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How to say goodbye: The art of the unsubscribe page

by Kate Lindemann  |  April 16, 2021

3 min. read
Unsubscribe page message over a photo background of a desk and computer.

It might seem counterintuitive, but making it easy for people to unsubscribe is an important part of a thriving mailing list. Plus, a well-designed unsubscribe page can ensure people’s positive feelings about your brand stay intact, even as they leave your list.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about unsubscribe pages, including how to set one up and how to make unsubscribing from your mailing list a positive experience with your brand.

What is an unsubscribe page?

An unsubscribe page is the page people reach when they click the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of an email. It allows them to confirm they want to be removed from a mailing list or stop receiving certain types of emails.

Bellroy's unsubscribe page with field to enter email address.

Why you need one

Allowing people to easily unsubscribe from your mailing list is an important part of email list management. Keeping subscribers trapped on your mailing list is bad for engagement and can even hurt your sender reputation, causing email service providers to send your emails to the spam folder.

In many places, a good unsubscribe page is also a legal requirement. The US CAN-SPAM Act requires a clear way for people to unsubscribe. Similarly, the EU’s GDPR legislation requires that it be just as easy for subscribers to remove themselves from a mailing list as it is for them to sign up. Canada, Australia and many other countries also have laws on the books that make an unsubscribe page an absolute must.

New Yorker's unsubscribe page.

How to create an unsubscribe page

Your unsubscribe page needs to be connected to the contact lists in your email marketing tool. To ensure it works correctly, follow your email provider’s instructions for creating unsubscribe pages.

Mailchimp, for example, automatically includes an unsubscribe link in every email. By default, this link unsubscribes contacts with a single click and directs them to a survey asking why they unsubscribed. To customize the unsubscribe page, you can either edit the survey text or build your own confirmation page with Mailchimp’s form builder and host it on your website.

Best practices for unsubscribe pages

While there are no universal rules for unsubscribe pages, there are a few basics you’ll want to keep in mind as you adapt your email tool’s template or create your own.

Make it easy

Don’t make people log in to unsubscribe, and don’t make them wait for an email to click a link. At most, two clicks should be all it takes: the unsubscribe link in the email and a confirmation button on the unsubscribe page.

Slate's unsubscribe page with an "opt out" CTA.

Ask questions later

A quick survey asking people why they unsubscribed can give you valuable insights. Just don’t make it a hoop people have to jump through to get off your list. Don’t ask for feedback until after the unsubscribe action is complete.

Give confirmation

Display a brief message letting people know they’ve successfully unsubscribed.

Tread carefully

Your unsubscribe page should mostly be about unsubscribing, but many brands want to make one last effort to keep contacts on their list. One way to do this is to give people the option of dialing back the emails (or only getting certain types) instead of unsubscribing altogether. However, this may annoy people who just want to unsubscribe. Whether the risk is worth it is up to you.

The Bonobos unsubscribe page with options to tailor subscription settings instead.

Most importantly, remember that an unsubscribe page is more about function than form. Clever copy and graphics don’t hurt (it’s never too late to let your brand identity shine through), but the most important thing is that the page is clear and easy to use.

Provide departing subscribers with a smooth experience, and you’ll keep your brand in their good graces, if not in their inbox.