Making email unsubscribing a better experience

We all get plenty of spam every day. How many of the emails that we delete on a day-to-day basis are not actually spam, but those that we've actually signed up for? For me, that actually accounts for quite a lot of emails. So, I let the emails accumulate in my inbox for a few days and then I sat down and started unsubscribing from them.

As I was removing myself from the mailing lists of these websites it occurred to me that I wasn't annoyed with the products or services that these companies were promoting, rather it was the frequency that I was being emailed. Emailing me every single day is soon going to become very tiresome and in the end I just didn't even open those emails at all.

It's probably safe to say that if you want to unsubscribe from a mailing list it's because you either had a bad experience with a product or service, or you just don't want to receive those emails anymore. I can't think of many positive reasons for wanting to unsubscribe, but maybe you were waiting for a certain promotion, took advantage of it and then had no more need to receive the emails.

3 ways to unsubscribe

Therefore it's a good idea to make sure the removal process is as quick and painless as possible. Making my way through these emails, it became instantly obvious that each website fell in to one of three categories:

One-click removal: You click the unsubscribe link in the email and are taken to a webpage telling you that you have successfully been removed from the mailing list. Completely stress-free, but what if you clicked the link by accident? Not ideal, and none of the emails I unsubscribed from had the option to re-subscribe in case of user error.

Confirm unsubscription: Upon clicking the option to unsubscribe from within your email, you are directed to a webpage asking for you to confirm your removal from the list. Although not as speedy as the one-click removal mentioned above, it did feel like I had more control over the process.

Sign in to edit your email preferences: This one is frustrating for obvious reasons. The main problem I had with this process was that I was unsubscribing from websites that I hadn't used in months - if not years. If I couldn't remember my login details, I needed to use their password reminder service, wait for an email, then login and make the necessary changes. A major pain in the ass.

I don't think there's anything wrong with using either the first or the second option. It is always a good idea to redirect your users to a page that contains more than the words, "You have been removed from the mailing list". Always include your logo and try to make the process feel more human by adding something as simple as, "We're sorry to see you go...".

Try and make it positive

Even when people leave, it's still a good opportunity to learn something about them. Once the user has unsubscribed, there is no reason why you can't ask them why they have decided to leave - just make sure this is always an optional part of the process. Personally, I would very rarely want to type something in to a box, so a pre-typed list of reasons with a tick box would be a perfect solution.


If you provide a mailing list service, it might be worth your while spending some time on your unsubscribe process. A quick and easy removal process would in no way taint my opinion of the website or services that it was selling. I certainly wouldn't rule out returning to that mailing list or service should I ever have the need to in the future. However, a stressful experience could be enough for me to want to opt for one of your competitors instead!

Is there anything else you have come across that makes you mad when trying to unsubscribe from emails? Or maybe you've experienced some well thought out processes. Feel free to let me know your thoughts below!

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