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.

What gives?

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.

p.s. I help coaches, consultants, and business leaders discover and deliver powerful stories that captivate prospects and inspire them to act. Whenever you're ready, here are several ways I can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you'll land more clients without pitching and prodding:

1) Connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook and (if not subscribed already) join our email list.

2) Watch the free, 7-minute Micro-Training: “The 3 Most Important Storytelling Keys to Captivate Prospects and Inspire Them to Act -- Without Pitching and Prodding.”

3) Become a Story Power VIP in the Content Transformation Academy: Master how to discover, assemble, and deliver business-building stories. Weekly masterclasses. Members-only content. One-on-one feedback and consulting sessions. And more… If you'd like to learn more about our VIP program, just reply to this email and put "Story Power VIP" in the subject line. I’ll contact you with more details.

4) Work with me one-on-one: If you’re interested in working directly with me -- to discover, assemble, and deliver powerful, business-building stories -- simply reply to this email and change the subject line to "Private Client." Tell me a little about yourself, your business, and what you'd like to accomplish, and I'll reply to discuss options.

5) Invite me to speak at an event: I can tailor a presentation that meets the specific needs of your organization. Informative. Entertaining. Virtual or live. Potential for continuing education credits when applicable for your group. If interested, reply to this email and change the subject line to “Speaking Engagement.” I’ll circle back to discuss the possibilities.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.

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