How difficult are you making it to unsubscribe from your email list?

By law — at least if you are based in the United States — you must include some method for people to unsubscribe from your list in every commercial email you send. This is usually accomplished via an unsubscribe or manage your subscription link at the bottom of your emails.

There is nothing in the law that says it has to be easy to do so. And believe me, many email marketers are not making it easy.

(Side Note: If you are using an email service provider like Aweber, iContact, Constant Contact or any one of the host of many providers out there, they automatically add this link to your emails so you don’t ever have to think about it or worry about it being there.)

So if you really want to make people mad, and to ruin any chance of them having a future relationship with you, just make them jump through hoops — make it hard — for people to get off your list.

People get off your list for a variety of reasons and rarely is it because you made them mad or said something they didn’t agree with. The most common reason that people give for unsubscribing to a list is that the emails received just don’t meet their needs any more.

Sometimes it’s because they perceive that you’re sending them too many emails. But if that’s the case, it usually also means that the emails they are receiving from you are either no longer relevant to their situation, or they are receiving no value from what you are emailing.

Today I realized that I’m simply missing too many important emails that are getting lost in the jumble of all the other stuff coming in to my main email address.

So I decided to take my own advice and change the email address on most of these emails to an address I use for information I want to receive but is not high on the list of importance. In some instances, I simply needed to unsubscribe for the same reasons cited above.

And I was amazed and disheartened to find that so many email marketers make it extremely difficult to get off their lists. Several of them required that I log in to their site. Some require sending me yet an extra email to give me the instructions for how to get off the list. Others required that I confirm that, yes, I did want to get off the list by sending me yet another email. Yikes! What a nightmare!

The more hoops and hassles I encountered the more aggravated I got.

I also discovered that most of those that created these problems were using email service providers I have never heard of. Not the usual, more reputable services that most of us use.

So, if you are gearing up to start doing email marketing yourself, or even if you’ve been doing it for a while, find out how easy or hard you are making it on folks to unsubscribe. Subscribe to your own list and then unsubscribe. Find out what is happening.

If the process is too hard or complicated, fix it. And that may mean changing to a different service provider. Of course, that opens up another whole can of worms.

It’s usually our hope as marketers that the people who unsubscribe from our list will one day see the error of their ways and want to come back. But I can guarantee you that if you made them mad when they tried to get off your list, they aren’t likely to ever come back for any reason.

Your Action Assignment: Find out how easy or how hard it is for people to unsubscribe from or change their email address to your list. If it is too complicated, decide on the steps you need to take to remedy that.

Ultimately, the best method for allowing someone to get off your list should be with one click. And one click only. Better yet, if you offer an easy way for people to manage their subscriptions, as in simply changing their email address without having to first unsubscribe and then re-subscribe, that’s a great option, and may change someone’s mind from unsubscribing to simply moving to another email address that they can manage more easily. (That’s largely what I was trying to do today.)

So how about you? Is it easy for people to get off your list when they’re done?