List-unsubscribe is a method provided by email clients to let contacts unsubscribe from an email campaign without them having to click a link in the email. If this tag is included in the email header, mail clients which support this feature display their own unsubscribe button prominently at the top of the email.
Below are a few frequently asked questions on this subject. You can read more about the List-unsubscribe header here.
- Why was List-unsubscribe developed?
- How does List-unsubscribe work?
- Why is List-unsubscribe good for everybody?
- Does every Emarsys customer use it?
- How is List-unsubscribe different to our usual unsubscribe link in the email footer?
- Are List-unsubscribe requests considered as complaints by email providers?
- Does Emarsys support one-click functionality?
Why was List-unsubscribe developed?
As email traffic increased, many consumers became unwilling to click unsubscribe links in emails, for fear of malware. The only alternative was to mark the email as spam or junk, thereby harming the sender’s reputation.
List-unsubscribe took this functionality out of the email content and, since it is considered best practice, allowed providers and consumers alike to easily identify reputable senders.
How does List-unsubscribe work?
There are two methods of list-unsubscribe, both of which are supported by Emarsys:
- mailto – This sends an email to the sender with the unsubscribe request.
- HTTP – This uses a URL to send the unsubscribe request.
Each of these involve adding a tag to the email’s x-header:
List-Unsubscribe: <list-unsubscribe-stage+2188885_1039207_1_96YmQy0K@emarsys.net>, <https://list-unsubscribe-stage.eservice.emarsys.com/api/unsubscribe/248345885_1456063207_1_96YmQy0K>
The mail client will then display its own unsubscribe link for example:
Microsoft Outlook (Hotmail)
When a contact unsubscribes, Emarsys receives this information and the contact is automatically opted out (there may be a delay of a few minutes).
Why is List-unsubscribe good for everybody?
No good will ever come from sending emails to people who don’t want to receive them, so it is always in your interests to let them opt out. All commercial mail clients display prominent Report as Spam buttons in their toolbar which serves this function, but since this will also harm your reputation you need to compete with this for visibility and ease of use.
- List-unsubscribe reduces complaints, as mail clients give this button equal prominence with Report as Spam.
Since List-unsubscribe was an initiative from ISPs, including it in your mail header is a sign of good faith. Some clients even regard the words click here to unsubscribe as spam filter keywords. It also allows unsubscribe reputation services to more reliably monitor your unsubscribe compliance.
- List-unsubscribe improves deliverability and helps you avoid spam filters.
In the same way that airlines show you the emergency exits before take-off, a prominent unsubscribe button increases confidence in your brand and makes contacts more comfortable receiving your marketing messages. User feedback (like the "Report Spam" button) is one of the most significant factors in deliverability at the major ISPs, which is why the List-unsubscribe is strongly recommended by Gmail, for example.
- In other words, List-unsubscribe increases engagement by building trust across the entire email marketing landscape.
Does every Emarsys customer use it?
Yes. This has been considered the industry best practice standard for years and almost all mail clients support it, so we insist on it for all our customers.
Please note that this works independently of the Unsubscribe link that you can add in the Email Basics tab of the content editor:
Even if you deactivate this setting, the list-unsubscribe will still be there.
We also include list-unsubscribes in our email reporting:
If you are using a custom unsubscribe solution, please contact Emarsys Support to discuss this. Custom unsubscribe solutions can potentially cause conflicts with list-unsubscribe.
For example, a contact may click through to a custom unsubscribe landing page and then decide not to opt out. This contact remains opted-in in your database, but since the mail client will only have tracked the first action, they will consider them as unsubscribed. All future mailings to that contact will be regarded as spam.
Are List-unsubscribe requests considered as complaints by email providers?
No. This feature was designed specifically with the opposite effect in mind. When a recipient wants to unsubscribe, the longer it takes them to find this option, the more likely they are to click Report as Spam, generating a real complaint.
Does Emarsys support one-click functionality?
Yes, Emarsys implements one-click list-unsubscribe according to RFC 8058.