Posts Tagged ‘unsubscribe’

We have always talked about the need to remove inactive email addresses from your email list. It has now just become more important than ever.  Yahoo has announced that they’ll be releasing user names that haven’t been accessed in over 12 months and making those names available for someone else to register. This isn’t a one time thing, but a new policy going forward which is in place from 15 July 2013.


Why is this important?

Scenario 1: You have a Yahoo user who has subscribed to your list with a Yahoo email… it becomes their email that all their mail subscriptions get sent to, it gets filled up with emails, and after a while they don’t check the address, and they never log into the account. Say a year goes by, and they haven’t logged in. So Yahoo releases that email account and a new person signs up for that old email address. Now a different person who never signed up to your list will potentially be getting your emails. You think they will just hit junk/spam or delete? You bet they will.

Scenario 2: Yahoo turns some of these old addresses turned into Spam Traps. Spam Traps are email addresses which are either never used or retired email addresses that are used to catch spammers and those with poor emailing/list management habits. If you continue email those spam traps…… can you see how this could impact on your deliverability?


What should I do?

Here’s the steps you should take for all email addresses (not just Yahoo) on your list and signing up:

  1. All new sign up’s should ideally be double opted-in. This helps to ensure it’s a live email address manned by a human
  2. All new sign up’s should be sent a welcome email or transactional email after they sign up. These emails should make it clear how and where they signed up as well as an easy to click and clear link to unsubscribe.
  3. All addresses that do not take an action (open/clickthrough/share/forward etc.) after about 6-9 months time should be removed from your list. Email activity is the key metric and you should be engaging inactive subscribers at the 3-6 month mark in an attempt to get them active again. If after six months of not opening, it’s highly likely they never will.


What should I be aware of as a marketer?

A Yahoo! spokeswoman said that between mid-July and mid-August when the old email addresses become available, Yahoo! would attempt to unsubscribe the old emails from as many commercial lists as possible and all email to those addresses would result in bounce messages. So one solution is to make sure you send a campaign out between mid-July and mid-August so that if it hits any inactive emails you will get a bounce message so you can then you can remove any old emails.


This new policy by Yahoo makes list cleaning a must for anyone who manages an email list.


If you are sending notification or transactional emails that contain important information, do you still need to include the unsubscribe link?

The CAN-SPAM act is pretty straightforward on this matter – transactional emails do not require unsubscribe links; promotional emails do.

This is a fairly straight forward rule for emails that are clearly transactional – sometimes you send emails for legal reasons and it may be crucial that your subscribers receive that information, e.g., financial notifications, legal notifications etc so that would count as a transactional email.

However – there are some emails where the nature of the content is gray. For example, it’s possible to put promotional material in a transactional email. What do you do then? Well, there are some guidelines the FTC provides but it’s mostly common sense. Say if an email is predominantly transactional but has a little bit of promotional content, it’s OK to omit the unsubscribe link. BUT if the email is largely promotional should be treated as such.

For an example if your email is transactional, you can take the unsubscribe link off, and replace it with some copy,  perhaps something along the lines of:
“We use email to communicate important information to you. If you are not the key contact for this message, or you have another reason to request that we do not email you, please contact us on and we will update our records”

Here are a couple of key questions you can ask yourself to determine where your email lies on the spectrum so you can determine if that unsubscribe link is legally necessary:

Q. How do I know if what I’m sending is a transactional or relationship message?

A. The primary purpose of an email is transactional or relationship if it consists only of content that:

  1. facilitates or confirms a commercial transaction that the recipient already has agreed to;
  2. gives warranty, recall, safety, or security information about a product or service;
  3. gives information about a change in terms or features or account balance information regarding a membership, subscription, account, loan or other ongoing commercial relationship;
  4. provides information about an employment relationship or employee benefits; or
  5. delivers goods or services as part of a transaction that the recipient already has agreed to.

