Tips for Cold Email Opt-Out Language

November 20, 2023 by
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Communication is critical in cold emails, especially when providing recipients with an opt-out option. This approach respects the recipient’s choice and upholds your business’s credibility. The focus is on clarity and respect, making sure your recipients feel valued and understood. In this article, we dive into the best practices for framing opt-out language in your cold emails.

Do You Need an Opt Out in Cold Emails?

Yes, you need an opt-out in cold emails. This requirement is mainly governed by laws like the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR, designed to protect recipients from unsolicited emails and ensure ethical email practices.

Understanding the Legal Requirements

CAN-SPAM Act: The CAN-SPAM Act is a set of rules for business emails. It says all business emails must let the receiver easily unsubscribe or say no to future emails. If a business doesn’t do this, they could be heavily fined. The Federal Trade Commission, which looks after this law, warns that not including an unsubscribe option or ignoring requests to stop emails can bring legal troubles.

GDPR: For those sending emails to people in the European Union, it’s important to know about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This rule says you must give people an easy way to stop receiving your emails. GDPR is also strict about how you use and handle personal information, requiring you to be open and lawful. Not following GDPR can result in hefty fines and legal issues.

Avoiding Legal Proceedings: To prevent any legal proceedings, you should offer an opt-out option in all cold emails and process any opt-out requests promptly, ideally within ten days of receiving the request.

Practical Considerations

Avoiding the Spam Folder: Providing a clear opt-out method is not only a legal requirement but also a best practice to maintain a healthy email domain reputation. Failing to include an opt-out option can lead to your emails being marked as spam, affecting deliverability rates.

Building Trust with Recipients: Including an opt-out option can enhance trust and credibility with your recipients. It demonstrates respect for their preferences and a commitment to ethical marketing practices.

Legal and Ethical Email Marketing: To conduct legal and ethical cold email campaigns, you need to adhere to various regulations such as including your physical address, using accurate sender details, providing a clear opt-out method, ensuring your subject line isn’t misleading, and promptly honoring opt-out requests​​.

Is “Unsubscribe” Good Opt-Out Language for Cold Emails?

The short answer is no; “unsubscribe” is not typically recommended as an opt-out language for cold emails. While “unsubscribe” is adequate to meet legal requirements for cold emails, it’s not the most effective choice. 

Understanding the Context

  • Unsubscribe and Subscription: The term “unsubscribe” is closely associated with subscription-based emails, such as newsletters. In cold emails, which are unsolicited, using “unsubscribe” can confuse recipients. They may wonder how they can unsubscribe from something they never subscribed to in the first place​​.
  • Personalization vs. Mass Emails: The essence of cold emailing is to personalize each message for the recipient. Using “unsubscribe” implies a lack of personalization, as it suggests a mass email approach. This can harm the response rate since the recipient might assume the email is not specifically targeted at them​​.

So, now you know we don’t recommend using an unsubscribe button as your opt-out language, but what should you use instead?

What to Use Instead of the Unsubscribe Link

Alternative opt-out options, beyond the traditional “unsubscribe” link, improve user experience and ensure compliance with rules and regulations. They provide a more personalized approach, allowing recipients to feel more in control and respected, potentially leading to a more positive perception of your brand. Here are a few of the best alternative opt-out options.

1. Personalized Disclaimers

A personalized disclaimer at the end of your cold email can be an effective alternative to the unsubscribe link. This disclaimer should inform the recipient about the processing of their personal data, its purpose, and how they can request to have their data removed from your mailing list.

This approach is particularly crucial in regions governed by GDPR, ensuring compliance while providing a straightforward opt-out mechanism​​.

2. Direct Contact Methods

Instead of an unsubscribe link, you can direct recipients to opt-out, such as replying to the email with a specific word or phrase like “Remove” or “Opt-out.” This method can be more engaging and personal, encouraging interaction while serving the purpose of an opt-out option.

3. Tailored Opt-Out Messages

Craft a unique message that invites recipients to opt out if they find the content irrelevant. This can be a more brand-aligned and creative approach, moving away from the standard and often overlooked unsubscribe link. For example, a message like “Not finding our emails helpful? Reply with ‘Stop’ to say goodbye!” can be more effective and less formal.

4. Email Signatures

Incorporating the opt-out option in your email signature is another creative way. This can be done subtly and in line with your brand’s communication style, ensuring it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the email content.

Creative Tips for Cold Email Opt-Out Language

Creative opt-out language can transform a usually mundane process into an opportunity to showcase your brand’s personality and values. It can also reduce the negative connotations associated with opting out, leaving a lasting, positive impression on the recipient.

1. Engaging and Brand-Aligned Language

Use language that resonates with your brand’s tone and values. This makes the opt-out process less robotic and more engaging. For example, a fun and friendly brand might use language like, “Feeling overwhelmed with emails? Hit reply and type ‘Break’ to take a breather from us.”

