Writing about e-commerce, I end up signing up for lots of accounts and newsletters on websites, most of which I’m not necessarily interested in. 

Still, this gives me an opportunity to look at how these companies are formatting emails, how frequently they send them and, crucially, how easy it is to unsubscribe. 

If people want to unsubscribe from emails, it should be made as easy as possible, as the alternative for many recipients is the report spam option, something which can have an adverse effect on sender reputations with ISPs and therefore deliverability

Here’s a good example from Fab, and some tips on best practice in this area…


Fab is a great site, and has lots of great design features, but I would question the frequency of its emails, though it may be fine for someone more engaged with the company than me. 

Take a look at my inbox (I’ve searched for mails from Fab): 

I’ve been receiving up to four a day, which may be too much for some. However, Fab does follow best practice for allowing users to unsubscribe.

For example, rather than burying the unsubscribe link in the footer, it has a prominent message at the top of the email. This makes it easier for customer to find and click, and reduces the likelihood that they will use the spam button. 

The unsubscribe landing page is excellent too. Rather than try to cling on to subscribers like a desperate lover, it has a very clear ‘unsubscribe from everything’ link

This means a quick two click process if people are sure they’ve had enough. There’s no sense it making this any more difficult. 

Fab also recognises that some people may just prefer to receive fewer emails, and so it has provide further options for these subscribers: 

It also provides further preference options so subscribers can opt-out of product categories they are uninterested in. 

The examples here are from the US version of Fab. Funnily enough, the UK site just unsubscribes you straightaway without any fuss. A one click process. 

Which is best? Is it better just to make the unsubscribe process as easy as possible, or should marketers attempt to ‘save’ a few subscribers by offering the option of setting preferences? Answers below please…

Best practice tips for unsubscribe pages

If they want to leave, let them… 

The Fab example with the ’unsubscribe from everything’ link is good practice. People can instantly see how to opt out. Don’t make people jump through hoops. 

Give them options 

It may be that recipients are interested in your products and services, but they are receiving too many irrelevant recommendations, or just too many emails. 

Allowing them to change the frequency of emails, or just choose certain product categories will make communications more relevant and may prevent people from unsubscribing altogether. 

Grab some feedback if you can

If you can find out why people have chosen to unsubscribe, this could be valuable for improving future email marketing efforts.

Again, don’t make them work too hard. Just a few mulitiple choice answers and a text field should do it. 

In this example, Amazon makes users click on a feedback option before they can unsubscribe from its daily deals emails. Feedback shouldn’t be compulsory. 

Don’t make people login to unsubscribe

This is asking for trouble. If you make them login, and in some cases, hunt around for passwords, then you are just going to frustrate users. 

For example, if I try to opt out of the ‘items from your favourite sellers’ emails from eBay, I have to login first. Even when I have logged in, it isn’t immediately obvious what I need to do: 

Set expectations

If they are immediately unsubscribed, confirm this. However, if for whatever reason, it will take a few days, make this clear.

Otherwise, people will just become annoyed if they receive extra emails after thinking they have already opted out. 

Make them more human

You never know, a joke or two might just save a few people from unsubscribing. If nothing else, it leaves them with a more positive impression. 

It’s an oldie, but Groupon’s ‘punish Derrick’ page is a great example of this