Understanding the Unsubscribe Laws and How it Affects Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Many marketers focus too much on promoting email campaigns that they skip an important process “adding an unsubscribe link.” What are the laws regarding unsubscribe links? This article will provide insight into the unsubscribe laws and how they affect your email marketing campaigns.

Understanding the Unsubscribe Laws and How it Affects Your Email Marketing Campaigns

You may wonder why including an unsubscribe link is important in your email marketing campaigns. Besides, the main aim of your marketing emails isn’t to lose subscribers. The truth is that the unsubscribe matter is unavoidable when it comes to email marketing. This is why there are email unsubscribe laws that ensure that marketers and business owners don’t skip this process. These laws ensure that marketers follow the best practices when it comes to sending email campaigns. In this article, you’ll learn about the unsubscribe laws and how they affect your email marketing campaigns.


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Table of contents

  1. Email unsubscribe link
  2. What are the unsubscribe laws?
  3. Should I have an unsubscribe link in my email marketing campaigns?
  4. What happens if I don't include an unsubscribe link in my email campaigns?
  5. Best practices for adding an unsubscribe link in your email marketing campaigns
  6. Benefits of adding an unsubscribe link in your emails
  7. Wrapping up

An unsubscribe link is a link that is placed at the email footer enabling subscribers to unsubscribe when they don’t want to receive more emails from you. While users may have various reasons to unsubscribe from a mailing list, unsubscribe links are required by many spam laws worldwide. This brings us to the next section.

What are the unsubscribe laws regarding email campaigns?

When it comes to sending email campaigns, there seems to be a lot of nuance around the laws that affect how emails are sent. While we cannot offer legal advice, we can provide relevant information regarding email unsubscribe laws. There are many laws to consider. For example, there’s the CAN-SPAM law.

If you’re dealing with a US audience, then this law is applicable. The CAN-SPAM Act is a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.

Here are some of the CAN-SPAM rules that organizations have to follow when sending commercial emails:

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information
  • Avoid using misleading subject lines
  • The business has to agree to any subscriber’s decision to opt-out of its mailing list (they are to remove the subscriber within 30 days).
  • Don’t use click baits to get subscribers open and read your emails. If you’re sending an ad, identify it as such.

If your audience is based in Canada, the CAN-SPAM law does not apply. This is when you need to pay attention to Canada’s anti-spam law (CASL). This law is intended to promote e-commerce messages by preventing spam, identity theft, and phishing. It indicates that the sender of commercial emails must include a specific email address or link that subscribers can access through a web browser in case they decide to opt-out.

Though there are a number of laws guiding how emails should be sent, many business owners and marketers still question whether it is necessary to give subscribers the opportunity to unsubscribe. If you find yourself in this boat, the next section will throw more light on this.

Like we mentioned earlier, the unsubscribe laws support the intention of subscribers to opt out of receiving emails and senders must comply with these laws. Many businesses understand the importance of implementing this practice in their email campaigns, so they provide an unsubscribe option at the email footer or they include an email address where subscribers can click to unsubscribe at any time they wish.

When you don’t add an unsubscribe link to your email campaigns, it could negatively impact your brand. Subscribers may begin to feel trapped, making them distrust your brand.

Besides, there are unsubscribe laws regarding the way subscribers, and failure to add an unsubscribe link attracts some consequences. Some of them include:

  • Poor sender’s reputation: when you don’t include an unsubscribe link in your email campaigns, subscribers could mark your email as spam. This means that your subsequent emails would end up in the spam folder, hence negatively affecting your sender's reputation. Even worse, email service providers such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook could block your newsletters before they get the chance to reach your subscribers’ inboxes.
  • Low-quality email list: if you don’t provide an unsubscribe link, your mailing list could contain an unengaged part of your audience. This could lead to lower click-through and conversion rates.

Now that you’ve learned about email unsubscribe law and how it impacts your email marketing campaigns. In this section, we’ll throw light on the best practices to apply when you add an unsubscribe link to your email.

1. Write an honest subject line

Your email subject line should clearly state what your email is about. This means that you shouldn’t include a subject line that reads “claim your 50% discount offer” when your email is really about a new version of your product that was just released. Here is an example of an subject line that’s on point:

An example of a clearly stated subject line

2. Ensure you provide an easy opt-out option

Don’t confuse your subscribers with your unsubscribe message. Your opt-out message should be easy to identify and understand. It’ll be annoying to customers when they scroll endlessly looking for where to opt-out. You can provide an unsubscribe link at the email footer, enabling subscribers to opt-out as they wish. Here’s an example of an email opt-out option:

An example of an email opt-out option

3. Honour your subscribers opt-out requests quickly

Any means you provide for your subscribers to opt out must be able to handle unsubscribe requests within 30days. You have 10 business days to honour your subscribers opt-out requests. You can’t request for any information other than your subscribers email addresses. You can’t charge your subscribers a fee for opting out. Also, note that once subscribers have opted out of your mailing list, you can’t sell their email addresses. Your subscribers have the right to request their data to be erased. Your duty is to honour such requests by providing a checkbox for customers when they want to opt in.

An example of a opt-in checkbox

4. Indicate that you’re sending a marketing email

It's advisable to get permission from your subscribers before you send emails. Don’t send your subscribers ads if they don’t agree to receive them.

Besides abiding by email unsubscribe law, adding an unsubscribe link in your email marketing campaigns provides many benefits. Some of them include:

1. Gain valuable feedback from customers

Subscribers would have different reasons for opting out from your mailing list. Rather than letting them go, you can use the opportunity to find out why they left in the first place. This feedback can be truly helpful because you’ll learn why your subscribers lost interest in your email content. Or it could be that you were sending out emails at a frequency that wasn’t favourable to them. Either way, you’ll never know if you don't ask. For example, Betalist asks customers for feedback on why they unsubscribed so that they can make needed changes.

Betalist: A request for the reason behind unsubscribing

2. Avoid dealing with a frustrated customer

It can be annoying to receive emails that you’re particularly not interested in. especially if they are a bunch of promotional emails selling you things you don’t need. Imagine your customers in this situation. They’ll become really irritated and won’t hesitate to opt out of your mailing list. This could negatively affect your relationship and future communication with them. For this reason, it is important that you understand the needs and preferences of customers. Give them the chance to unsubscribe if they wish to do so.

3. Better chances of your emails ending up in inboxes than the spam folder

Including an unsubscribe link in your emails gives your emails a better chance to reach your customers’ inboxes, than spam folders. As we mentioned earlier, when there’s no unsubscribe link for customers, they won’t hesitate to mark your emails as spam. This means that your subsequent emails could end up not reaching your subscribers. So, it makes sense to give your customers the impression that you’re not spamming them. Besides, remember how crucial it is to maintain a good sender’s reputation.

Wrapping up

Now that you’ve learned about email unsubscribe laws, and how they affect your email marketing campaigns, it wouldn’t hurt to evaluate them before sending emails to your subscribers.

Remember there’s much more to lose than gain when you don’t apply these email laws in your email marketing campaigns. Your customers should trust your brand and feel they have the freedom to opt-out of your mailing list as they wish.

At Engage, our mission is to help businesses craft messages fit for their customers. However, we understand that for your email campaigns, your customers do not want to feel trapped without the unsubscribe option.

Hence, for every email integration choice on your dashboard, the opt-out option is available in the settings.

Sign up for free to power email marketing campaigns for your mailing lists.