How to Build a Better Email Unsubscribe Page: Best Practices for 2024 and Beyond

No matter how amazing your email newsletter is, some recipients will inevitably want to unsubscribe. It‘s just a reality of email marketing. But how you handle the unsubscribe process can make a big difference in your subscriber retention and even your overall brand perception.

In this post, we‘ll dive into the essential elements of an effective email unsubscribe page and share some best practices and examples to inspire you. We‘ll also discuss how to use your unsubscribe data to improve your overall email marketing strategy. Let‘s get started!

Don‘t Make Unsubscribing Difficult (Seriously, Don‘t)

First and foremost, never try to hide your unsubscribe link or make the process unnecessarily complicated for users. Not only does this create a poor user experience, it may even violate laws like the CAN-SPAM Act which require an easy way to opt out of commercial emails.

Some companies still use sneaky tactics like:

  • Hiding the unsubscribe link in tiny, light-colored text at the bottom of emails
  • Requiring a login to unsubscribe, even if one wasn‘t required to sign up originally
  • Making users go through multiple steps or confirmations to complete the unsubscribe
  • Using confusing language like "Click here if you don‘t want to not receive emails"

Don‘t do any of this. Make your unsubscribe link easy to find and the opt-out process simple with one or two clicks at most. It‘s better to let uninterested subscribers go than to annoy them and harm your sender reputation with spam complaints.

Email Unsubscribe Page Best Practices

Now that we‘ve covered what not to do, here are some unsubscribe page best practices to follow:

  1. Provide a brief survey on reasons for unsubscribing. This feedback can be tremendously valuable for identifying issues with your email content, frequency, or targeting. Keep it optional and quick to fill out.

  2. Offer alternatives to a complete unsubscribe. Some users may just want fewer or different types of emails. Present options to reduce frequency to weekly or monthly sends instead of daily, or to opt down to just your newsletter instead of your full email series.

  3. Make a last-ditch effort to retain subscribers. Your unsubscribe page is a final opportunity to showcase your email value proposition and re-engage wavering subscribers. Remind them of the benefits they‘ll miss out on, like exclusive discounts or helpful resources. You can even offer a special deal just for staying subscribed.

  4. Use personalization. If you have data on the individual subscriber such as name, company, or past purchases, use that to customize the message. For example: "We‘ll miss you, [Name]! Are you sure you want to unsubscribe? Here‘s a 20% off coupon for your next purchase at [Company]."

  5. Focus on good design and clear next steps. The unsubscribe page should maintain consistent branding with your website and emails. Make the unsubscribe button prominent but also include a "Remain Subscribed" button as an equal choice. Don‘t clutter the page with distractions.

Examples of Effective Unsubscribe Pages

Sometimes the best way to learn is from real-life examples. Here are a few unsubscribe pages that get it right:

Duolingo: This language learning app uses cute illustrations and a humorous message about disappointing the "owl family" if you unsubscribe. It also offers options to opt down to less frequent emails instead.

Groupon: Deal site Groupon cuts right to the chase on its unsubscribe page. It clearly reiterates what you‘ll lose by unsubscribing and offers a direct way back to your account page to manage email preferences instead.

Chubbies: The men‘s shorts brand Chubbies is known for cheeky humor and its unsubscribe page doesn‘t disappoint. It uses a funny analogy about quitting NASA, plus self-aware copy like "you probably have a very good reason" to unsubscribe. This makes the user feel understood, not judged.

charity:water: This nonprofit provides a great example for organizations outside of ecommerce. The headline emphasizes what the subscriber will miss out on (project updates and inspiring stories) and the body copy reinforces the importance of the cause. The call to action even flips the script by saying "I‘m staying" instead of "Unsubscribe."

Using Unsubscribe Data to Improve Email Marketing

Your unsubscribe data can yield valuable insights to improve your overall email strategy. Track your unsubscribe rate over time and analyze any spikes around particular dates, subject lines, or email campaigns. Cross-reference your unsubscribes with other engagement metrics like opens and click-through rates.

If you included an optional survey on reasons for unsubscribing, tally up those responses to identify the biggest turnoffs. Are subscribers citing too many emails, irrelevant content, or something else? Use these learnings to adjust your segmentation, cadence, or content strategy going forward.

You should also compare your unsubscribe rate to industry benchmarks. According to Campaign Monitor, the average unsubscribe rate across industries is 0.1%. If yours is much higher than that or your industry average, it‘s a red flag that you need to make adjustments.

Of course, some unsubscribes are inevitable as your email list naturally churns over time. But if you‘re seeing unusually high rates, don‘t ignore it. Investigate the causes and take steps to provide more value to your remaining subscribers.

Legal Considerations with Email Unsubscribes

In addition to the user experience implications, there are also important legal requirements around email unsubscribes to be aware of. The most notable is the CAN-SPAM Act, which applies to all commercial emails sent to U.S. recipients.

CAN-SPAM requires that you:

  • Provide a clear and conspicuous explanation of how to opt out of future emails
  • Process unsubscribe requests within 10 business days
  • Include your valid physical postal address in the email
  • Not require a fee or additional information (beyond an email address) to unsubscribe

Failing to comply can result in penalties of over $40,000 per email in violation. Yikes.

There are also emerging privacy regulations like Europe‘s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that apply to email marketing. While much of their focus is on data collection and consent at the point of opt-in, they also involve requirements around the unsubscribe process. Namely, that you provide a clear way to revoke consent and explain how to do so.

All this is to say: make sure your email unsubscribe process isn‘t just easy for the user but also compliant with all applicable laws. When in doubt, consult your legal counsel.

A/B Testing Your Unsubscribe Page

Like any element of your email program, your unsubscribe page can and should be optimized over time. Consider running A/B tests on different aspects like:

  • The copy and tone (humorous vs. straightforward)
  • Alternate options presented (reduced frequency, different content types)
  • Special offers or incentives to stay subscribed
  • Design and layout
  • Removal of the unsubscribe survey

Remember that with A/B testing, you should only test one element at a time to isolate its impact. Determine a goal metric to measure, whether that‘s a reduced unsubscribe rate or more survey completions. Let each test run long enough to reach statistical significance before declaring a winner and iterating.

The Takeaway

Hopefully this post has given you a new appreciation for the humble email unsubscribe page. Far from an afterthought, it‘s actually a crucial touchpoint in the subscriber journey that warrants strategic thought and optimization.

To recap, here are the key tenets of an effective unsubscribe page in 2024:

  1. Make the process clear and easy with no tricks
  2. Collect feedback on reasons for unsubscribing
  3. Offer alternatives and showcase your email value prop
  4. Use personalization and good design
  5. Analyze unsubscribe data for insights
  6. Ensure compliance with laws like CAN-SPAM, GDPR and CCPA
  7. Continuously A/B test and improve

By putting these best practices in place, you‘ll provide a better user experience, derive more value from departing subscribers, and build trust in your brand. So embrace the unsubscribe page as an opportunity, not an obligation. Your email program will be stronger for it.