The Solution of False Opt-Outs
My friend who handles PR for a nonprofit had an annoying mystery to solve.
One of her email subscribers complained that she had opted-in but was not receiving emails. Then another complained. Then another.
As my friend dug into the problem, she discovered that several people on her list were marked as unsubscribed. But those people never clicked the “unsubscribe” link in emails they received.
Turns out the unintentional unsubscribers had something in common: Their employers used Microsoft’s ATP Safe Links threat protection system to scan incoming emails and check for viruses, phishing and other dangers.
Depending on the settings, ATP will re-write and auto-click links to determine whether they are threats.
The Problem: ATP was auto-clicking the “unsubscribe” link in the bottom of commercial emails — including the ones sent by my friend.
ATP is not the only system that checks links this way. So “false” opt-outs was a real problem for my friend.
My friend solved the problem by switching email service providers.
She could not control whether subscribers had threat protection systems that auto-clicked the “unsubscribe” link. But she could control what happens when those systems click that link.
All reputable email service providers include an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of mailings they send. But providers have different ways of handling those links.
Some providers have “one-click unsubscribe.” When a subscriber clicks the link, they are instantly unsubscribed from the list.
If you use an email service provider with “one-click unsubscribe,” you will suffer false opt-outs because many subscribers have threat-protection systems that will automatically click that unsubscribe link.
Other providers have click-and-confirm unsubscribe. When a subscriber clicks the unsubscribe link, they jump to a page where they must click a button to finalize the opt-out.
If you use a provider with click-and-confirm, threat protection robots are far less likely to generate false opt-outs.
Not sure whether your email service uses one-click or click-to-confirm? Send yourself an email from the system and click the opt-out link.
Does it instantly confirm that you’re opted-out? If so, you have one-click unsubscribe and you probably have a false opt-out problem.
If, instead, you jump to a page where you have to click a button to confirm the opt-out, you’re good.
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