2. Encouraging Direct Replies

Encourage recipients to reply directly to opt out. This approach fosters a sense of personal connection and shows that you value direct communication and feedback. It can be as simple as, “Not what you were looking for? Reply and let us know; we’re always here to listen!”

3. Customized Opt-Out Experiences

Consider creating a customized opt-out experience. Instead of a standard unsubscribe page, you could direct them to a short survey or a message that acknowledges their decision with understanding and thanks them for their time.

4. Humor and Personality

Incorporating humor or a touch of personality can make the opt-out process more memorable and less sterile. For instance, “Too many emails? We get it. Reply with ‘Unsubscribe,’ and we’ll make like a tree and leave.”

5. Positive Last Impressions

Ensure that your opt-out language leaves a positive last impression. Phrases like, “Sad to see you go, but we understand. Reply with ‘Goodbye,’ and we’ll part ways amicably” can maintain a good relationship with the recipient, potentially opening doors for future interaction.

By using these alternative opt-out options and creative language tips, your cold emails can stand out, ensuring compliance with legal requirements while also providing a pleasant and memorable experience for the recipients.

Sending a Break-Up Email

A “break-up email” in the context of cold emailing is a strategic message sent to a prospect who has not responded to previous outreach attempts. This email typically comes after several other attempts to engage the prospect, often around 5-6 emails, without any response.

The break-up email marks the last attempt to communicate with the prospect, signaling an end to the sender’s efforts unless the prospect re-engages​​​​.

The purpose of a break-up email is multi-faceted:

  • Acknowledgment of Non-Response: It acknowledges that the prospect has not been responding or engaging with the brand’s previous emails​​.
  • Final Attempt to Engage: One last effort to provoke a response or re-engagement from the prospect. Interestingly, some companies have reported significant response rates to such emails. For example, HubSpot’s team noted a 33% response rate to their break-up emails​​.
  • Closure and Moving On: The email communicates that the sender is “moving on” due to the lack of response but leaves the door open for the prospect to re-initiate contact if they wish to do so​​.

These emails can be used in various sales contexts, including cold and warm outreach and both inbound and outbound sales. You can also automate them as part of a sales email campaign. 

However, the effectiveness of a break-up email lies not just in its content but in how it is written. A well-composed break-up email does more than just bid farewell; it strategically encourages a final engagement or provides a smooth end to the attempted communication​​.

Tips for Crafting an Effective Break-Up Email

Be Direct but Friendly: Clarity is key. Let them know this is your last contact unless they express interest. However, keep a friendly tone to leave a positive impression.

Personalize Your Message: Generic messages are forgettable. Include a personal touch or reference past emails to show you’re not just sending a mass farewell.

Offer a Final Value Proposition: Give them a reason to reconsider. A new piece of information, a special offer, or an intriguing question can reignite their interest.

Keep It Short and Sweet: Long emails often go unread. A concise message respects their time and increases the likelihood of a response.

Clear Opt-Out Option: Always include an easy way for recipients to opt out of future communications. This respects their preferences and adheres to email marketing best practices.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Overly Emotional or Desperate Language: Avoid sounding desperate or emotional. This can be off-putting and damage your brand’s reputation.

Neglecting to Provide an Opt-Out Link: Not only is this a legal requirement in many jurisdictions, but it also shows respect for the recipient’s choice.

Ignoring Previous Interactions: Acknowledge any past communication. Ignoring previous exchanges can make your final email seem impersonal.

Being Too Pushy for a Response: While you want a reaction, pressuring the recipient can backfire. 

Avoid Guilt-Tripping the Recipient: When crafting a break-up email, steer clear of guilt-tripping the recipient. Guilt trips can backfire significantly, damaging your brand’s image and relationship with potential clients.

Forgetting to Proofread: Errors in your email can undermine your professionalism. Always double-check for typos and grammatical mistakes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of emails should use an unsubscribe link?

All commercial or marketing emails must have an active link to unsubscribe. This is a legal requirement, as recipients have the right to reject a subscription if they no longer wish to receive emails. The unsubscribe option should be clear and easy to use.

What should the opt-out rate be for cold emailing?

An opt-out rate of around 2.17% is the average for cold emailing. This rate should be considered in the context of the average open rate for cold emails being around 24% and targeted cold emails receiving average response rates of 15-25%.

However, in general, email marketing unsubscribe rates under 2% are considered within industry norms.

Importance of Cold Email Opt-Out Language

it’s essential to remember that clarity and simplicity are key when crafting opt-out language in cold emails. Avoid complex terms and focus on clear, straightforward language. This ensures that recipients can easily understand their options regarding email communication.

A simple opt-out process respects the recipient’s preferences and reflects positively on your organization’s commitment to transparent and respectful communication. Remember: an easy and clear opt-out option is not just a legal requirement; it’s a practice that builds trust and maintains good relationships with your audience.


About The Author

Mike Yon

Mike is the Co-Owner of Growth List.

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