe systems won’t let you opt-out. A simple fix is to include a brief blurb at the bottom saying something to the effect of "This newsletter was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.” Automated Unsubscribe Process
Unless you want to hire a fulltime email subscription manager, you should automate your subscribe/unsubscribe process. But make sure you monitor the email address in case someone is having troubles unsubscribing. No matter how clear you make your unsubscribe instructions, there are a few who refuse to follow directions and instead choose to reply with increasingly indignant messages (even if the address is "noreply”). Instead of making these users feel like they are being ignored, take some time to look over the inbox for your email newsletter now and then.
Test, Test, Test
Lastly, make sure that your unsubscription process works. Check the links in your email newsletters and make sure they work. Run tests every now and then—especially when you change servers—and ensure that the system works smoothly. It may seem counterintuitive to spend time on making your newsletter easy to unsubscribe from, but in the long run, it’s for the better. Instead of leaving your subscribers with a bad taste in their mouth, let them go without a fight and they may consider re-subscribing again in the future.