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How many times have you been on an email list that you wanted to unsubscribe from and had to jump through moving hoops, hold your breath for ten minutes, walk barefoot across flaming coals, cross your eyes and roll your tongue, just to remove yourself from an email listing?

Over the past few months I’ve worked at simplifying my inbox.  In the process, I’ve unsubscribed from over twenty different ezines!  I’ve seen every type of unsubscribe method, from the wonderfully easy and simple to the excruciatingly painful.

There are a few legal issues relating to online ezines; under the Cann-Spam Act and ICANN laws the list-owner is required to include a current postal address and a means to unsubscribe and/or change subscription details on every mailing that is sent out.  I am surprised at how many ezines and newsletters don’t include this information.

I was on one list from a fabric and craft supplier in the US.  In order to change or cancel my subscription information, the newsletter said to ring them during business hours.  Since I’m in Australia, there was no way I was going to phone the US just to request to be removed from their mailing list.  Especially since I would have to first work out the difference in our times zones and have to get up earlier than usual in order to phone the US during daylight hours.  Eventually I used their website contact page and requested that they manually remove me from the list.

Giving your subscribers control over their subscription is a really important aspect of customer service.  If you are running an online business, you may never interact with your customers face to face.  A negative online experience can mean that your business isn’t recommended to others, and may be spoken about negatively.

The major online newsletter and autoresponder services, such as Aweber, GetResponse, Constant Contact etc, have been set up to automatically comply with anti-spam laws.  They also have policies in place to ensure that their users comply as well.  If you’re running your ezine from your own computer and manually maintaining your subscription list, you are still required to comply with the relevant laws.

This can be as simple as always including your address -preferably a PO Box rather than your home address – and a sentence to the effect of “If you would like to unsubscribe from this ezine please reply to this email with ‘Unsubscribe’ in the subject line” .

And the final reason why you should make it easy for people to unsubscribe is because if they’re looking to unsubscribe then they’re probably not reading your ezine anyway.  By unsubscribing they’re actually doing you a favour by freeing up your list from people who aren’t valuing the information that you’re offering.  This keeps your list full of people who are interested in what you have to say and are more likely to pass your newsletter on or buy from you.  And that’s a good thing!