June 4, 2014
4 Lessons from the Best Unsubscribe Messages Ever

Unsubscribes — no marketer wants to see them. But while you may see it as goodbye, these companies see it as another chance to say hello.

To many of us marketers, “unsubscribe” is the end of the road. Your prospect is cutting ties, calling it quits. She doesn’t want to hear from you anymore. Game over. It’s time to move on.

But does it really have to be the end? Are you really ready to let your prospects walk away so easily?

Surprisingly, many companies are. They never stop to think that maybe, just maybe it’s not them (in fact, they’re pretty likeable!), it’s not the product (it could actually be really useful), it’s not even the message (totally preaching to the choir). Maybe it’s just that the last thing the prospect needs is another email in their inbox every single day. They just aren’t looking for that level of commitment.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. Or that they wouldn’t be open to engaging with you another way.

Great marketers don’t see “unsubscribe” as the end, they see it as what it really is: another opportunity to engage and get feedback. In fact, aside from the moment they first subscribe/click download/opt in, unsubscribing may ironically be the moment when your audience is most primed and open to receiving a message from you.

True, the fact that they have actively expressed a desire to stop hearing from you poses some limitations. Admittedly, you’re facing a bit of an uphill battle. And no, you may not be able to win them over and court them back. But to ignore the opportunity to give your audience more options, to get feedback from them, or, at the very least, to showcase your brand personality and leave one last memorable impression — that’s a big mistake.

Here are four lessons in optimizing your unsubscribe message with examples-in-action from some of the best.

How to Optimize Your Unsubscribe Message: 4 Tips

1) Don’t take it personally

It can be easy to see unsubscribes as a rejection of your product, your company, or even your own personal hard work. Don’t. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. The faster you get past the initial disappointment, the faster you can start focusing of making the most of the situation.

2) Give your audience other options

Before you let your soon-to-be-former subscribers walk out that door, offer them the option to take control and allow you to continue communicating on their terms. After all, while an email a day or every week may be a bit much, they might be open to a lesser frequency, or to engaging via a different channel, altogether. If possible, you can also give them the option to narrow down outreach by topic or category.

A great example comes from Fab:

Thanks MakerBlock for the screenshot.

3) Ask for feedback

In addition to giving your readers more options, don’t shy away from asking them for a little something, as well. Not everyone will provide you with valuable feedback, but you might be surprised by how many readers have something constructive to share.

AppSumo’s unsubscribe message does a great job of offering options, asking for feedback, and even sneaking in a bit of humor — all while keeping it clear and concise.

Thanks to Nick O’Neill for the screenshot.

4) Leave a lasting impression

Last but not least, don’t pass up the opportunity to show your prospects one more time how you’re different and what makes you you. As these two legendary examples from GroupOn and HubSpot show, a little personality and humor can go a long way toward establishing a genuine connection with your audience and building awareness (maybe even a little notoriety) for your brand. Of course, you want to make sure it aligns with the rest of your messaging and stays true to your brand. Don’t try to force it, but don’t be afraid to be yourself, either.

GroupOn’s Unsubscribe Page

HubSpot’s Unsubscribe Page

Are there any great unsubscribe messages you’ve come across or best practices you can share?

Jonathan Crowe is the Managing Editor at OpenView Venture Partners. You can find this post and more on the OpenView blog located here.  You can also follow Jonathan on Twitter @jonathanscrowe.