Depending on the stats you choose, mobiles now account for somewhere between 40% and 70% of opens. 

Whichever is the 'correct' figure, it's clear that mobile is important enough for marketers to be optimising for these users

One area to optimise is the unsubscribe process, so are brands doing this well? Let's see... 

Why should brands make it easy to unsubscribe? 

The bottom line is that, if people can't unsubscribe easily, they'll report emails as spam instead. 

This chart from Return Path shows the factors at play when ISPs decide whether or not an email is spam. As you can see, reputation is all important. 

Having people report your emails as spam has a negative effect on deliverability. It should be avoided at all costs.

One way to do this is to make it easy for people to unsubscribe is that' what they want to do. There's no sense in making it any harder than it needs to be.

If people have decided that they don't want any more emails. sending them round in circles will not change their mind. 

What should a good email unsubscribe process look like? 

Here's a few tips.. 

  • Use an unsubscribe procedure that requires as few steps as possible. One would be ideal. 
  • Unsubscribing should be a one or two step process at most, and you should not require customers to add any further login details.
  • Don't make customers jump through too many hoops to unsubscribe, as in some of the examples here, can damage your brand in their eyes, and will often lead them to report your emails as spam instead. 
  • Remind customers exactly how and where they signed up to receive your emails. Otherwise, they may perceive you as a spammer.
  • Place the unsubscribe message where people can see it  Making customers look too hard for the unsubscribe link will have them reporting you as spam. 
  • Test your unsubscribe procedure. Make sure the process works by clicking the links or sending test emails.
  • Provide confirmation that the unsubscribe request has been successful. 

And one final tip, make the unsubscribe process works for mobile emails. Now let's see who is doing this...

Groupon

Mobile optimisation hasn't occurred to Groupon yet, which is odd when the business relies on email so much. 

I have to hunt, then pinch and zoom in the email footer: 

Then I'm taken to a non-optimised unsubscribe page. It's a one click process, which is good. 

However, I've only been unsubscribed from one category of emails. So, more pinching and zooming is required to fix this... 

Notonthehighstreet.com

It's a mobile-optimised email, so this bodes well. However, the text containing unsubscribe details is still very small. 

The text also seems to want to dissuade people. There's an option to change frequency, then the total unsubscribe option is aimed at users who have received the email in error. 

The page is also good for mobile, though this isn't the time to promote the gift finder app. 

Other than that, it's nice and clear and NOTHS provides clear confirmation. 

Pizza Express 

Another company that should have realised the importance of optimising emails for mobile by now. 

Finding the unsubscribe link is a real chore here: 

The landing page is little better. 

ebuyer.com

The unsubscribe link is buried in the footer text of a long email. Many users won't have the patience to find it. 

The landing page is OK (ish) but why does it take seven days? Maybe there's a good reason, but it risks annoying recipients. 

Sainsbury's

Optimised for mobile, but link is still buried in the footer. As if making it harder to find is a good idea. 

The unsubscribe page is optimised, but still poor. It's a bit needy, begging the recipient to stay and making them untick boxes to unsubscribe. 

Remember, someone has just clicked the link to unsubscribe. This page essentially ignores that fact. 

Booking.com

We've heaped praise on Booking.com's user experience and clever use of persuasion before. Let's hope the emails match this success. 

So far, so good. An optimised email and the most prominent unsubscribe link so far. 

Nice landing page too. A clear button to unsubscribe from everything and useful information about emails related to bookings. 

HMV

Not bad from HMV here. The link isn't so hard to find... 

The best thing is the one-click process to opt out. It saves a lot of hassle for users. 

Labour 

For the last two examples, let's see how the major parties are doing it. 

Labour's unsubscribe link is easy enough to find: 

However, the unsubscribe page is really annoying. You have to scroll past the standard political waffle to reach this option: 

I then actually have to type in my email to unsubscribe. It's hard to imagine a more annoying process. It may even lose them votes ;)

Conservatives

Again, it's easy enough to find the link to unsubscribe: 

No choosing of options here, just confirmation that you've been unsubscribed: 

In summary

A trawl through my inbox shows that, for starters, lots of brands need to begin optimising their emails for mobiles. 

Some are so hard to read on a mobile screen that users will unsubscribe for that reason alone. Or just ignore them. Either way, the failure to optimise means that email marketers' work may well be wasted. 

By far the best option for users is to just provide a one-click unsubscribe process, as on the HMV and Conservative examples. 

After that, the two click processes from Notonthehighstreet.com and Booking.com are the nest best option. Both are clear and avoid too much extra effort for the user. 

At all costs, email marketers should avoid the pleading and unnecessary extra steps used by Sainsbury's and Labour.

If people have clicked to unsubscribe, that's a very clear indication of what they want to do. Don't annoy them by ignoring this. 

Graham Charlton

Published 24 November, 2014 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 (1)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

"Labour's unsubscribe link is easy enough to find ... I then actually have to type in my email to unsubscribe. It's hard to imagine a more annoying process. It may even lose them votes ;)"

I think it's about security - all political parties are obvious targets for hackers who want to steal their lists or bulk-unsubscribe their members. (My previous company provided email to Labour when they were in government).

They probably started out by prefilling the form but were advised that approach could be exploited by any hackers who could guess the link URL from the email to the form. Personally I'd have chosen a different approach, but I can't blame them for being cautious.

over 3 years ago

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