Tonight I checked my email inbox and found about 100 useless emails I didn't even plan on reading. So instead of just deleting them as I usually do, I went on a marathon unsubscribing spree. This isn't the first time I've done this and I'm sure it won't be the last. Seeing many different interfaces for unsubscribing in quick succession made it apparent what makes for a good design.

Why is this important? While businesses might not directly care about someone unsubscribing since the unsubscriber is less likely to buy from the business again, it seems to me that making the unsubscription process painless makes a good last impression.  This in turn makes the unsubscriber more likely to become a customer again one day or even recommend the business to a friend.  To take myself as an example, just because I'm unsubscribing from the promotional emails from an online t-shirt store doesn't mean I'll never order from them again.

Unsubscribe Do's:

  • Do make it a single click from the bottom of the email (no questions asked, no login needed, no retyping my email )
  • If you have different frequency options or types of mailings, make a giant button that gets me off all of them so I don't have to read all the options

Unsubscribe Don'ts:

  • Don't make me tell you why I'm unsubscribing (but an optional form after I unsubscribe is acceptable if you really care)
  • Don't make me reply to the email to unsubscribe
  • Don't make me send an email to a weird randomly named email address to unsubscribe (yes I mean you Conde Nast!)
  • Don't make me notice that while your website is pretty, your email system is run off of a cgi-bin folder on a forgotten mainframe.  It should be polished and branded the same way you would any of your public content.  After all, it's your last chance to convey the impression of professionalism and trustworthiness to me.
  • For god's sake, don't send me an email to confirm my unsubscription!