Q. What if the message combines commercial content and transactional or relationship content?

A. It’s common for email sent by businesses to mix commercial content and transactional or relationship content. When an email contains both kinds of content, the primary purpose of the message is the deciding factor. Here’s how to make that determination: If a recipient reasonably interpreting the subject line would likely conclude that the message contains an advertisement or promotion for a commercial product or service or if the message’s transactional or relationship content does not appear mainly at the beginning of the message, the primary purpose of the message is commercial. So, when a message contains both kinds of content – commercial and transactional or relationship – if the subject line would lead the recipient to think it’s a commercial message, it’s a commercial message for CAN-SPAM purposes. Similarly, if the bulk of the transactional or relationship part of the message doesn’t appear at the beginning, it’s a commercial message under the CAN-SPAM Act.

If you have any queries, feel free to email

The three pillars of commercial email law in Australia and New Zealand are the same in both countries – have consent, identify yourself, and have a functioning and actioned unsubscribe facility.

This week the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued Tiger Airways (a Singapore Airlines backed operator) with an $110,000 infringement notice — for failing to unsubscribe customers from marketing emails.  Tiger must now launch a program of audits, reviews, training and process to improve their email practices.

This follows similar action and outcome last year when Virgin Blue was fined for having an unsubscribe link that malfunctioned over a relatively short period of time.

‘This is one of a number of investigations in which the ACMA has found businesses have allowed faulty unsubscribe facilities to continue, in spite of repeated customer complaints,’ said ACMA Deputy Chairman Richard Bean.

‘This action is another reminder to businesses that they should pay attention to what their customers are saying, test their email unsubscribe facilities regularly, and not simply set and forget them. Tiger has now committed to ensuring its unsubscribe facilities are functional and effective.

‘Marketing to customers who have unsubscribed is not only against the law, it causes consumer frustration and that ultimately damages a business’s reputation,’ he added.

The ACMA highlights that marketing to recipients who do not want to receive your emails is not a successful business strategy.  If any of your email recipients are in Australia then it’s probably a great idea to sign up for the ACMA’s emarketing blog.

Action for commercial email breaches in New Zealand is detailed on the website of the Department of Internal Affairs, who manage enforcement of NZ’s UEM Act.

If you have any questions regarding the best practice management of your emarketing databases and mobile and email marketing programs, feel free to post them here and we will answer them here too – or if you prefer, email

It is always a good idea to send out re-engagement campaigns to your inactive subscribers every so often.

A re-engagement campaign generally means you send a re-opt in email to your inactive subscribers to see if you can get them to re-engage with you, (And more importantly to see if they want to re-engage with you)  The main thing is you don’t want to lose these subscribers right? So how do you re-connect with them?

There are effectively two types of re-engagement campaign:

1. Re-activation:
Send this campaign if your recipients are still opening your emails, but haven’t made any purchases or taken any actions.

2. Re-permission:
Send this campaign if your recipients are not engaged in any way and you want to confirm whether they still want to receive your emails.

These are both great ways to help build your reputation, keep your list attrition rate down, keep email subscriber engagement up, and keep your list up to date.

Click here to see some great examples of email campaigns that will get subscribers engaged and buying again.

But apart from running a re-engagement campaign, here are a few ways to increase engagement that you can do all the time:

1 Use preference centers
They allow subscribers to control and customise the content they receive, and they provide you with data which you can use to further tailor emails based on a recipient’s information and preferences. It allows you to give subscribers what they want, when they want it. It let’s the subscribers be in control, and when they have control, they are happy, and are more likely to engage. (Tip: Check out this post on using dynamic content to enhance email campaigns depending on subscribers preferences)

2 Include a feedback link in all your emails
Allowing your recipients to give you feedback establishes 2 way communication, and it allows you to hone your content based on the opinions you receive. For example, if you are a travel agent, send a welcome home email and ask the customer how their trip was.

3 Use good send settings
Consistently use a ‘friendly’ from email and from name.  Subscribers don’t open email from people they don’t recognise. And it’s also important to note that reputation and deliverability is in part based on having good send settings. And never use a no-reply address. Never. Click here to read a previous post about the importance of your from name.

4 Include an unsubscribe link
Always include a clear unsubscribe link in all emails you send out. (This is one of the criteria of CAN-SPAM so is a vital element of all emails) Here is a cartoon that we featured in a previous post, which sums up how subscribers can quickly go from happy to unsubscribe.

