When you finally have managed to build up a list of people who want to receive your newsletter, there often seems to be some desire to hold on to them, no matter what. With this little anecdote, I will explain why this is not a good idea, and how a working unsubscribe link can be crucial to the quality of your newsletter.
All kinds of newsletters I receive are often caused by former clients for whom I installed phpList and/or the Webbler and where I entered my email address. Generally I did that to test it all worked as expected. In quite a few cases, I did that multiple times.
Occasionally I receive emails from these organisations, and in some cases they have moved to some new system. That’s understandable, on the internet things move on and requirements for systems change.
But then I notice that sometimes these systems are a regression on functionality.
With phpList, an important part of the functionality is that the URL to unsubscribe from the newsletter is personalised, so that there can be no confusion on what email needs to be removed from the database. So, a subscriber receiving a message can click the link and they will be removed.
Just now, I received an email from a former client, “Forced Entertainment”. The unsubscribe URL is as follows:
You have received this email because you are subscribed to our mailing list.
Select this link to Unsubscribe.
The link to unsubscribe is:
It’s a bit unnecessary that the tracking code for the Unsubscribe is duplicated, but there is nothing personal about this URL and when I land on the page, I have to enter my email address to unsubscribe. I use many different addresses, so I do not necessarily know which one is used for this newsletter. In fact, in this case, I am subscribed with an email address that I no longer use, and that is forwarded to me.
But, to make things worse, I have to enter a CAPTCHA code as well. This makes it very complicated to unsubscribe, and I decide it’s a waste of my time, because it takes more than 5 seconds. As a result, I simply mark it spam, and make sure that any further mails from this domain are considered bad behaviour. Instead, a correctly working unsubscribe link, which works and saves the unsubscriber time will dramatically decrease the likeliness of your domain being blocked for spam.
With phpList (download) you can make sure the Unsubscribe link always works. As it is Open Source, it can also be changed to not work, but the intention (and default) is that it will. With phpList Hosted the unsubscribe link is enforced to be in the campaign, and we will make sure it always works.