Just unsubscribe me already

Do you indulge in email marketing? Here’s something that will completely and irrevocably destroy any chance you had at retaining any love for your braaaand: when I click unsubscribe, take me to a page where I have to enter my email in order to unsubscribe. It’s slimy — the technological equivalent of hiding someone’s car keys.

Look, I get it. I’ve done some email marketing, enough to know that you’re desperate to protect that list. Maybe you worked hard at building it, perhaps you paid good money for it. You’re thinking that added bit of friction might stop a certain percentage of people from following through on their intended unsubscribe.1

Here’s the thing: you are shooting yourself in the foot with a nail gun every time someone tries to unsubscribe from your list because here is what happens:

  1. I want to unsubscribe.

  2. I search for and find your craftily hidden unsubscribe button — maybe you’ve called it “Email preferences”, you sly dog, you.

  3. I click on the link which takes me to your form where I have to enter in the email address you just emailed me at.

  4. I close the page in frustration and click “This is Spam” instead, which I actually take a little satisfaction in.

OK — so now your emails will ultimately make their way to less people because they’ve been marked as spam. This alone should be reason enough to make unsubscribing as easy as possible.

It gets worse, though. Essentially, “marketing” is a giant game where you try to pretend as hard as you can that actually you’re not in it for the money, and I go along for the ride as long as it makes me feel better about myself. You want to help people. You want to make a connection. Your product is so great you just want everyone to get a chance to try it.

When you leave someone with a sour taste in their mouth after you tried to nickel and dime them with a crappy unsubscribe form — you’ve destroyed the notion (already fragile at that point) that you are their buddy. You’ve taken them from “damn, these emails are a bit annoying, I’m going to unsubscribe,” to an internalized and visceral dislike for everything you stand for.

At least, that’s where you’ve taken me.

Don’t turn what might be a simple inbox cleanup into an ordeal that ruins your chances of getting any of my money in the future.

Make unsubscribing easy — do it for both of us.

  1. Or maybe that’s just the default for your email system, in which case you need a new one.