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This article provides you with an overview of various unsubscribe methods and terminology beyond the unsubscribe link. The aim is to help marketing teams understand how technology and processes work and what manual steps may need to be put in place if the technology doesn't cover all of these processes. This overview is especially written for those who are new to marketing teams but also for experienced marketers who may not be aware of some opt-out methods.

Why do unsubscribe options matter?

There are several laws across the globe that clearly give subscribers the right to unsubscribe in an easy-to-use manner. Besides the law, it should also be in the email marketer’s interest to offer several unsubscribe methods to opt out from commercial email communication. Having decent unsubscribe processes in place may even protect your sender reputation in case of a scenario like the following one:

Although a subscriber has actively opted in for marketing emails from a certain company, it may be the subscriber’s wish to unsubscribe from these emails at a later point. If there is no unsubscribe option present, the subscriber may be reporting emails from this company as spam or deleting these emails without even opening them. Both are bad from a deliverability point of view and can harm your sender reputation. 

To avoid such a scenario, make sure you have various unsubscribe methods and all of them are working.

Another reason why unsubscribe processes matter is to keep your emailing list clean. Contacts who don’t want to receive your emails are highly unlikely to contribute to your email marketing revenue. Thus, keeping contacts that want to unsubscribe in your emailing list whatever it takes can be seen as a worst practice

Last but not least, the subscriber’s wish to unsubscribe from your email content should be respected. You expect your customers and contacts to provide correct data regarding their personal identifiable information or credit card details so in return subscribers can expect to be able to opt out easily from your marketing communication via email.

Unsubscribe link in the footer of an email

The most used and widely known unsubscribe method is adding an unsubscribe link to the footer of your emails. The email marketer should ensure that this link is present in every email and that the link is working as intended. It’s not a good experience for your contacts if they would like to unsubscribe by clicking on the respective link in the footer but they end up on a 404 error page instead. 

Moreover, the unsubscribe link should be easily identifiable as such in the footer. Having a light grey background colour in the email footer while the word or words that are linked to the unsubscribe page are only a little darker than the background colour is nothing that should be taken into consideration when planning the colour scheme and layout for your marketing emails.


The list-unsubscribe is another option for subscribers to withdraw their consent. Since the list-unsubscribe is an email industry standard it is automatically included in every email you send via Emarsys. By default, the list-unsubscribe is present in the email header in two ways: 

  • A mailto: link 

  • An https: link  

A full list-unsubscribe header containing both above-mentioned options can look as follows: 

List-Unsubscribe: <>, <> 

Besides the unsubscribe link in the email content, some ISPs, such as Gmail, will use this list-unsubscribe and offer an additional unsubscribe method that is not displayed in the email content itself but at another prominent position when having the email displayed. 

Prerequisites for the list-unsubscribe used in Emarsys accounts: 

  • The list-unsubscribe must be one-click link and should not request any further action from the subscriber 

  • The subscriber must be opted out in a timely manner

Both requirements are met when using the Emarsys default list-unsubscribe.

Unsubscribe request via email sent by the subscriber

Your subscriber may also submit to you his wish to unsubscribe from your marketing emails by either replying to one of your emails or by sending an email to an address stated in your privacy notice or to role accounts, e.g. or It is therefore recommended to monitor these mailboxes for incoming unsubscribe requests and process them accordingly.

Unsubscribe request via non-email channels

Subscribers may ask to be opted out by using channels other than email. To process such requests, you should also monitor other communication channels, for instance your company’s social media channels for incoming messages or posts. Moreover, your customer service department should know how to deal with unsubscribe requests they may receive.

Unsubscribe page on your website

Another extra option you could consider is having an unsubscribe page on your website present where subscribers can unsubscribe manually.

Lesson learned from this article

Consider more unsubscribe methods beyond the unsubscribe link and put automated processes in place wherever possible to opt-out your contacts. Monitor channels with non-automated processes regularly and act on the subscriber’s request in a timely manner.

Make opt out easy!

What’s next?

Please leave feedback below and/or hit the “like” button to show this type of content is useful.

You can ask questions and provide suggestions for helpful email deliverability topics in the Q&A area Q&A – SAP Emarsys Email Deliverability.

And if you’d like to find out more SAP Emarsys, you can visit the community page: SAP Emarsys CX.