Email users are more than ready to hit the 'report spam' button for emails they no longer wish to receive, spam or not, so making the unsubscribe process quick and easy is essential.

Still, some email marketers have yet to take this on board if the following example from Real Networks is anything to go by.

The unsubscribe link is in pretty small text, but at least it is where you would expect to find it, and Real has included a message at the top of the email telling users where to find it:

Email unsubscribe link

Here's where it starts to get complicated. After clicking on the unsubscribe link I'm directed to this page where I first have to enter my email address:

email unsubscribe step two

After this step I am unsubscribed from the email, but I am warned that I may still receive emails for 3-5 days afterwards. Why can't they remove me straightaway?

Email unsubscribe confirmation

It gets worse though. I thought I had unsubscribed from all of Real's emails, but this is not the case. Apparently I am subscribed to another 5 emails from Real:

Email preferences

So, to really unsubscribe from Real's emails, I now have to log in to my Real account, for which I had forgotten the password:

Email unsubscribe login

Then I need to untick the various emails I had been subscribed to and save the changes:

Email unsubscribe process step 5

After this, I am finally unsubscribed, but did it really have to be so complicated? How many email users would choose to go through this unsubscribe process when they can just hit the spam button and achieve the same effect for far less hassle?

If brands want to reduce the number of recipients marking their emails as spam, and improve deliverability, they are going to have to make unsubscribing as easy as possible.

This means a one or two step unsubscribe procedure which does not make the customer jump through hoops, unticking boxes, logging in and so on.

Check out this post for more tips on the unsubscribe process.

Related research:
Email Marketing Briefing - March 2008
Email Marketing Platforms Buyer's Guide 2007

Related stories:
Do ISPs need to change the 'report spam' button?
UK retailers failing to follow email best practice

Graham Charlton

Published 9 April, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (8)

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Sam B

To you this may be bad practice, but for Real it's standard MO. Real are notorious for hooking people who want to watch .rm videos and loading them with a bloated program, lots of other stuff they don't want (including adware), and making it nigh-on impossible to completely get rid of it.

Anyone with a little web-savvy downloads an alternative for playing .rm files (e.g. Real Alternative) and doesn't touch Real itself with a ten-foot pole. Unfortunately of course, that's not everybody.

over 10 years ago


Sam Warner, Online marketing at NA

Good article. This is exactly what I have gone through unsubscribing from Weightwatchers and I'm still getting emails.

over 10 years ago



I have just given up with companies that require anything more than a 1-click unsubscribe. If, after the first click on the unsubscribe link I am not unsubscribed, I am done! You are now a spammer and get reported as such. I don't have time to login (if I even remember my account details) and navigate some complex decision tree just to tell you I am no longer interested.

over 10 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

Hi Graham,

I agree with you there. If I hadn't been writing a blog post on the process I would have just hit the report spam button too.

over 10 years ago


Andrew Kordek

Totally agree with you here, this is truly a pain. And Real has been noted to hijack your computer and make it the default player over and over again. Guess they have not learn that in your face marketing, better known as "interuption marketing" does not work.

Also the 3-5 day thing is a just means that they dont synch their unsub DB everyday or real time surpress their file. They will claim that they have 10 days by law, but its still a true pain for the customer

At least they didn't send you an email to click and confirm on each preference that you didnt want to unsubscribe.

The Scrappy Email Marketer

over 10 years ago


Justin Frank

Good info.

It's always ethical to remove people from the list should they click to unsubscribe.

However I did encounter marketers to keep sending me emails even I've unsubscribed from their master database.

What I would do is to click the 'spam' button in return for the 'preferential' treatment.

over 10 years ago


Rob Lewis

A colleague of mine recently tried to unsubscribe to emails from a reasonably large financial comparison site, and was told it would take them 28 days to be removed from the list - that to me is totally unacceptable.

over 10 years ago


Iain Mars

I've had loads of problems with spammy emails lately. They're from companies that I have genuinely subscribed to but have tried on numerous occassions to unsubscribe myself. I get the ever so familiar "Thank you for unsubscribing" note but I may as well have not bothered because they still send them anyway!

over 6 years ago

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