Unsubscribes can feel like a punch in the face. And even if you follow every best practice in the book, there will always be some who opt-out. But the most frustrating part is not knowing why subscribers are leaving. There’s a very simple solution to that problem.

Ask them

Unsubscribe pages don’t have to be a dead end. Rather than stopping at “thanks for the memories”, this page is the perfect place to put a short survey to learn about potential weaknesses of your email marketing.

I made a quick example using the awesome Wufoo (most recently seen in our gallery). Wufoo makes it dead easy to create forms, as well as slick reports to get an overview of the responses.

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Notice that I’ve first confirmed that they have been unsubscribed, which is important. You can probably come up with a more appropriate survey for your specific list. To use a page like this, head into your ‘unsubscribe settings’ for your list, and you can define a URL that we will direct people to when they have been unsubscribed. For the overachievers among us, the API can be used for more advanced implementations.

A grain of salt

While you can learn a lot from the responses from your unsubscribers, you should of course not let this dictate your email strategy. Just because someone who unsubscribed thinks you emailed too often, doesn’t mean everyone who’s still on your list agrees. The feedback you gather here is a small part of the big picture.

More on the subject

While writing this, I ran across this recent blog post by Mark Brownlow about the insights your unsubscribes can provide. Well worth a read.

Do you have a clever example of getting more out of an unsubscribe page? We’d love to see it, so please leave a comment.

  • Anna Yeaman

    Hi Stig, recently added a link to Twitter on my unsubscribe page so people can still keep in touch if they wish…

    I don’t have a set up like above though, just the comment, “Tell me why my newsletter sucks” and an email and Twitter ID.

    @stylecampaign

  • Yari

    Mark’s article was excellent, good to see the cross-reference and keeping the topic of unsubscribes current (I found this post on Twitter).

  • Stig Morten Myre

    Cool Anna, I love the idea of offering an alternative way of staying in touch. Although when it comes to feedback on this specifically, you’d possible get more using a simple form (depending on how savvy your subscribers are).

    Yeah Yari, Mark’s blog is consistently brilliant. See the link at the bottom of his post for more articles on unsubscribes.

  • Finge

    Excellent tip. Actually implementet the exact same a while back. To my surprise people are actually taking the time to reply, and we have received a lot of usefull feedback. http://tinyurl.com/dlsvj5

  • Stig Morten Myre

    Great implementation Rolf Inge, with a good list of relevant alternatives.

    The link back to the sign up form is also a nice detail.

  • Chris

    Damn good idea. Just implemented something similar and look forward to seeing what kind of response we receive. Thanks.

  • Paul

    This is a great idea – I’m gona pinch it and use it – thanks!

  • Duane

    Great suggestion.

    Two other approaches I use are:
    1) If you have multiple email streams (e.g. I work with non-profits so they would include donations, campaigns, events) then you could provide a selective unsubscribe e.g. unsubscribe me from newsletters but not specific urgent asks

    2) Try to convert them to maintaining some relationship by saying something like ‘We respect your choice to unsubscribe, we’re just sorry you’ll miss all the great things we’ll be doing in the future. If you wish to subscribe to specific updates, do so below (or provide Twitter, Facebook, Feed links or other ways as suggested by others) and/or in a thank-you email something like ‘if you change your mind, click here’

  • gibbonweb

    I have some german clients – would be perfect if this could be localizable (same for the newletter archive, by the way!)

  • Vince

    It is a great idea, but just wish it was integrated within the CM application instead of using external resources that may one day not be around or we want to change to a different one for various reasons.

  • Al

    Reward them !
    Hi this is Al from Poker Nights. “We are a Boutique style FREE POKER league” operating in Hotels + Clubs throughout Melbourne..
    Our suggestion isto offer a subscriber who re-subscribes a ‘reward/ Prize’ should they choose to stay connected.

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