Email newsletters are a great way to stay in contact with your users and audience, but the experiences most people have are usually hit or miss. Having been recently bombarded by emails I've subscribed to over the years, I decided it was time to unsubscribe from a few to help clear my inbox. Boy did that suck!
How It Went Down
I needed to get rid of some emails, so naturally I started looking for the unsubscribe links. Those were hard enough to find, but once I did, I was on my way. It was the next step that was so outrageous that I nearly flipped my lid: some companies take as long as 10 days to process your request to unsubscribe.
Here's a look at some of the unsubscribe notifications I received:
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble lacks personality—it feels cold and doesn't take care of me. Who's firstname.lastname@example.org? Use some emotion and appeal to me with just "you."
"Until the request has been processed, you may still receive promotional email messages." How weak is that? Best Buy, and others, knowingly uses this window to their advantage: they can cram emails down your throat for the next 10 days and you can't do anything about it. It's unfair and criminal, at best.
Holy moly! That's a lot to read, and I don't even know where to start. eBay still takes 10 days to unsubscribe, but the biggest loss on this page is in the copy and messaging. Ice cold, baby.
What People Want
So how is this even possible? The only reason I can think of is that these people have 10s if not 100s of thousands of sign ups for their newsletter campaigns, and they need to do things in batches. Whatever the reason, nobody is going to care. I don't care, you don't care, and your Average Joe doesn't care.
People want instant gratification. We want what we want, and we want it now. We need it now. For email newsletters, an immediate unsubscribe is the best way to give people just that.
What you have to realize is that by making the unsubscribe process difficult, you're leaving a bad taste in your customers' mouths. They are already at odds about leaving you for whatever reason, so don't make it that much harder on them. Let customers go with a smile on their face, or least keep the frown off it by making things easier.
So Who's Nailed It?
The team over at Campaign Monitor have nailed the email campaign experience, from start to finish. We use Campaign Monitor every month for our own ZURBnews, and recommend it regularly to our clients.
Here's a look at the success page for Campaign Monitor's unsubscribe feature:
It provides instant gratification, is friendly and easy to look at, and accounts for errors by offering users the immediate ability to sign up again. It fits with the start up mentality, a core audience for Campaign Monitor, and is a sure hit for us at ZURB.
Have any email or newsletter horrors to tell? Let them be heard in the comments!