5  Use personalisation
The level of personalisation can vary depending on the sender and the type of campaign. Simply inserting their name in the email works well – people like that. However you can vary the level of personalisation and do much more with it, depending on how relevant and how effective it is for your brand and the particular campaign. Overall, personalisation has been proven to help with open rates, increase your reputation, and the subscribers appreciate it. Show they matter to you and that you ‘listen’. Check out our previous post on personalisation.

6 Include a safe senders link
Always include an ‘add me to your safe senders list’  link in all the emails you send out. This means recipients are more likely to add you to their safe senders list, so that you get delivered to their inbox, which in turn decreases your spam rate and increases your reputation.

Bottom Line:
Always create engaging messages that are based on your subscriber’s preferences.  Content that subscribers find valuable and helpful will always succeed, and emails that contain only marketing statements will always fail.

And remember – ‘Be wise – personalise!’

We say it with only a slight tongue in cheek – 100% of the emails you send that are not delivered will never sell anything.   So, since email-in-inbox is the start of everything – here they are – the top 5 deliverability myths de-mystified!

1. Thinking that sending legally compliant messages will protect you.
Not true! Legislation like the NZ UEM Act, and the USA’s CAN-SPAM is just the bare minimum threshold that you should adhere too.  We always say that if you are trying to hide behind fine print you are doing something wrong. Treat your database with respect by doing what you say you will do, increasing the relevance of your content to your subscribers, and working on all of your deliverability best practices to improve your reputation over time.

2. You think confirmed opt-ins wouldn’t click the ‘mark as spam’ or ‘add to junk folder’  button.
Not true! This action is viewed as a complaint by ISP’s and is taken really seriously by them.  If you have more than 1 in a 1000 of these ‘complaints’ you could see an impact on your email delivery.  Why do they do it?  It can be a quick way for subscribers to remove the email even if they have subscribed. A significant % of recipients do this rather than unsubscribing – one reason is they may not know the difference between the ‘spam’ and the ‘unsubscribe’ functions and not realise the effect it has on reputation.  We’ve seen reports that subscribers don’t want to ‘hurt your feelings’ by unsubscribing so they just sweep you out of the inbox.  For others hitting ‘spam’ is simply quicker than finding the unsubscribe button and going through that process.

3. You think if you make it difficult to unsubscribe that you will stop people unsubscribing.
Not true! It only makes people flag your email as spam (as in 2. above) if they don’t want your email, rather than searching for your unsubscribe link. Best practice is to have a clearly visible and simple unsubscribe link in all your emails, and allow subscribers to simply and easily opt out and don’t give them any reason to complain.  We recommend they are in the top and the bottom of most email campaigns, and prefer a one click instant unsubscribe method on our own clients emails.

4. ‘Free’ ‘Deal’ and ‘CAPITAL’ words instantly flag your email as spam.
Not true! Certain words aren’t great for sure, but they won’t do this if they are relevant and effective in the context of your campaign. Deliverability is measured on many factors, and these combined determine the reputation. So words such as ‘deal’! and ‘free’! used well in the right context will do no harm.  These days, most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) filter based on reputation, so content plays a much smaller role in that filtering decision. If you have a good reputation, it will usually override any content filter being used, and your mail will be delivered appropriately. However, that doesn’t mean that your content is never a factor in determining inbox delivery.

5. Compelling content is the best way to create engagement and retain long term subscribers.
Not true! Sending good emails and good content will make your emails welcomed and useful to your audience.  However if you send just one  email too many, or any email at all if you’re ignoring other deliverability best practices, this will affect your reputation despite having the greatest content in the world.  Also on content -  balancing ‘image to text’ by having as much of your email as possible in text, while leaving images in a supporting role, is important both to the eye and to the deliverability of your email too.

Yes there are many more things you can do to enhance your reputation and optimise your deliverability, these are just the top 5 things that you should be aware of and take into consideration.   If there is one thing we can be sure of – there’s no sure thing.

If you’d like more detail on deliverability or if you’d like to discuss concerns or ideas, give us a call any time on +64 9 360 6463.


There is a new trend in town – there are is a variety of new services designed specifically for one purpose – to let your email subscribers let you go as quickly and easily as possible.

These days there is information overload, and now people are taking control of what content they receive and when – look at TV on demand, user collated news feeds and websites, and now people can cancel their email subscriptions at the click of a button.

