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Glorify your unsubscribe processes to boost your reputation!

Just like the management of the reply address, the unsubscribe process is sometimes chaotic and seriously damages the reputation of the advertisers (even if some brands manage it very well). We prefer to hide our unsubscribe, usually at the end of the e-mail in a small font with a color close to the background color of the e-mail and for the most vicious of you without an underline bar. Beyond making me smile, it hides a feeling of uneasiness towards unsubscribing. And yet, it will help you both to preserve your "good" reputation and to maintain a good hygiene of your database. In this article, we're going to try to change your mind and make you want to invest some time to optimize all your unsubscribe processes... Let's go 🙂

What are the processes for handling unsubscribes?

The purpose of unsubscribing is so that a person can stop communicating with an advertiser at any time he or she wants.

There are several systems to manage an unsubscription, I propose to list them and to see what each one corresponds to:

The unsubscribe link: the classic

This is the most well known process that is very strongly recommended to use. It consists of placing a link at the bottom and/or top of your e-mails that will allow, in one or two clicks, a user to easily unsubscribe from your communications. This unsubscription process can be direct or can be done via an unsubscription form.

Unsubscribe link at the bottom of an e-mail from Les Echos - Le Parisien Group
Unsubscribe link at the bottom of an e-mail from Les Echos - Le Parisien Group

The "List-Unsubscribe" header: the unknown

This unsubscribe process is not well known by advertisers or even users. You can find this process in the SMTP header of an email (if it has been set up) and it offers the possibility to set up two unsubscribe methods: either via a "mailto" (cf. An email address), or via a direct unsubscribe link (cf. It will not have to refer to the form but will have to unsubscribe the person directly). Some ISPs/Webmails (Gmail, Outlook & SFR) use it to give their users a way to unsubscribe from your communications.

The List-unsubscribe header of an email received from the brand "Elle" with only one unsubscribe method:


And the display in Gmail with the notion "Unsubscribe" (note here that it will be necessary to have a good reputation with Gmail for this process to be visible to the user) :

Using List-unsubscribe with Gmail

The feedback loop: false unsubscribe

This process is not really an unsubscribe link but can be a way to finally unsubscribe even if it will have a direct impact on your reputation. As a reminder, this process used by some Webmails such as Outlook, Yahoo & La Poste, allows the advertiser (when the process is set up - contact your router to find out if this is the case) to directly quarantine a user who will have clicked on the "spam" button of his email.

Process for unsubscribing from a feedback loop
Process for unsubscribing from a feedback loop

What are the best practices for managing unsubscribes?

I don't think I'll teach you much in this part but I'd rather remind you of the good practices to put in place in managing your unsubscribe.

BP #1: Have an unsubscribe link!

It may seem logical, but some advertisers still forget this!

Think before sending your campaign that this link is present at the top and/or bottom of your e-mail...

BMP #2: Have a visible unsubscribe link!

Here again, some advertisers try to hide it at all costs by trying to conceal it in several ways: removal of the underscore, color close to the background, writing in very small, ...

Highlight it, the objective is that it is clearly visible to anyone who does not want to receive your communications or no longer!

BMP #3: Have a working unsubscribe link!

How many times have I had advertisers call me in a hurry because they realized that the unsubscribe link was not working...

Remember to test all your unsubscribe processes to make sure they are all up and running.

BMP #4: Honor the unsubscribe as simply & quickly as possible!

Some advertisers may ask you to wait 72 hours before an unsubscribe request is processed and during this time they continue to send you commercial communications... Not cool!

Prefer a very fast and simple unsubscription: either in one step or in two steps and with an immediate unsubscription. Any frustration could lead to complaints and a very bad brand image...

BMP #5: Offer the possibility to resubscribe at any time!

It's not common but it can be useful. Put forward a re-subscription link (with a limited duration)! It may allow someone to finally go back... Who hasn't made a mistake?

BP N°6 : Know the reason for unsubscribing !

The little extra! Usually, we unsubscribe a person and then basta! Wouldn't it be interesting for you to know why a user unsubscribes?

Need help?

Reading content isn't everything. The best way is to talk to us.

Offer a small questionnaire (not mandatory) where the user can choose the reason for leaving! This will allow you to adjust your marketing plan by modifying your sending frequency and/or the types of content used...

BP N°7 : Put forward other channels !

Unfortunately a user unsubscribes from the email channel... Why not list all the channels where you are present so that he can keep an eye on you?

Why managing unsubscribes will boost your reputation?

It may seem absurd, but managing your users who no longer wish to receive your communications will allow you to boost your reputation!

Regular cleaning of your database!

A good management of your unsubscribe process will allow you to remove any user who no longer wishes to engage with you. This will improve your targeting, improve your reputation and therefore have a better database hygiene. When you know how important engagement is today (by the way, this is my next article on BR :p) on your reputation, this is not to be taken lightly. Especially because if your unsubscribe processes do not work or are not present, the user will not hesitate to sanction you with a complaint...

Better to unsubscribe than to complain!

There is a rule that we (myself and any consultant/deliverability manager) keep repeating: unsubscribes are better than complaints... We say this for a reason...

Unsubscribes will cause you to lose some addresses in your database while complaints will lead to blockages that will impact your reputation, the proper delivery of all your emails and consequently impact your turnover.

Thus, setting up well-crafted unsubscribe processes, will allow you to gain reputation (you discard any address that no longer wishes to receive your communications) and maximize your chances of avoiding complaints 🙂

To go further... The management of a preference center!

The preference center... it's the thing of the moment!

Its purpose? To prevent your users from unsubscribing from all your communications when they want to unsubscribe. You will therefore create an interface where they will be able to manage themselves which types of content they wish to subscribe/unsubscribe to. Is it complex to set up? Not necessarily, but it will require some thought!

Besides Badsender organizes a live on Youtube on the management of a "Preference Center April 22, 2021 with special guests!

Don't hesitate to book this date in your diaries 🙂


I hope this article will help you improve your unsubscribe process or make you realize that it is time to improve it! Be sure of one thing, you will have everything to gain by having a reliable and operational unsubscribe process! Your brand image depends on it too 🙂

Need help redesigning your unsubscribe? Want to set up a preference center but don't know where to start? Don't hesitate to ask us 🙂


Please feel free to like, comment, share this article! Any comments are welcome 🙂


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Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash


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