Like almost everything else about email marketing, some folks have *strong opinions* about the format, length, and location of your unsubscribe links.

My advice is always the same, and always simple. Don’t make it difficult to unsubscribe. This applies to both helping people find the unsubscribe link in an email, and also the workflow of the unsubscribe page.

There are plenty of good reasons to make unsubscribing easy, and literally zero good reasons to make it hard.

If someone decides they no longer want to receive your emails, they have two options. They can find and click on the unsubscribe link, or they can press the spam button. If it’s difficult to figure out where the unsubscribe link is, hitting the spam button becomes the easier option.

Make the unsubscribe block in your email as simple as possible. Tell them what email address the message was sent to (in case they meant to sign up with a personal email instead of work email, or some such). Tell them who you are — briefly — if you’d like. Then give them an unsubscribe link that is clear and styled to look like a link.

Here’s an example:

This email was sent to [email protected].
People Who Hold the Door for You for America is a non-profit dedicated to a more polite society. Click here to unsubscribe.

That’s it. That’s all you need. If someone’s looking at your unsubscribe text, it’s very unlikely they are actually looking for a contribute link (especially because you have a donate button right above it). They probably also aren’t excited to have to scroll down 400 pixels of white space, read about the history of your organization, and then try to figure out which non-bolded, non-colored, non-underlined word is the unsubscribe link.

“But Dave, we tested this,” you say, “and placing an unhighlighted unsubscribe link within the full text of the Declaration of Independence did not have a statistically significant impact on deliverability!”

Ah, ha. This falls into the trap of just because you can test something doesn’t mean you should! Look, like everyone else, I understand you want to keep your unsubscribe rates low. But that starts and ends with good content, transparency about how and why people are receiving your emails, and clear calls to action.

People are receiving more and more email, and in the advocacy and campaign space, the pace and volume have been increasing at an alarming rate. We need to remember to respect people’s inboxes. For many of the people on your list — email is the only way they interact with you, and how you communicate with them shapes their entire perception of you, and possibly of other organizations that are similar.

So instead of pushing the envelope in making the unsubscribe process as painful as possible, focus on making people feel like people. Treat them like you would someone you’d expect to meet face-to-face one day. You wouldn’t say to someone at a party, “You have to keep hearing me yell things at you unless you find your way out of this dark maze.”