Stop your unsubscribers hitting the spam button

I’ve just read a cracking article from the incredibly talented and knowledgeable Remy Bergsma on his called  “Don’t hit the spam button when you actually just want to unsubscribe(12/12/2011), I was inspired to reply but as I was writing/gibbering it got a bit long so I moved it here. If you haven’t already, read it first then click through from the comments…

Aaaand you’re back! Glad you liked it and yes he has got a great way with words, better than me 🙂 …

My point is that often senders get inconvenienced that they are punished when they’ve done nothing wrong, “we can’t stop people hitting the spam button instead” I get told,

I beg to differ: The sender has more control than you may think…

The question that senders need to ask themselves is why would a recipient not be willing to make the effort to hit the unsubscribe link?

Much of the time it is not out of laziness but lack of trust. If someone has forgotten they asked for an email, and I mean actually filled out a form saying I want your emails, how can they forget that email?

  • Was it a sneaky opt-in when it was in the linked Ts and Cs?
  • Was it a forced opt-in when someone has to provide an address and opt-in to get their quote?
  • Was it a soft-opt-in where someone bought something and then just started to get emails?
  • Was it a corporate subscriber, where legally you don’t need permission but empathetically you’re digging a hole?
  • Has the brand not sent out an email for 2,6,12 months or even years?

None of it illegal, but all lacks empathy for the recipient and their experience of the brand and will attract spam button use.

If a recipient does not remember asking for an email or even giving the sending brand their address, why would they click any link – if they perceive it as spam they won’t want to let the spammer know that they exist, so they hit the spam button, which is why it is there.

If you’re worried about your rapport,  try to earn enough trust to at least get the opt-out rather than the spam in the preheader. If it is the first string of text in the email, it could also feature as the inbox snippet in Gmail and the iPhone to help people hitting spam before the open. Then once they do open, have an unsubscribe link in the top right, this way if someone’s mouse is heading for spam button it will also be close to the opt-out link. This can then not only lose you someone who is of little value to you but also save the negative effects to your inbox placement.

Ensure you have readable text at the top of the email and not a giant image, if they are likely to hit spam, loading the images is asking too much.

Try and personal message, being humble and open.

make the opt-out easy. If you are getting high complaint rates and your inbox placement is plummeting, push these people to the opt-out link, they are worthless to your ROI and are hammering your deliverability.

Be relevant, consistent, collect addresses openly and obviously, send a welcome email and keep an eye out for non-openers over time and try to re-engage them before they forget who you are.


edit 12/12/2011 16:53: Originally sourced from Loren McDonald’s G+ stream

3 thoughts on “Stop your unsubscribers hitting the spam button

  1. Remy: tnx Andy! Yeah I picked it up via @lorenmcdonald’s G+ stream – believed it deserved attention 🙂

    Andy: better check the @lorenmcdonald G+ stream then and share some link love there too


  2. Spam is spam. Doesn’t matter how you try to make it palatable. I report all spam, I don’t care how nice the spammer is


  3. Thanks Craig!
    While I see your point, spam very much is spam, this is not what these piece is about. This is about helping people who want to ‘unsubscribe’ use the unsubscribe button rather than the spam button.

    This is because ISPs consider the spam button as a complaint and they count against a sender’s ability to deliver emails to people who want and expect them.

    Spam is spam: don’t buys lists, don’t append lists & don’t scrape; don’t sell your list, don’t rent your list, only send people the content they have asked for and make sure it’s obviously from you.

    What do you class as spam?


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