Over the past few weeks, I’ve become a bit of an unsubscribe connoisseur. Niche, I know. Rather than merely archiving unwanted emails as I’m wont to do, I made it my mission to permanently reduce the clutter in my inbox.
The problem is that users and website owners view the unsubscribe link differently. To the user, it’s a way to give their bloated inbox a much needed reprieve. The people sending the emails, however, tend to view it as a desperate last chance to retain the user. These two goals tend to clash.
Unsubscribe Practices I Hate
During my quest to vanquish unwanted newsletters and emails from my inbox, I made a list of things no unsubscribe process should ever do.
- Don’t send a confirmation email. There is no reason to send an email confirming the address was unsubscribed. Users unsubscribe because they want fewer emails, not more.
- Don’t make the user think. The user should only have to click the unsubscribe link in the email. They shouldn’t have to confirm, or select an option in a form.
- Don’t have too many buttons. When people see a “call to action”, they tend to click it. Even if that call to action comes in the form of a giant red “Resubscribe!” button. People don’t read and they don’t think — they just click the biggest thing on their screen.
- Don’t make the user log in. You sent them an email, so you already know their email address. That’s all you need. Same goes for unsubscribe pages that make the user enter in their email address.
- Don’t make the user cancel their account. If a user wants to stop receiving non-critical emails, let them. For example, in order to unsubscribe from the Amazon Student newsletter, you need to cancel your account.
- Don’t make a user edit their preferences. Nobody wants to dig through a preferences page so they can uncheck options. Just unsubscribe them.
- Don’t use confusing logic. A user is asking to unsubscribe, so asking them “yes” or “no” is confusing. Does checking a box mean I want to unsubscribe or that I want to get this email?
How We Now Do It On AMO
AMO’s unsubscribe process needed a refresh. So, I set out to make it as pain free for the user as possible. It seems silly to put much thought into a tool that makes it easier for users to leave, however we wanted to get it right.
On every email we send out, there will be a footer that tells you why you’re receiving the email. For example, “You received this email because an add-on developer replied to one of your reviews”.
You have two options on how you want to unsubscribe. You can unsubscribe from that particular topic, or you can unsubscribe from all emails from us. Both options take you to a clutter free page that tells you what topics you were unsubscribed from, and gives you a small link to your preferences page so that you can re-enable anything you mistakenly unsubscribed from.
Here’s some random things about our new unsubscribe:
- We include a token for each unsubscribe link. This means you don’t have to be logged in to unsubscribe, however you also don’t have to worry about someone else unsubscribing you.
- There’s an “unsubscribe from all” link on the preferences page. We don’t want you tiring out your click finger, now, do we? You need that finger to download add-ons.
- Email topics are split into two separate sections — regular users and add-on developers.
- You can reply to all emails! Our emails are sent from the appropriate email address, so feel free to hit the reply button.
One thing most sites do wrong is how they manage new topics. Let’s say you unsubscribe to the five different types of emails we currently send. Next week, however, we add a new type of email. Odds are you don’t want to get that, since you’ve already unsubscribed to the rest. So, we do our best on AMO to not send you emails for new topics if we think you wouldn’t be interested.
Additionally, most users spend mere seconds on their edit profile page and instantly forget it as soon as they leave. So, we add a “new” indicator to types of emails that are new since the last time the user updated their preferences.
We don’t want you to go; however if you must? Hopefully unsubscribing is so painless you don’t even notice it.
Note: These updates will be rolled out over the next few weeks. Not all features mentioned here are currently available for all users right away.