How to not design a newsletter experience

Creating great user experience doesn’t stop on your website or an app only. It goes way above reaching other aspects of your brand, positioning, marketing. The great user experience is complete when all puzzles of your company presence work great together and provide the amazing experience for the user. That includes email marketing which I’m talking about today.

Newsletter, the powerful tool

An email newsletter is still one of the most powerful marketing tools. Despite the rapid grow of social media, YouTube channels, podcasts it’s still the email which is used the most frequently for marketing mass communication and create the biggest return on investment. And with the grow of the marketing automation, emails are even getting stronger.

Lots of companies which know that they send to their recipient’s emails every week, every fortnight, or every day. Although, the biggest privilege for receivers of marketing emails is they can always sign out from receiving them at any time. It’s the law but also a practice which builds a good experience. So, having said that, there are still some companies which make it difficult to unsubscribe. That kind of approach is ruining a user experience.

The Email Case

Two weeks ago I got a newsletter from some UK based company. I can’t remember signing up for it, but perhaps I just missed that. I receive hundreds of emails every week from hundreds of places so it’s easy to forget. 

Once a while I do a clear out when I go through all my newsletter subscriptions and remove these which I’m not interested with anymore. So I did two weeks ago. Perhaps I should read their newsletter, but somehow it didn’t get me. I decided to unsubscribe and this is what I found in the footer:

email screenshot
footer of the newsletter from The Company

If you no longer want our emails, please email newsletter@…” – but why? I don’t want to email you. I don’t bother to write an email. All I want is to click unsubscribe and cancel my subscription, no question asked. Why do you make it more complicated than it should be?

Bad newsletter user experience

This is an example of the bad user experience within the email newsletter design. It’s equally important as website’s UX design because it’s directly connected to the website and it builds the whole brand image. So now, my perception of The Company is: “guys who force me to stay with them“. And I don’t like to be forced to do anything.

Also, looking from The Company perspective this request is simply extra work for them. I wonder if there is an automation system which reads requests or if it’s someone who manually deals with all unsubscribe requests and delete them from the database? The newsletter can be easily automated. Subscribe and unsubscribe should act behind the company’s back. It saves time and effort.

Anyway, I have sent the email to The Company to get me off the list and was waiting for the confirmation.

email screenshot
my email to The Company

Exploring the pattern

In the meantime, I was going through my two mailboxes: private and business in the hunt for interesting examples of emails. As I hoped the vast majority of newsletters I have received within last month had a standard “unsubscribe” option in the email footer. You can find screenshots these good examples below. But firstly I wanted to concentrate on the Ideal Home newsletter. This one is quite specific.

Ideal Home has included an unsubscribing option in the footer, even twice, but because of the amount of text around these links are hardly visible. It’s easy to miss them when you scroll through email so I may end up not unsubscribing even if I wanted to. Not the best experience, although acceptable.

screenshot of the ideal home newsletter
Ideal home puts lots of text into footer, and even they place two options to unsubscribe, these are hardly visible

Let’s take a look at the good examples now. I didn’t put big companies here on purpose because they nailed email marketing.

screenshot of everything 5 pound email
Everything 5 pound – online clothes shop


screenshot of the Face2Face HR newsletter
Employment Specialist I know – Face 2 Face HR
screenshot of the full story email
The web analytic tool Full Story
screenshot of the business growth show email
The Business Growth Show – event

As you can see there are a number of companies who manage their newsletter properly. Take a good example from them.

Finally, the last thing, what is happening when you click to unsubscribe? In most cases, you will get that kind of screen. And that is a good ending.

screenshot of the goodbye page after unsubscribing from the newsletter
A screen after unsubscribing from the newsletter – good UX

Wrapping up

I have been waiting 13 days before wrapping up this article to get the unsubscribe confirmation from The Company and still did not hear anything. I wonder if the email works as an automation and my subscription are actually cancelled or if I’m going to get another newsletter from them. To find out I have decided to postpone publishing of this article.

What should you remember from that article?

  • Make your readers live easier
  • Give them an easy option to opt out from your emails.

There is no need to hold readers for the sake of having them on the list. If they are not reading your emails what is the point? You want people on your mailing list who read your stuff, who are interested in your brand, people who actually care about you. If they want to go, let them go. They wouldn’t be your customers anyway.

As Janet Murray in her newsletter said, if someone unsubscribes from your mailing, nothing is going to happen.

Janet Murray newsletter
Janet Murray’s newsletter


On Friday 24th February, two weeks after the initial unsubscribe request I have received another newsletter from The Company. Which means, either, the unsubscribe model they use is not working, or they don’t want to let people go. I hope it’s the sooner. Either way, it’s not very good experience. People behind The Company, please, do something about it. I will email you personally regarding this matter.

If you are interested to read more my articles, don’t forget to sign up for a newsletter. And if you are experiencing expensive problems with your website or an app email me to talk about it.