Newsletter Unsubscribe Forms and Why You Need Them

Newsletters are arguably one of the most controversial forms of communicating with your users. On one hand, a newsletter that is informative and relevant is unbeatable when it comes to improving your conversions. However, the secret is more about getting it just right. A person’s inbox is personal, and therefore tolerance is nearly zero. If you deliver content that is sub-par, irrelevant or unsolicited, you will find your readers frantically looking for the unsubscribe link. We all return to the same inbox day after day, some of us too many times a day, and hope to see something we like. This is why newsletters are so powerful; they yield the ability to push content on your readers as not everyone remembers to check your website or store for deals or updates. However, when users unsubscribe is not all that bad because you can learn from your mistakes.

Unsubscribe Forms

When someone unsubscribes, use the opportunity to draw out why. A simple form that allows you to collect some basic statistics on questions and a few metrics will give you enough information to adapt your content. A good rule of thumb is 3-5 questions because you want to get enough information but not frustrate your unsubscribers into giving fleeting answers.


Simply asking why they are leaving is enough to help you understand what you can do better. If you are able to provide a simple multiple choice or a radio button you can even quantify the reasons. Normally, questions asking if they lost interest, found the content irrelevant, too frequent, not detailed enough can guide you to help you understand why people are leaving. Further, you can get them to suggest areas of improvement or even leave a comment in order to gauge the quality of your letters. Obviously you can’t please everyone, but if you are hoping to reach a certain audience it’s imperative that you know that your newsletters aren’t up to what they expect. If you have run an academic newsletter for example, it might be worthwhile asking if they left because the level was too low or high.

Keeping Your Audience

However, forms can do more than help you understand why. Sometimes there really is nothing wrong with your newsletters. Maybe it‘s not interesting anymore or they are just sent out too often which might cause clutter. It is therefore extremely important to empower the user to solve their problem by providing them a choice other than completely unsubscribing.

Multiple Newsletters

If you have multiple newsletters, an unsubscribe form can cross sell users to subscribe to other newsletters and updates you might have. Describing in detail what they are about lets users pick and choose, or unsubscribe from it all. This is especially useful if the topic is the problem.

A Change in Pace

Newsletters that are sent out too frequently can cause users to unsubscribe. If you send out multiple newsletters a month or even a week, you give users the option to subscribe to a slower pace. Addressing the problem directly will keep your subscribers because they feel empowered. Whether you choose to compile all the content in one newsletter or only select one of the newsletters to send out is up to you.

Make it Easy

It’s important to understand that once a user is unsubscribed, don’t sneak them back in. Make it really easy for them to manage their subscriptions, but also to resubscribe. Know that just because they are unsubscribed however, doesn’t mean you can’t send them automated emails in regards to their purchases. Be careful retargeting emails, make sure you only send it to users who are subscribed to your product newsletters. Ultimately you want to build trust, so that they know they can leave easily should they choose to. Nothing conveys more sleaze than a tricky or shady unsubscribe form that employs dark patterns.


MailChimp and other newsletter tools offer great form builders that make it easy to compile a set of questions that can be viewed in graphs and charts. You can also export your unsubscribes into an excel and quantify your data that way should your newsletter service lack the capabilities.

If you would like to help understand your audience better and how to build the perfect form, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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