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Make it easy for people to say goodbye

I subscribe to so many email newsletters that I’m surprised I ever have time to do more than look at the subject lines. (Top Tip – make sure your emails tell people the content in their subject lines!) Recently, I’ve been having a purge, and it’s been amazing to see the contrast between the most easy to leave and the most difficult.

Those companies who make it difficult to leave their mailing lists are confusing this with not encouraging people to leave. Of course we don’t want our readers to say goodbye. But if they want to do so, we achieve nothing by trying to keep them on our lists through making the leaving process difficult. Just don’t put the idea of leaving into their heads in the first place. (Of course, that means I shouldn’t even be writing about this subject, but I’ll put my country before party here.)

So, tuck the ‘unsubscribe’ link away somewhere people would expect to find it, but don’t thrust it in their faces if they’re not looking for it. Then ensure that if they do click it, boom, they’re removed from the list. Asking for a confirmation click isn’t unreasonable, but that’s it. I’ve been asked to re-enter my email address to leave a list, and in more than one case, to re-enter my email address and a password which I apparently created when I signed up! Other systems have said things like: “OK, we’ve unsubscribed you from our weekly marketing email, but you’re still a member of our monthly email, our sales email…” (list continues ad infinitum). There was no option to leave all lists. More than one made me click a ‘confirm’ link, and then returned a ‘404’ error page, so I’d no idea if I’d left or not.

I guess the argument goes: “If they want to leave, they’re no use to you any more, so who cares if you mess them around?” But that’s just wrong. There are several sets of people who might be leaving your list who you really, really don’t want to annoy. One is existing customers or prospects who still want your products but who just don’t want your emails. Another is existing customers or prospects who are changing their email address because of a job or company change. Irritate these people at your peril.