How One-Click Unsubscribes Could Destroy Your Email Marketing.png

One-click unsubscribe links could be destroying your email marketing list, especially if you’re a B2B marketer.

By one-click unsubscribe, I mean any email marketing/marketing automation platform which allows a subscriber to opt out simply by clicking a link in the email. When they get to the landing page, they’re already unsubscribed with no additional effort required on their part, no button to confirm that they meant to do it, etc.

On the surface, this seems like a good thing – consumer-friendly, easy for the user. Let’s dig deeper into the problem.

How Security Broke One-Click Unsubscribe

Why is one-click unsubscribe so bad for our email marketing efforts?

Consider what the average anti-spam network security server does. Here’s a brief feature list of one of the market-leading server appliances:

Email security

What does this server appliance do? By scanning email for malware, hijacked links, and other unsavory hacking techniques in email messages, this appliance helps keep users safe. That’s a good thing.

However, in order to scan for those hacks, the server appliance automatically clicks on every image and link in the email before it gets to us, to see if the link leads to a hacked web page or script.

If our email unsubscribe is one-click, then security servers like this automatically unsubscribe our subscribers.


Here’s an additional twist. Suppose we have a one-click unsubscribe link in our email message and one of our loyal readers forwards it to a friend at a different company. Their security appliance clicks on the link. Now our loyal reader is unsubscribed – and they have no idea that it’s happened.

What Should We Use Instead?

If your email service provider/marketing automation provider offers one-click unsubscribe as a feature, turn it off. The best practice is to direct unsubscribing users to a landing page where they confirm that yes, they wanted to unsubscribe. In my weekly email newsletter, I send unsubscribing users to a page where they can choose to either end their subscription or change email addresses. Either way, they must affirm their choice to unsubscribe.

If your email service provider/marketing automation provider doesn’t offer the option of turning off one-click unsubscribe, change vendors. This mechanism is making your job more difficult.

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