What is “List-Unsubscribe?”


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UnsubscribeWe’ve provided a lot of strategies and best practices to ensure delivery, improve delivery rates, and show how they will benefit you in the long run in posts like:

·   How Poor Email Deliverability Impacts Your Business

·   Email Deliverability Metrics: 7 Metrics to Watch to Prevent Delivery Failures

·   How Email Deliverability Directly Affects Your ROI

There is, however, one practice that we could provide a bit more detail on; one that is quite simple to implement and that has a host of benefits to your email program. That best practice is to add a List-Unsubscribe header. Here’s a high-level look at List-Unsubscribe as shared on the List-Unsubscribe blog.

List-Unsubscribe

The List-Unsubscribe header is an optional piece of text that you add to the header of your emails. It works in conjunction with options that the email client provides for unsubscribing and spam complaints. This text provides an unsubscribe button that users can click on to effortlessly remove themselves from your list.

Why Include a List Unsubscribe?

Part of achieving higher email deliverability rates is ensuring that recipients can easily unsubscribe from your list. As you know, high complaint rates are the #1 factor that will hinder your email deliverability. Including an easy access unsubscribe mechanism effectively helps prevent spam complaints.

Not only do users appreciate the List-Unsubscribe because it enhances their experience with your brand, ISPs and spam filters view it favorably when it comes to making filtering decisions. In fact, most major providers like AOL, Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo! support List-Unsubscribe functionality. Therefore, including a List-Unsubscribe is an email best practice that all legitimate mailers should follow for all of their email campaigns.

List-Unsubscribe at Gmail

Yes, Gmail supports the List-Unsubscribe functionality except its “auto-unsubscribe.” When you click on “Report Spam,” a dialog box will appear that asks if you want to unsubscribe or report the email as spam. If you click unsubscribe, a notification will be delivered to the sender to stop mailing you. For senders, you only need to include a standard List-Unsubscribe header in your email with the “mailto” URL. Here’s how your users will see it.


In the end, there is no need to force or trick someone into staying on your list. If they want off, let them go. You only want active and engaged users on your list anyway, and if you give them something meaningful, they’ll be back. Remember attrition is a natural part of email marketing so don’t hold on to something that clearly has other interests. It’s a new year so remember this old mantra – out with the old and in with the new!

For more detailed information on List-Unsubscribe, visit the dedicated site here and learn more about Gmail bulk sending practices here.

And to learn about all the email best practices that will help your email delivery, download our updated Email Deliverability Guide.


Carly Brantz is a veteran in the email deliverability space working to make email simple and easy for developers by regularly writing whitepapers, research briefs and blog posts about email, technology and industry trends.

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