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How to Gain Conversions from Your Unsubscribe Page

Posted by Jeremy Smith on Mar 24, 2014 7:08:34 PM

Why Unsubscribe Pages Can Make You Millions

One of your biggest revenue sources is your email list. It’s priceless. Each of those email addresses and the people they represent is a potential customer — maybe even an existing customer.

Your emails are massive marketing power, and so is your "unsubscribe page."

Think of your subscriptions as money. You wouldn’t just let your money walk away without trying to get it back. That’s potentially what an unsubscriber does. It’s potential lost money.

I want to share with you some advice that can keep your money from walking away. Your unsubscribe page isn’t just a place for tired ex-customers to sign off and get lost. It’s actually a place where conversions can begin anew.

I’ll explain.

Make it easy to unsubscribe.

Are you surprised that I’d say this? Yes, I’m actually advising you to make the unsubscribe process as easy as you can.

I have the psychological backing on this one. Customers crave great transactions — yes, even if that transaction is the departure from your email list. American Express reports that customers will discontinue an intended transaction if they have a poor experience. Customer service matters even when they’re on the way out.

EpicMarketingFails reported the saga of their negative unsubscribe experience.

The first attempt was met with this inquisition:


They were challenged even when attempting the numbers and digits that no person should be expected to remember:


The story got nastier when they tried to unsubscribe by sending an email, to which they received this reply:


Here’s a brick and mortar parallel for sake of illustration. Let’s say you have this shop. Nice shop. A customer comes in, looks around, decides he’s done. And he wants to leave. So, he goes over to the door and pushes on it. It’s stuck.

What kind of experience is he going to leave with? Maybe a broken toe, a wounded ego, and a black spot in his mind about your store.

Jennifer Bourn makes the case for a clear unsubscribe option, writing that it “will help build trust.”

HubSpot’s Alexis Bradley asks about every newsletter subscription: “Is it easy to unsubscribe if I choose to in the future?” This is an important feature.


Screenshot from HubSpot

I recently unsubscribed from a newsletter. Here’s what it looked like in my email inbox:


When I clicked “unsubscribe from this list,” the next thing that appeared was this, in a new browser tab:


It was that easy. Just one click. I knew what I wanted, and I got it.

The most popular form of unsubscribe is the confirm model, in which you have to click one more time just to make sure. Here’s the unsubscribe page from a clothing store. It’s simple enough, and easy enough:


I should note that, while easy, neither of these attempted any of the  points that I discuss below.

Give it to your customer in the nicest way possible. Let them unsubscribe. They’re doing you a favor by keeping your click-through rates up, simplifying your email list, and improving your value. You’re doing them a favor by making it one easy click away.

Ask them to stay on a little longer.

One way to reduce unsubscribes is to strike a deal.

Tell them that if they stick with your emails for two weeks, you’ll give them a nice little gift like an e-book or a pair of jet skis or something.

Like this:

“If you want to unsubscribe, that’s fine. On the other hand, if you decide to stick with my emails for two weeks, I’ll give you a little gift — my book “How to Rap Like Jay Z in Thirty Days.” Of course, you can still unsubscribe after that, plus you can keep the book.”

By doing a time limit technique, you can qualify your email list, while also leaving them with a parting gift. They have your book. You’ve invested something in them, and hopefully, they still like you for it.

Remember, always give them a way to unsubscribe if that’s what they truly want.

Provide a free gift to the potential unsubscriber.

Your unsubscribers might be willing to stay on board if you give them something for free. That’s often how you got them to join your mailing list in the first place. Go ahead and try it again.

A free product, a free download, a free subscription, a nice discount — something to keep them onboard.

Here’s what it might sound like:

If you want to unsubscribe, that’s fine. I don’t want you to leave without getting something valuable, though. If you stay on the list, I’d like to give you free access to my portal, “The Insider’s Secrets to Getting Killer Real Estate Deals.” It’s yours free for thirty days, if you want. Just click here.

Of course, you can also opt out of the mailing list if you want.

There are other ways to spin this. Here’s how you might pitch a discount:

I’d love for you to stay on the mailing list so I can let you know when we’re having a big sale or something. To help that sale come a little sooner, I’m willing to share a coupon code just for you if you decide to stay on the mailing list. Get your code here. (Pssst:  Hats are on sale right now, so if you combine the sale with your coupon, you’re in for a killer deal.)

Or, you can unsubscribe now.

Never should you sound desperate, groveling, or dejected about their departure. Keep an upbeat tone, always give them a way out, and don’t be afraid of using a call to action.

Getting conversions from your unsubscribe page is often as simple as just asking for them. The coupon example above is a clear opportunity for the unsubscriber to convert and buy rather than just discontinue his or her subscription.

Encourage them to unsubscribe.

If you’re feeling really gutsy, inviting the unsubscribe is a perfectly legitimate option. Yes, this article is still about “how to gain conversions from your unsubscribe page,” and this point still supports my aim in this article.

By asking them to unsubscribe, you are giving them a choice, which 1) encourages interaction, 2) gives them a sense of control, and 3) lets them decide whether they’re going to be a good customer or a leechy distraction to your email marketing goals. Plus, you can actually snag some conversions from it!

