If you love someone, sometimes you just have to let them go. Normally, this a cheesy line penned into the script of the latest Ben Stiller rom-com, but it actually has some value in the context of email newsletters. For publishers, one of the most sacred relationships they have is with their customer – they want to be producing highly valuable content for them in order to keep these fans coming back for more.
However, people change. They get new interests or grow out of old ones. A woman subscribed to a pregnancy newsletter probably won’t be an avid reader much longer after she gives birth. These people will want to unsubscribe, and publishers need to let them. It’s not you, it’s them.
One of the worst things publishers can do is make it a hassle to unsubscribe from email newsletters. Obviously, losing subscribers is something no company wants to go through. It can affect publishers’ ability to drive traffic to their websites, hinders brand exposure and, if they leverage email advertising to drive revenue from their newsletter, it may even impact the bottom line.
However, making it a hassle to unsubscribe will only lead to things getting worse. When people receive messages they perceive as spam, they start to think differently about the sender. This means publishers are essentially tanking all that effort spent nurturing the publisher-subscriber relationship.
The best way to handle unsubscribing is by making it a clean break. Unsubscribe buttons should be located toward the top of the of the newsletter, not buried in the bottom amidst a bunch of tiny text that no one would ever see. It doesn’t have to be a gigantic red button, but readers shouldn’t have to play Where’s Waldo either.
The next step is actually just removing as many steps as possible. Publishers may want to know why the customer is unsubscribing or try to convince them to stay. That’s okay, but just don’t make them click through 10 more pages if they just want to be done with it. Asking subscribers to take extra actions can be annoying, particularly when you factor in the fact they may be trying to do all of this through a mobile phone. People aren’t going to write a 150-word response about why they are unsubscribing through their phone.
Vagueness can also be a real problem for people trying to unsubscribe. As Econsultancy noted, some senders have a bad habit of using language such as “your request to unsubscribe has been considered.” That doesn’t tell people anything – in fact, it may even cause more frustration as they are unsure of whether they’ve unsubscribed or not.
If there is one central theme that runs through this entire unsubscribing process, it’s the importance of making everything as painless as possible.
“If you want people to unsubscribe through you rather than through Gmail or reporting your emails as spam, … simplicity is key,” the news source added. “There seems to be a school of thought that making it more difficult to opt-out is a good thing, and will help to retain subscribers. This is a mistake, as frustrating users will just force them to unsubscribe in other ways.”
Getting back together
Of course, unsubscribing isn’t the end of the world. In fact, the one-time readers may eventually realize the folly of their ways and decide they want to come back – the pregnancy newsletter subscriber may have another child. However, if publishers make it difficult to unsubscribe, they may have scared the person away for good. This is why it’s so important to make unsubscribing hassle-free, otherwise publishers may be doing more harm than good.