In my last job in financial services, we encountered a continuous problem with service emails and managing unsubscriptions and spam reports. I’m not talking about transactional emails, because these are generally acceptable to receive and universally ignored for the most part. I’m talking about the types of email such as “Changes to your terms & conditions” and the like, the types of email people just don’t care about (even though you’ll probably spend a good amount of time developing them).
A lack of understanding
No matter how much I tried to manage this problem, it was a complete and utter pain in the bum. People didn’t understand that we were required (often by law) to notify them about certain things and since they had online accounts, they were to receive them by email. This often resulted in us having to send physical letters!
Especially in FS, trustworthiness is hard to gain so people would often just mark us as spam without even reading the email. Even more so when with service emails, when we removed the unsubscribe link because of course, they weren’t allowed to unsubscribe. We added messages to explain why they couldn’t be removed from the list and that did help ease the situation to some degree. However, many ESPs won’t allow you to remove the link. This is completely understandable since not everyone is a responsible email marketer but it is problematic.
A different way to handle service unsubscribes
The point of this story is to highlight this excellent example that Top Cashback is using to manage service emails. All their emails have an unsubscribe link, which when clicked on takes you to their website, but depending on the type of email it is, you’ll have the ability to unsubscribe or not. If not, there’s an explanation why not.
Why is this good? Well it means people won’t instantly mark you as spam for not having an unsubscribe link (builds trustworthiness). Also there’s a good explanation when you click through to the website, which makes it clear why you can’t be removed and I think this helps to builds a positive user experience. Finally, I believe that this method will reduce the amount of people marking the email as spam since their attention is directed towards the website, rather than the email. So even if they’re aware it’s a service email, there are steps built in to prevent them or distract them from doing their worst. A sort of positive dark pattern, if such a thing exists.
Would love to see more examples of good ways to handle service email unsubscribes!