How Unsubscribe Links Can Help Email Deliverability

An unsubscribe link is often placed in the footer of an email for subscribers to always have the option to opt-out. Placing an unsubscribe link in the footer of an email can help with email deliverability. Whenever you send out an email to a recipient, there are a few small details that spam filters and ESP providers look for when determining how trustworthy an email is. Negative keywords, sender reputation, and the age of the domain are just a few of the many factors these providers look at to get an idea if it’s safe to accept an incoming piece of mail from a particular email address, under an unfamiliar domain.


One of the most important details to include in each and every email you send out is a link to give recipients the option to stop receiving emails from your sender domain in the future. This is what’s commonly known as an “unsubscribe link". Most mail merge gmail tools utilize a specific link to include in email bodys/signatures for recipients to use for opting-out of any and all future emails.

This article will cover why you should be including these links in every single outreach email you send, no matter what. While including too many links in an email can sometimes be harmful to your deliverability, this is the single exception to that rule since unsubscribe links can actually prove to help your deliverability overall. Let's explore this topic further:

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What Are Unsubscribe Links?

To put it simply, an unsubscribe link is some type of hyperlink included within the email body or signature of an outgoing email message that allows for a recipient to completely stop receiving emails from a given email address or sender domain. Nearly every single email sending tool offers this feature since giving recipients a way to opt out of all future emails can greatly help save sender domains and inboxes from being reported as spam by recipients who do not wish to see these emails anymore.

 

Unsubscribe links are also required to be included in all email outreach legally if you are planning on targeting recipients in the United States. Later in this article I will explain this law in more detail and what you need to keep in mind when planning and performing email outreach, but know that having them included within your emails is not only good for deliverability, but a requirement in most circumstances.

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How Exactly Do Unsubscribe Links Help Deliverability?

First and foremost, unsubscribe links should be included in all emails sent out because they help with deliverability. Including these links within the footer of an email message is actually a detail that many spam filters look out for when determining how trustworthy an incoming piece of mail is coming from a previously uncontacted email address. Most people who are performing spam blasts or hijacking mail servers or email addresses to send out mass emails do not take the time to include such links in their messages, so just the act of having this link in your email message is enough to help prove that you are indeed a real sender and not trying to spread any malicious or nonsensical emails.

 

Alongside having all the proper security protocols in place under a sender domain, such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, including these small details within an email address can be the determining factor for allowing a piece of mail passed a spam filter, since most filters aim to prevent any malicious or useless emails from making it to a recipients inbox. The simple inclusion of a way for users to opt-out of an email address is an indication to mail servers that you already have a method in place for preventing future outreach if a recipient wishes, so in turn this helps to get you past spam filters.

Unsubscribe Links And Maintaining Healthy Contact Lists Can Help Deliverability 

When you have a list of a thousand, ten thousand, or even a hundred thousand or more email addresses, keeping it up to date and clean is a long and tedious process. While you can simply run this list through an email verification service to make sure that they are still active email addresses, this will not actually filter out the active email addresses who are not interested in your service, and thus a waste of effort to attempt to contact.

 

The inclusion of unsubscribe links in your outreach or newsletter emails help to weed out those contacts who are simply uninterested in your outreach efforts. While it’s not ideal to see your contact list shrink due to people unsubscribing, it’s saving your business time and money since the users unsubscribing from your outreach are not worth keeping on your contact list, and thus a lost cause for any type of outreach efforts.

 

A large part of maintaining a contact list as a business is ensuring that all contacts within the list can potentially be converted over into paying customers. Unsubscribe links actively help to separate these ‘lost cause’ contacts from those who potentially are reading your outreach, but not acting on them right away. While legally they are required to be in all emails, they simply help to save you time as a company from wasting your outreach efforts on professionals who never plan on responding.

How To Add An Unsubscribe Link To Your Email

As previously mentioned, adding an unsubscribe link to your emails can decrease the amount of bounced messages and the amount of spam complaints you may get.  Follow these instructions to add an unsubscribe link to your Gmail account: 

  1. Open the message draft you plan on sending 

  2. Add a statement regarding the option to unsubscribe at the bottom (You can get as creative as you'd like with this OR you can simply type "Click here to unsubscribe")

  3. Add a hyperlink to your text that will direct the recipient to your unsubscribe page

Check out the video below for more information on setting up your unsubscribe link:

Legality of Unsubscribe Links

So unsubscribe links are absolutely required in all outreach emails you send out to contacts, whether they are single opt-in addresses, double opt-in addresses, or cold emails. While no one will bang down your door right away if you forget to include these within an outreach campaign, in a legal sense it can seriously come back to haunt you if you forget to include these in the footers of your emails.

The CAN-SPAM Act was passed in the United States in 2003. This act in particular requires almost all types of email engagement to require a way for recipients to stop any and all emails being sent to them from the designated email address/sender domain. This law gives specifications for how you should go about giving recipients the option for disengaging from emails in the future, but they do not specify exactly how you go about incorporating this within your emails. (Note: Don’t bother reading the actual passed legislation, as I did while researching this article. It doesn’t provide useful information).


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The legislation explains how unsubscribe links were born and the main reason why they are 100% required for all email outreach.  Unsubscribe links are a legal requirement to be included in emails and help with deliverability. ESP providers, ISP providers, as well as those developing and implementing spam filters, know this is a legal requirement. Accepting mail from any type of email that doesn’t have an unsubscribe link is a liability for them, so they are much more willing to straight out deny a piece of mail if they feel that it’s originating from a spammer. Not including an unsubscribe link in an email is more than enough reason to completely block a message if they feel the rest of your DNS + sender reputation isn’t sufficient for accepting mail from a previously uncontacted sender domain.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, an unsubscribe link only benefits you, your sender domain's sender reputation, as well as the recipient, from wasted email sends. So all companies and individuals performing email outreach should 100% make sure they are included in all email messages being sent out. Even if they weren’t a legal requirement to exist within all emails, they help greatly with deliverability, and only serve as a way of benefiting you as a sender.

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