Unsubscribe link: Why you need it in your marketing emails

Learn why the unsubscribe link is very important for the success of your email marketing strategies. Discover the best practices in email unsubscribing.

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We’ve spoken many times about building a contact list as one of the main steps in your email marketing strategy. We have also often repeated how important it is for you to have a clean list. In fact, you’re probably a bit tired of hearing all about it all by now. We get it. But what we haven't told you about is how important your unsubscribe link actually is.

Some hate them, but unsubscribe links can really help your email deliverability. Want to learn how? Read on!

Email unsubscribe: A friend, not a foe

An unsubscribe link is a link within your email campaign, often placed in the email footer, that allows users to cancel their subscription when they don't want to receive any more emails from you. As we mentioned, unsubscribe links are important to protect your email deliverability and are also required by many spam laws around the world.

It’s always painful to see people unsubscribing from your contact list, but it's more beneficial than you may think. We know it may seem backward to offer your clients an easy way for them to leave, but if you’re providing your contacts with quality content, most of them won’t even look at that unsubscribe button.

Sometimes, though, even the most engaging content might not be the right fit for some of your subscribers. And if this happens and your contacts can’t find your unsubscribe link they may just mark you as spam. You don’t want that, and we don’t want that for you.

Contact lists: is more always better?

Contact lists are something we - as people who send emails - cherish very much. Our businesses often depend crucially on the communications we send out to our subscribers. So, we never want to lose contacts. But when it comes to a contact list, more isn't always better.

Although it’s difficult, you always need to keep in mind that subscribers who don’t engage with your content are not valuable to you. What you want instead is to have a list of contacts that actually open and read your emails, and hopefully that click on and share some of the content too. We recently explained what these email statistics mean for you and how you can improve them to enhance engagement.

Sidekick’s content team keeps its email list clean in a very effective way, notifying subscribers so that they can stay on the list, if they wish; otherwise they will be unsubscribed. This is an example of very good practice.

One way to ensure that your list is clean and that people actually want to receive your communications is to allow them to unsubscribe from your email list. There is absolutely no reason to force someone to stay on your contact list if they don’t want to receive your offers and communications. It won’t benefit your business in any way, in fact, it can cost you business.

But this is probably not enough to convince you… You want to know more, right? Until now you probably thought many contacts = big contact list = good. Well, we're sorry to be the ones to tell you, but quantity doesn’t equal quality.

Benefits of including an email unsubscribe link

It’s not merely about having a clean list - including an unsubscribe link in your emails has many other benefits.

Avoid customer frustration

We’ve all been there. Without even realizing, we’ve given consent to receive newsletters from a website or a brand, we start receiving emails that we are not particularly interested in. Hmm...annoying. Especially when your inbox is full of promotional emails that - let’s be frank - you don’t care about.

Why would you put anybody else through this? You know yourself how frustrating it is. Especially if you open a newsletter hoping to find an unsubscribe link…but it’s not there! It’s important to be understanding of people’s needs and preferences and allow them to opt out of your email list, if they wish to do so.

In fact, this improves the whole email marketing experience. As email marketers, we should know that, unlike other social channels, the inbox is for content you specifically want to see.

Groupon gives unsubscribing from their Daily Groupon list a fun twist.

Get valuable feedback

If you're sending a confirmation email to let your users know they are no longer part of your mailing list, you can use this opportunity to gain more information about why they are unsubscribing (and maybe suggest an alternative newsletter of yours they could find more interesting!).

This feedback can be really helpful, as you might learn why people don't find your newsletter’s content valuable anymore or whether they think your email communications are sent out too often, all of which can inform how you adjust your strategy to best meet your audience's needs.

Beta List asks its subscribers to take a few minutes to give some feedback on their email communications, so that they can understand how to do a better job.

End up in the inbox, not in spam

There is no other way to say it - fundamentally, including an unsubscribe link in your emails gives you more chances to end up in the inbox rather than in the spam folder. This is also because if people don’t want to receive your newsletters and they find no unsubscribe link when they look for it, they will probably flag your email as spam.

You should know by now how detrimental it’s for your reputation to have emails that end up in the spam folder. Your spam complaints should always be kept to a minimum. At Mailjet, the acceptable threshold of spam is less than or equal to 0.08%. If your spam rate is higher than the threshold your account can be suspended or, in some cases, even terminated.

Comply with anti-spam legislation

Every country has their own law on the inclusion of an unsubscribe link, as this is mandatory in anti-spam legislation. Since it came into effect in May 2018, GDPR has set the standards and has become a must-follow for any brand with contacts in the EU. Non-compliance with GDPR puts you at risk of fines up to €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover, whichever is greater.

According to article 17 of GDPR, ‘Right to erasure’ or ‘Right to be forgotten’, data subjects have the right to request their data to be erased. Data controllers have the obligation of deleting such data when it’s no longer necessary for the purposes for which it was collected, or the data subjects withdraw consent for it to be collected and used.

This applies to email marketing campaigns too. If a contact requests to unsubscribe from a list, they are exercising their rights as data subjects. Your duty as the data controller is to delete such data. With GDPR, consent cannot be something that you obtain once and that’s it. The European regulation allows people to choose for themselves and to protect their personal data at any given time, should they change their mind.

How can Mailjet help?

Our Acceptable Use Policy is very clear when it comes to unsubscribe links, to ensure our clients are protected and we can offer the best deliverability. At Mailjet, "all marketing campaigns must include a clear and concise link for recipients to easily opt out of receiving future communication. The link must be easy for anyone to recognize, read, and understand."

As a GDPR-compliant solution -, we ensure our clients are on the right side of the law by including an unsubscribe link in all of the emails created with our drag-and-drop editor, Email Editor. While this link cannot be removed, it can be customized to fit one’s brand.

All of our subscribers are free to unsubscribe from our email list at any time.

Want to know more about email best practices? Check out our Email Growth Playbook, a database of 60+ tactics to help you increase the performance of your email campaigns.

Wrapping up

We hope that by now you understand how important including an unsubscribe link is for your email marketing practices. Always remember that consent, unlike diamonds, is not forever.

If you want to learn more about how to keep your contact list clean to maintain strong email deliverability, check out our post on email list cleaning tips!


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Have you cleaned your contact list recently? Have you seen an impact on your metrics? Or maybe you have been able to improve your emailing strategy based on feedback you got from unhappy readers? Tell us all about it on Twitter.

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