You’re on the list

A recent survey by cited some 80 per cent of Internet end users who said they have tried to unsubscribe from e-mail newsletters in the past, and the effort failed to stop delivery. 

If that’s the case, ecommerce marketers and others must take into consideration

that spammers may not be the only ones responsible for the dilution of e-mail’s effectiveness as a marketing tool: Sloppy unsubscribe handling could be another profound yet hard-to-quantify cause of this effect.

Here are other quick tips on how to keep sloppy unsubscribe processes from unraveling customer trust:

Have a reliable working subscription form on your Web site. Sounds simple, right? Not if your form is failing to confirm subscribers. A non-confirming e-mail newsletter has the largest probability of being reported as spam, because if you wait 30 days or so to send your first message-as many companies do-the chances are greater that the person subscribing to your e-mail is not going to remember the process.

A confirmation e-mail is not only a great reminder for customers, but it is also a good time to send specific instructions on how to add your newsletter or e-mail to the users’ accepted sender list.

Make it simple to unsubscribe. While this adjustment may cause an initial reduction in list size, the 2005 approach with permission e-mail marketing is “quality over quantity.” If your subscription list is full of recipients who are not “moving” and have never bothered to unsubscribe, those addresses were dead weight anyway and probably giving you poor analytics (numbers that you’ve been taking to marketing meetings and selling as rockin’ sales ROI).

Process unsubscribes immediately. Unsubscribe requests not honored within 10 days are considered violations of the federal U.S. Can-Spam Act and of course do not fall into email best practice standards. According to the 2004 Can-Spam Compliance Audit, most delayed unsubscribes were the results of technical lapses rather than intentional acts of ignoring end user or customer wishes.

Optimize your subscription form. If the size of your subscriber listleans up slightly once you make it easier to unsubscribe, you are going to need to make some adjustments to attract more customers. The quickest answer is to optimize your subscription form. One quick way to do this is to move the subscription form so it’s visible above the “fold” of the webpage. The form should also be found by prospective customers and visitors on the page of your website receiving the most unique traffic, or at least linked from the page with the most unique traffic.

You should also certify your e-mail with an e-mail sender certification service and post that web seal near every subscription form on your Web site. You can find affordable email sender certification at

Post and abide your privacy statement. To maintain customer trust and keep the number of unsubscribes low, your privacy statement should be posted on or near your subscription form, and a link to the statement should be in your e-mail message itself.

Additionally, if your privacy statement isn’t touching on customer privacy safeguarding in the first 200 words or so, consider writing an executive summary specifically covering email privacy protection as it relates to your customer. Use the link to this privacy summary to optimize your subscription form and e-mail newsletter.

[email protected]

Steve Delgado is marketing manager for Arial Software, a developer of e-mail marketing software products for both small business and enterprise-level communication. Arial Software ( is also the developer of the Relemail Email Sender Certification technology mentioned in this article. Delgado can be reached at 520-615-1954 or at the e-mail address above.

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