For a start there is, and, and more services like this are popping up daily. Each removes unwanted email from recipients inbox’s and gets subscribers off your email lists.

Take a look at how easy it is for someone to not only unsubscribe from your messages, but also delete everything you’ve ever sent them:


It is also interesting to note that in the service as shown in the service above, what is shown in the last email you sent the subscriber and who it’s from. Which means that in addition to sending email that’s relevant, timely, targeted, and valuable, you now have to have subject lines and from names that are consistent, clear, and memorable so that subscribers don’t mistake you for someone else in these mass unsubscribe services – or not recognise you at all and delete you!

And on that note, another thing that’s important is email frequency. Services like this make it so easy to unsubscribe that if a subscriber doesn’t remember you, they will likely just unsubscribe. So as well as having a consistent from name and memorable subject line, consider sending email more frequently so that people instantly recognise you and that you are ‘on their minds’ If you mail monthly, as we do, perhaps look to increase that to weekly for example. You really just want to be recent and memorable – even better if you can be ‘in the inner circle’ of the subscribers inbox.

And besides all of the above points, be valuable. This may seem obvious, but if you want to keep your subscribers, and even better if you want to keep your list going and growing, then spend as much time on your email campaigns as you do social media, advertising, and other avenues for marketing. And make sure you are providing valuable content. Give your subscribers a reason why they want to get your email. What do you give them that no-one else does? Your subscribers are all looking for a reason to leave and clear their inboxes, and more and more are using services like Unsubscribr to do so – so give your subscribers a reason to stay.

We have written about unsubscribing many times on this GetSmart blog – here is one, and links to others for you to look, learn and share!   Thanks so much!



Had an email sent through yesterday from my friend bwagy who’d been frustrated by a newsletter he couldn’t unsubscribe from.

The email, from a legitimate well-known marketing company, didn’t have an unsubscribe link on the bottom,  it said this at the top:

So, he clicked through to opt-out – but came to this screen, otherwise known as the old login brick wall:

But he didn’t know his password, so he hit ‘junk’ and hoped he wouldn’t see the email again.   Next month, the email arrived in the inbox again.  This is likely to be because the email was sent off a range of IP addresses, and it was from a different one this time, that’s pretty common for smaller databases/senders.

But he still didn’t know his password.  So he clicked Reset it.

The password email never came, or so he thought.  Next day, he told me aha! found it in his junk folder.  Now he could login, change his details, and get off the list. But he’s left frustrated and a bit cross at the messy ‘break up’, palpably colouring the way he feels about the brand.

Moral of the story: unless you have defensible, private information stored in your clients profiles, don’t make them login to update their communication preferences.  Either use a token to log them right on in there, or chuck that login on the fire, and instigate a quick, one click failsafe unsubscribe – click, you are off.  Made a mistake? okay, click to resubscribe.

In marketing it’s so smart not to burn bridges, and when it’s over, you need to let them go.

There  are more comprehensive posts on how to manage unsubscribes here:

4 Tips to improve and minimise email unsubscribes

Unsubscribe don’t send hate mail

Happy to unsubscribe in 30 steps…

Questions? Examples?  Opinions?  Post a comment or fire them over to our team at Jericho.

The unsubscribe link is a critical part of your relationship with your email reader, and providing one that works is required by law.  Here are 4 things about the unsusbcribe process that you need to keep in mind as you manage your email marketing program:

  1. The Lowdown
  2. The Experience
  3. The Consequence
  4. The Obvious

The Lowdown

Unsubscribing is a nice, simple, clean way for your recipients to control the flow of information into their inbox.  You want people to use your unsubscribe link because the alternatives (delete, ignore, email purgatory, or ‘Mark as Spam’ inbox tools) can affect your bank balance, your sender reputation, and your brand and word of mouth.  To a business, an unsubscribe might cost thousands of dollars or more in loss of the chance to build a relationship with, and extract revenue from that human.  We have written about this before, but the recent six-figure fines at Virgin has prompted another post today. Previous posts include some great stuff, so if you missed them: Unsubscribe don’t send hate mail. Happy to unsubscribe in 30 steps… Subscribe yourself, share with your network (SWYN) and other missed opportunities. Unsubscribe – a quick and painless death?

