Instant removal with SafeUnsubscribe™

Constant Contact is quite a large newsletter provider. Their emails always have the footer text “Instant removal with SafeUnsubscribe™. I particularly like the TM, indicating a registered trademark that has been requested, but not yet granted. According to the records this trademark was requested in 2002 and abandoned in 2003. They still use it like that, 10 years later. Seems a rather big oversight, but not such a big deal.

However, I do object to the words “instant removal”. This is incorrect. I have been receiving spam recently from Constant Contact clients (yes, it happens to all of us newsletter providers), and I clicked the link. However, I was not instantly removed. Instead, I had to enter my email address. In many cases, I may not know the address I have been subscribed with. Not only that, as I pointed out in previous posts, having to do another action is not instant, and takes too much of my time. Instead, I mark it spam, and hope that my filters learn to get rid of these messages next time.

Instead, the phpList option “Jump Off” will indeed instantly remove the subscriber from the database. It is quite debatable whether that’s a good thing or not. From a recipient of spam point of view, it’s brilliant. Just the one click, and you’re out. However, as recently discussed on the ECF mailinglist this may cause undesired unsubscribes. For example, if a subscriber forwards the message to someone else, and the colleague clicks the unsubscribe link. That one can be avoided by using the “Forward” feature of phpList (and presumably other systems), which will not include the unsubscribe link. The other one would be when the message (accidentally) is posted on some website, and a Search Engine Crawler follows it. The best way to avoid that, is to either ensure the message is not posted, or to add a “nofollow” tag to the link.

In any case, phpList will send one final message to inform about the unsubscription. The idea here is that there is a final human verification that the unsubscription was really intentional.


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