Here’s one example of the unsubscribe encouragement, from D Bnonn Tennant:


Image from Unbounce.

Notice how the “you can leave” message was soft, conversational, and easy. Plus, there’s a P.S. upsell at the end! This savvy email marketer got a 39.8% open rate, a 15.4% click rate, with 10% of them clicking the offer link.

Gotta love the reverse psychology. You’re not interested in a bigger email list. You’re interested in a better email list. It feels good to purge. So, go ahead, ask ‘em to leave.

Ask them explicitly for a second chance.

Why beat around the bush about the fact that you really want them to stay on board? Just come right out and say it. You know that best policy thing? — “Honesty is the best policy.” — maybe it works.

One of HubSpot’s unsubscribe pages has this:


Their “second chance” is social. Your “second chance” might be something different. Your goal is not to annoy the crap out of them, but to give them an easy way back in.

Provide alternatives to unsubscribing.

You might just save them from unsubscribing if you give them an alternative. Here are some options of what alternatives might work:

  • Less frequent emails. Some people just don’t like to get a lot of emails, and many email marketers believe in distributing a daily email. If you have someone who is going to unsubscribe, maybe what she really wants is not to get so many emails. Provide that option in your unsubscribe page.

Here’s WPromote’s unsubscribe page:


It’s a fresh and creative way to retain the sort-of-kind-of customers who just want to get fewer emails.

  • Offer a different set of news or updates. If you’re marketing different products and services, maybe you can offer retargeting instead of just handing over the unsubscribe. Be careful with this one. You don’t want to overload them with options. When I tried to unsubscribe from Williams-Sonoma, I was a bit bothered by the option overload.


I’m cool with the whole “customize” thing, but what’s all this with the seven check boxes plus a couple radio options? And “agrarian products?” What?!

Put a call to action in there.

Your unsubscribe page is conversion potential. But you’re never going to get conversions unless you provide a way to do so.

Too often, I look at unsubscribe pages and they are bleak, dismal, stark, and corporate. There aren’t any nice graphics, personalized messages. Instead, it’s just a “Tell us why you’re leaving” or something similarly disturbing.

This is your chance — maybe your last one — to make a sale. So, please, put a call to action in there. You don’t have anything to lose with a tasteful, kind, and soft CTA.

Maybe like this:

  • Since you won’t be receiving our updates anymore, do you want to check out the products we just added last week? Sure, I guess so.
  • Hey, you may be in a hurry, but we just discounted our RotoCoptor 2,019XL. It’s pretty sweet. Wanna check it out? Okay, I guess.
  • Thanks, it was fun! By the way, do you want us to send you a quick email in six months or so, just to let you know about the latest? Maybe it will be a better time for you. And who knows, maybe we’ll have some really cool tricks up our sleeve by then. Sure, you can email me one more time, in six months.

You’re in business to make sales. Go ahead and give it a final try with a parting shot.

Make unsubscribing hilarious, unforgettable, or otherwise a very good experience.

When someone unsubscribes, it’s not the end of their potential or existence in the world. You have a relationship with that person, even if only through the memory that they retain of your company.

So, what kind of a memory is it?

If they insist on leaving, make it unforgettable in a good way. And, please, don’t say, “We’re sorry to see you go.” That’s just lame.

Here’s an example of an unforgettable unsubscribe page. Groupon’s unsubscribe page unleashed a tsunami of smiles. Maybe it was just a couple of overworked, underappreciated marketing Yahoos messing around, but at least it made a little bit of a splash. It probably even salvaged a few potential unsubscribers. Who knows:

HubSpot did it, too. They had a bit more class, a bit more polish to their video.

Maybe those videos didn’t keep me from pulling the trigger. But at least they made me smile. At least they made me think happy thoughts rather than, “WHY THE #%$ CAN I NOT UNSUBSCRIBE?!”

Here’s another unsubscribe page with creativity, color, and some sad puppy style:


Notice how they provide the reduce frequency option, plus the unsubscribe option. Plus, they’re lighthearted and humorous. They know that most people go to the unsubscribe button with low-level anger problems, and they’re just trying to make the world a happier place.

You don’t want to stick your unsubscribers in the eye with guilt, shame, or pain. If they’re going to go, let them go with a smile. They might come back someday.


Don’t get depressed about unsubscribes. It’s just the way this email marketing business goes. Like other false metrics, unsubscribe rates can easily mask the importance of numbers that really matter.

The numbers that really matter are conversions. And you can get more conversions from your unsubscribe page by simply trying the following:

  1. Make it easy to unsubscribe.
  2. Ask them to stay on a little longer.
  3. Give a gift to the potential unsubscriber.
  4. Encourage them to unsubscribe.
  5. Ask explicitly for a  second chance.
  6. Provide alternatives to unsubscribing.
  7. Put a call to action on your unsubscribe page, some conversion opportunity.
  8. Make unsubscribing hilarious, unforgettable, or otherwise a very good experience.

Can you think of any others?


Topics: Conversion Optimization, e-commerce, Email Marketin

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