Legally, the ‘spam law’ in New Zealand, Australia, the EU, Canada, the USA and more, states clearly that your unsubscribe method must work, be free, and be honoured within a few days (5 days in NZ and AU, 10 days for CAN-SPAM).

The Experience – how users see your unsubscribe

People unsubscribe because they can.  How the process works will be important to whether or not they call you next time they are in the market for your services.  A difficult unsubscribe process can be annoying, infuriating, and illegal.   There are three common scenarios.  I’d love your comments, and why.

a) Click to Unsubscribe
Most important – there should be no doubt what you need to do, and whether or not you have done it.  Practising what we preach, we were adamant that our SmartmailPro platform behave in a way that is extremely clear.  One click on the link in the email and you see this message: Success!  Next, it shows the email address you have unsusbcribed, we all have multiple addresses and sometime you’ll surprise even yourself with which you are signed up with, to what.

SmartMailPro Unsubscribe page

Then you can add a reason if you like, resubscribe if it was an error, or change your other subscriptions.

Usually found at the bottom of an email, we believe that the link should also be at the top of the email.  (Sometimes this link is placed in the side bar which is uncommon and therefore bad.)

b) Phone, email to unsubscribe.
It surprises many of our clients to hear that they have to motnior inboxes and instruct CS staff in how to action unsusbcribes – if someone calls to unsusbcribe, can your staff tell them how to, or better yet, do it for them?

c) Log in to your account to ‘update your preferences’.
If you want people to log in then you are providing a barrier to unsusbcribe, something that is anti-customer, if not illegal.  You can easily add the data to the link dynamically so that they are logged in with their details upon clicking the link.  Yes, if you are a bank, then you might not have any option but to require security steps, however it’s important to offer an alternate method of contact so they can change their preferences even if they can’t access their account for any reason.

The Consequence – Virgin Aussie fined six figures for their non-working unsubscribe recently posted news about the fines levied on Virgin three times now, for spamming.  He relays that in March last year Virgin Mobile was fined $22,000 dollars in Australia, and more recently in the UK, Virgin Media came under fire for spamming,  and in this the latest blow Virgin Blue Airlines has been fined AU$110,000 dollars for spamming by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.  Virgin Blue has since committed to overhauling its email marketing in response to alleged contraventions of Spam Act. How did they fall foul? The unsubscribe links in their email simply did not work.

The enforcable conditions for Virgin Blue are available on the ACMA website, download here.

The Obvious – make your emails relevant

Finally, it’s important to remember that when asked why they unsubscribed, a majority of people respond that ‘it just isn’t relevant to me’.  Making email personal and relevant is critical to keeping your recipients engaged in your content, and ultimately in your organisation.

Relevance can be improved dramatically with the following, which should be considerations in every campaign you plan: 
If you still have time you can read more here Six Truths for Email Marketing (one of our most popular posts ever) Evolve your Email Strategy and here Does your site deliver ?(ecommerce focus).   But perhaps the truth is still, as eMarketer reported last year, Email Marketers plan to get smart at some point just not right now!

In a Social Media-mad marketplace, newsletters are largely regarded as like so totally 1998.  They’re so not.  Your organisations clients deserve to be the first to know about what’s going on. Many of you will even have a contracted or legal obligation to keep them up to date.  Newsletters can add real value to your clients lives, and to your brand, and are right on the money for many audiences.  Do you want to improve yours?  Or maybe just start doing one, finally?  Here is the first of my top 3 no-brainer ways to make sure the YourCo newsletter is the one your recipient looks forward to, and acts on.  The next 2 will follow over the next week right here at the GetSmart Blog.

#1 – Spy

You should receive the email newsletters from at least 10 other businesses like yours,  from at least three different continents.  This is my number one advised, most obvious, most effective and least used tactic.


It’s likely YourCo has dozens, hundreds or thousands of  ‘twins’ around the world and many of them have Marketing Managers with more experience and bigger budgets than you do.  You are looking for two things.  The world’s best YourCo registration process, and the world’s best YourCo email program.  In a nutshell, you want to be aware of businesses just like yours in Europe, in North America, and in Asia-Pacific, and how they use email marketing in relation to:

  1. What they do that you should be doing
  2. What they do that you should not be doing

You will be looking to offer your readers really useful  regular mandatory sections of content, ‘guest star’ type content, promotions both one off and ongoing, so look out for all of this.


