Make it Easy to Unsubscribe from your Email List

I subscribe to many different blogs, podcasts, websites and services and because of this I receive a lot of email. On an average day I receive between 200-300 emails from these services and without proper filtering it would become unmanageable extremely quick.

Every few months I have to go through and cull these lists, unsubscribing from sites I no longer want to receive mail from. This brings me to an important tip for web developers out there: Make your email lists easy to unsubscribe from.

Here are a few reasons why:

I May Consider Subscribing in the Future

I unsubscribe for three reasons: too many updates, irrelevant content or spammy content. If this is a service I like I’ll often come back after a few months to see if reasons 1 or 2 have been fixed. If you make it hard for me to unsubscribe I get frustrated, when I get frustrated I can promise that I’ll never subscribe again.

Making it easy for me to unsubscribe allows me to potentially subscribe in the future without worrying about a tedious unsubscribe.

I Won’t Complain to my Friends

If you make me jump through hoops to simply unsubscribe from your emails I will almost always talk about it to at least one other developer. I’ll be saying things such as “This is so frustrating.” or “I definitely will never use again.” If you make it easy, I unsubscribe and forget about it.

I’m Less Likely to Mark it as Spam

Of all the points above I think this is the most important. For most of my emails addresses I use Gmail. When users start marking messages as spam Gmail listens and will start filtering out similar messages.

This means if you make it hard enough for me to unsubscribe I’ll start marking all of your messages as spam. If enough users start doing this you could potentially be blacklisted, hurting your chances of other people seeing your messages.


I understand why some companies make it hard for their users to unsubscribe. More emails sent out equals more money in the bank. Unfortunately there are a lot of downsides to making it difficult for your users and I think those downsides greatly out weigh the small possibility of making money off of the disgruntled user.

  • Bo

    Gmail (at least the old look) has a feature called “create a filter” that allows you to ignore emails from a given address. That’s what I always use; I don’t even bother trying to look for unsubscribe links. As we speak, I have several dozen websites happily spamming away at my address, not knowing I’m not seeing any of it. Recommended.

    • Adam

      I use filters extensively but never thought of just ignoring email adresses. I still think I would hit spam button, mainly because it takes less time than setting up a filter.