Should You Include an Unsubscribe Link in Transactional Email?


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maybe-check-markAs you know, transactional email is exempt from requiring unsubscribe functionality by the CAN-SPAM Act. However, there are two sides to this story. Some believe that a subscriber should always control their ability to receive email, while opponents argue that transactional email has a specific purpose and value that is required in order to facilitate the nature of the initial transaction. So who is right and who is wrong?

It probably depends on the nature of the transaction and the content. No surprise there. For instance, messages that contain order confirmations, purchase receipts, shipping notifications and system alerts should probably not have an unsubscribe link as this information provides information to the recipient that is directly linked to their purchase experience. Not having access to this information could result in additional customer service costs caused by increased email, live chat, or call volume to customer support centers.

However, notification emails like friend requests, updates, and perhaps even product enhancements should include an unsubscribe link. Check out a recent email from Cyfe for a great example. In order to maintain a good relationship with your customer, allowing them more control over the frequency of these messages is prudent. If left with no other recourse, they will opt to mark your emails as spam in an effort to get off your list. You can also provide a preference center that allows them to opt-in/out of select emails or change their message frequency.

In the end, you shouldn’t be afraid of the unsubscribe. List attrition is a part of life and it’s better to let people self-remove than to force them to receive emails they simply don’t want no matter how valuable you think they are.

For more information on how to leverage your transactional email for success, download our free guide.


As SendGrid's Senior Manager of Content, Jillian is responsible for ensuring that SendGrid provides valuable thought leadership content through the blog, whitepapers, webcasts, case studies, and more. An editor and writer by trade, Jillian considers The Chicago Manual of Style one of her favorite reads.

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