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It recently occurred to me how much time I waste each day clearing spam out of my junk mail folder.

I’m not talking about the true spam, the emails for Viagra, or donkey porn that I didn’t sign up for (honestly).

I’m talking about what we in the email marketing trade call Bacon.

Bacon lies somewhere between emails you really want to get and emails you hate.

It’s generally stuff you signed up for long ago because:

  • You were buying something and genuinely thought you’d like to hear more from the brand
  • You were buying something and forgot to uncheck the newsletter box
  • You donated to a charity and felt you ought to check the newsletter box
  • You joined something and now they’re sending you updates

And of course the main reason: you have no idea why you’re getting emails from this brand, but now they just annoy the crap out of you.

I’ve been receiving some of these emails for years and dutifully not reading them and laboriously deleting them.

But I’ve never taken the time to get rid of them.

Something has to change.

So I’ve decided to clear out my eClutter.

I’m unsubscribing from every email that hits my junk folder this week. So far I’m up to 49 emails and counting.

And, through this process, I’ve seen so many unsubscribe methods that I now feel rather an expert.

So, here are my top nine unsubscribe methods in ascending order of irritation:

9. The easy peasy: One click and I’m out

Click a link and you’re taken to a page confirming your unsubscribe. Perfect. A+.

I like you so much I might even resubscribe.

how to unsubscribe easy


8. The needy: Please tell us why

One click and you’re unsubscribed, but please tell us why. Are we sending you too much? Are we boring? Do we smell? Whinge, whinge. A for efficiency. E for insecurity.

There’s never an ‘I’m just sick of your shit’ option, or a ‘you caught me on a bad day’ option (which are my two main reasons) so I just ignore the check boxes. Don’t you?

7. The lazy: Confirm your email address

You click the unsubscribe link and you’re taken to a page that asks you to enter your email address. Erm, do you know how easy it is to pass an email address through a link? Lazy lumps.

6. The bizarre: Send us an email address

No you can’t just reply – You have to cut and paste their special unsubscribe email address into a new blank email and send it. Why? Who knows?

5. The ping-pongers: We’re confirming your confirmation

You unsubscribe, then they send you an email to confirm that you want to unsubscribe.

You click the link in the unsubscribe email and then they send you an email confirming you have now unsubscribed. Confused much?

Look we’re not signing up to sell our kidneys here. Why make it so complicated?

4. The last ditch attempt: Update your email preferences

‘Would you like to reduce the number of emails we send you? Only receive our surveys, only receive emails that are purple? Or would you like to unsubscribe from everything’ –  in tiny font, at the bottom. Nice try. EVERYTHING PLEASE.

3. The delayers: Give us 48 hours

We all know how databases work, it’s an instantaneous thingy. You can process my order in two hours, so why not my unsubscribe?
Do you think that by procrastinating I’ll change my mind? I won’t. It just gives me two more days to berate you to friends and strangers.

2. The lost causes: You’ve unsubscribed but we’ll email you anyway

Generally these are the super small businesses that are manually mailing you, or worse still, that friend who sends round hilarious Friday funnies with 1689 friends visible in her cc. field.
They don’t have an unsubscribe function.

They don’t listen.

You will NEVER escape.

Learn to live with it.

1. The f**kwits: Please log in

Ah, the triumphant winners of the rubbish unsubscribe process. You know who you are!

You click the unsubscribe link only to be taken to a login page.
Of course you have absolutely no recollection of your password or username, so, if you want to unsubscribe you have to request a password reminder, reset your password, log in, go to your profile and then – and only THEN – can you actually unsubscribe.
That’s ten or fifteen minutes of your life you will never get back.

The result?
I HATE your brand.
The kind of hate that makes me tweet bitchy remarks or click the ‘phishing scam’ alert button on Hotmail.
The kind of hate that makes me actively choose never to buy from you again.

I’ve had some success with the f**kwit category by sending angry, all caps emails to their If I get a bounce back I send to and it kind of works.

But some I have, so far, been unable to get rid of, so I think it’s time to name and shame:

rubbish unsubscribe

An example of email unsubscribe f**kwittery



The inaugural Kate Toon Copy Unsubscribe Fail Awards go to:

  • Emirates Airlines
  • Skywards
  • Chain reactions cycles
  • Mojo themes

Over to you:

Have I missed out any unsubscribe types? Which type of unsubscribe do you use? Have you experienced an appalling unsubscribe process? Name and shame below.

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