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A few weeks back I went away on a lovely 10 day holiday to Egypt.  When I got back to reality and started going through my “after holiday to do” list, one of the points naturally was my emails.  To no surprise I found my inbox was flooded with a mass of unread emails.  It wasn’t a big issue for me in the past but this time, I had nearly 400 emails in my Hotmail account!  It certainly was time to update my subscriptions and reduce the frequency I receive emails from certain brands.  It wasn’t that I wanted to stop receiving them all together, just a bit less frequently.

What astonished me was the fact that most senders simply forced me to unsubscribe all together without giving me the option to change my preferences.  What a wasted opportunity!  At that point they lost an email address rather than embracing the opportunity and gaining more information on the subscriber!

There is a simple way, to reduce the number of unsubscribes – Unsubscribe Page/Preference Centre. This is a straight forward solution where you introduce an additional step of a preference page before the final unsubscribe.  It usually can be built by your ESP or a creative agency.  These can be simple and include options like newsletter subjects areas or more advance ones which can include “update your details” section or frequency of send.

A Preference Centre not only allows the recipient to amend their preferences and refine their profile but also to update their details if their circumstances have changed.  It is the most practical option to gain valuable insight into your recipient’s preferences.

If you decide to create one for your newsletters or already have one; here are a few things to remember:

1. Provide options

During my “inbox cleansing” exercise, I have spotted this great unsubscribe pages for Clothes Show Live:

Clothes Show Live

Not only did they give me a choice of other newsletters I could be potentially receiving but also included an option which stopped emails for 30 days!  Perfect if I jet off on a holiday and don’t want to return to a cluttered inbox.  And”¦ let’s face it – I am going to delete most of those emails without reading anyway so why waste money on sending them to me?

Another quick win is to include a link to your Facebook or Twitter page to give them options!  Just because they don’t want to receive emails from you any longer, doesn’t mean they want break contact all together.

2. Always find out why

If your recipient is determined to unsubscribe from your mailings, make sure they tell you why. It could be a great way to prevent future unsubscribes.  It will also provide you with fantastic insight into how you can keep your recipients engaged.  Time Out Offers have done a fantastic form which could help doing just that:

Unsubscribe Page

3. Don’t overcomplicate

Making it difficult to unsubscribe is a risky tactic and may annoy the reader.  You can potentially loose them as a client and not just as a subscriber.  Don’t irritate them and ensure the process is easy.

Not damaging your reputation as a sender is another reason for making your unsubscribe process straight forward.  If people can’t unsubscribe, they will report your email as spam and if enough people do that, your sender reputation and deliverability can be affected.

Besides, if they don’t want to be receiving your emails, why would you want to send to them?

4. Be honest

If the unsubscribe process isn’t instant, make sure you inform the unsubscriber.  Let them know that they may continue receiving emails for X number of days.  This will set expectations and they will not get confused when they receive the next email from you after unsubscribing.

And for those of you still reading, a bonus tip #5

5. Brand and Personalisation

If you have information already available, ensure to prefill the page with it so it is easier for your recipients to know what data they need to update.

Don’t forget to clearly state who you are so it is clear and understandable which brand the person is trusting with their details.

So my advice is – don’t take the easy way out!  People’s circumstances change.  They may have moved houses, roles, jobs and hence their interests may have changed so make it easy for them to update their preferences and don’t force them to unsubscribe.

If your recipients wish to receive your emails less frequently, why not let them?  It is better to keep them as a subscriber than loose them all together.

And if they simply want to stop receiving your emails, respect that to ensure your reputation as a sender and as a brand is intact.

Knowing your recipients up to date information and what they want to receive, will help you send relevant emails.  This naturally will lead to better engagement and higher open/click rates and will create positive feelings about the brand.