Block out 2 hours in your diary for a solid start. Write a list of your key known competitors and comparable businesses locally and around the world.  Who are the award winners, the ones you aspire to be?

Next, write out search terms that describe your business – i.e. ‘modern art museum’. Register a webmail account for the purpose, and note the login details so you can pass them on if you need to, as this is research on behalf of your role ( not you.

Power up, and start by searching for the businesses you know/admire/relate to.


Follow their registration process for email news.  Make notes about what you like and what you don’t.  Is it easy to find the registration form?   Is it in several places on the website?
Does it make you feel wanted/safe/special?  Does it clearly describe expectations and the benefits of joining? Do they ask too much or not enough information? Do they ask you to ‘submit’ or is the button labeled a more user friendly ‘join’ or ‘go’? Do they offer ‘preferences’ so you can pick your own areas of interest, frequency etc.? Do you receive an attractive and clever welcome email?


As the emails start to come in make a note of what works for you and what doesn’t it.  Make a list of things to check against.  Get your colleagues to rate them too.  What works for YourCo in tone, content, relevance, personalisation?  Which ones would you refer to others?  Why?

Screen & Purge

Keep an eye on which emails are helping you out and which are just a distraction. When you realise your are receiving something that is a total waste of time, then unsubscribe from it, noting the unsubscribe process too.  Is it easy?  Trustworthy?  Pleasant?  What might you like to use from the way it worked?

I doubt I need to do this but anyway: Let me disclaim here.  I’m not suggesting you plagerise, copy, rip off, or mirror other’s work.  Rather, spying is a great way to learn from others and apply the best of what you see to your own communications.  You can use spying to travel the world, do a competitive analysis and bring to YourCo’s customers the best or the rest.

Repeat this process every 6-12 months making sure you have the best, including newcomers.

Remember to keep it doable.  Get the basics right then review the whole inbox again when you have a particular idea to implement, such as a seasonal promotion, a list growth goal, or a competition to launch.

So that’s the 1st of this series of 3, the next 2 are on their way over the coming week.

Until then, comments always welcomed.

We’ve been talking to a couple of clients this week about their un-subscribers, and how to read reports on them, assess the cost or value to your business, and act to effect the churn through your database. I will write on this more in another post soon. For now, it’s clear that losing a subscriber is usually losing a customer, and if that customer who likely (either directly or indirectly) makes you $200 or $2000 or $20000 per year then you need to do your best to stop them clicking the ‘eject’ button at the bottom of your emails!

Q. Why do you unsub from something?
A. Because it’s not relevant, or doesn’t meet your expectation. A Jupiter Research study found 53 percent of email users said they unsubscribe when the content doesn’t interest them.
Once you have the strategy of what your email is to achieve for your business, then state the benefits very clearly and remember the golden email rules: Personal, Relevant, Anticipated.

In our daily work we find another bunch who unsubscribe when they can’t change their profile… if you don’t allow your recipients to change their own email address they will unsubscribe even if all they actually want to do is tell you they have a new addy. You can check your unsub reports and read the comments – this is really common.

Next is unhappiness with message frequency. Calculate the ideal frequency with a formula that includes:
how central to their life are your products and services?
how often do they buy from you?
how much are you willing to invest to make this great?
how good is your content?
Then set the frequency and stick to it like glue. You can blow years of loyalty by caving to temptation or sales pressure by sending two messages in a day or a week, if your readers like to see you once a month, each month, like clockwork.
Allow your recipients to update their own preferences! If you don’t you will be losing money, without a doubt.

To summarise: The most common use of the Internet is email of course. If you don’t want an email any more you can choose to delete, ignore or unsubscribe. Deleting them is easy, and ignoring them is pretty straightforward. Unsubscribes are great because they are far more visible to you than the other two – so this week get out your calculator and work out how much a customer makes you, how much it costs to lose one, and how you can let them tell you what they want when – and then knock yourself out making a plan to give it to them.