How easy is it to unsubscribe from email marketing?

Marketing, User experience

We have all received spam emails at some point. Maybe they’re emails with irrelevant content, newsletters you don’t remember signing up to, or simply companies sending you marketing too frequently. Either way these unwanted emails can start to become annoying, easily fill up your inbox and contribute to a negative perception of a particular brand.

The Spam Act 2003 states that every commercial email must contain a functional ‘unsubscribe’ mechanism that the recipient can use to opt-out of such messages. But just how easy do companies make it for users to unsubscribe from their mailing lists and how does this impact the overall user experience?

We’re investigating to see how e-commerce companies present their unsubscribe links, how functional they are, and how easy the whole process is.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters

Bare Minerals

Bare Minerals makes it very clear how to opt out of their email marketing. The link is presented at the bottom of the email, has plenty of white space around it, and actually looks clickable.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Bare Minerals

Their landing page has no clutter and is straight to the point.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Bare Minerals 2

Homebase

Homebase has a lot of small print at the bottom of their emails causing the user to hunt for the unsubscribe link.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Homebase

There is an input box on their landing page which implies the content within it can be edited which is a little confusing because it can’t. Nonetheless, the unsubscribe functionality works fine.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Homebase 2

Homebase has tried to re-engage users. Their landing page is minimal and features links to their home page and store locations, and once the unsubscribe button has been clicked the user is offered the chance to sign up again. We’re not sure this is entirely necessary. How many users could accidentally click on an unsubscribe link in an email and also click on the corresponding unsubscribe button all unintentionally?

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Homebase 3

Zavvi

Zavvi presents their unsubscribe link at the bottom of their emails.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Zavvi

Once clicked the user is immediately unsubscribed from their mailing list within any further action required. This process is very quick and efficient.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Zavvi 2

However, as the unsubscribe button is right next to a link to ‘Add to safe senders list’, we wonder how many users have accidentally clicked on the wrong button and immediately caused the opposite effect they had intended. This will be more of an issue for those reading the email on their mobiles.

Groupon

Groupon’s email is too long so it’s shortened when viewing in Google Mail.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Groupon

Once the user can see the email in its entirety, there’s no obvious unsubscribe button. The text reads “you can always unsubscribe with one click” with the link only becoming apparent when the user hovers over “one click”.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Groupon 2

Once users click through they are immediately unsubscribed from the marketing emails. However, users are also encouraged to re-sign up or opt into other marketing emails, which, like Homebase, is not the most logical action to push to users at this stage.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Groupon 3

Victoria’s Secret

Victoria’s Secret could do with breaking up their text to give it some breathing room, and adjusting their line height to allow for easier reading.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Victoria's Secret

Their landing page is designed to convince users to change their mind. Here the first option is to receive fewer marketing emails and they even state how many the user would receive per week, whilst the second option is to unsubscribe. They ask the user to manually input their email address which could have easily been filled in automatically. Finally, they have included the website’s full navigational menu at the top of the page, which features a promotional banner at the top, to distract the user from their task and encourage them to abandon the page to shop the site.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Victoria's Secret 2

Amazon Local

Like Groupon, Google Mail clips Amazon Local’s email as it’s too long. This presents the user with an additional step just to see the unsubscribe link. Even then, Amazon Local’s call to action is somewhat badly worded, and it’s only obvious that the word “unsubscribe” is a link because it’s in a different colour.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Amazon Local

That said, once a user clicks through and unsubscribes they are automatically presented with a feedback form which is great for understanding their user’s needs.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Amazon Local

Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley has a lot of small print, but helpfully the unsubscribe link stands out when the text is scanned.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Laura Ashley

The landing page is branded but free from distractions and the input box is automatically filled in with the user’s email address.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Laura Ashley 2

Travel Zoo

Travel Zoo’s unsubscribe link is clear and easy to find at the bottom of their emails.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Travel Zoo

The options to “Manage subscriptions” and “Unsubscribe” take the user through to the same landing page where they are asked to manually input their email address.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Travel Zoo 2

Users are then taken through to an unnecessarily complicated second page where they have to untick all the checkboxes to unsubscribe from marketing emails. The whole process results in a frustrating user experience.

Unsubscribing from email newsletters: E-commerce sites - Travel Zoo 3

In conclusion…

It’s understandable that e-commerce companies don’t want to make it the primary goal of users to unsubscribe. Yet, if a user wishes to do so, making it a difficult process is only going to reflect badly on the brand and create a bad user experience.

We’ve found that the call to action text in the emails varies amongst companies. Some simply use a variant of “click here to unsubscribe”, whereas others prefer to disguise it under the term “manage your subscriptions”. Similarly, some make the word “unsubscribe” the clickable item where it is underlined or a different colour, whereas others make users hover over the text to hunt for the link.

Whilst several of the companies we looked at did attempt to re-engage users, only one of them tried to understand the rationale behind a user’s wish to opt-out. Two of them suggested users sign-up again, assuming that they had unsubscribed in error. Granted, it’s not a good idea to ask users these sorts of questions before they are able to unsubscribe to prevent frustration, but presenting this optionally alongside or afterwards is wise. Users at this point are likely to want to air their concerns and experience they’ve had with the company so the lack of any comment boxes or checkboxes is a missed opportunity to listen to their users, gain some useful feedback and improve their marketing.

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