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Why you need to enable confirmed unsubscribe functionality to your email marketing

October 2022
Jodie Soulsby

Spam, phishing scams and malware are nothing new. We’ve all had a good giggle at our long lost relatives from some far off land leaving us a small fortune (all you need to do is send your bank details for the transfer to be complete!) and those unsolicited emails about Viagra and hot women in our area. However, there’s a very unfunny side to these campaigns. There are incredibly sophisticated and believable scams that see individuals out of pocket, companies crippled with viruses, and identities stolen.

An estimated 320 billion emails were sent and received daily in 2021 and almost half of those were spam. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/456500/daily-number-of-e-mails-worldwide/ https://www.statista.com/statistics/420391/spam-email-traffic-share/).

In the UK, individual victims of cyber fraud had a median loss of £80 with 5.9% of victims losing over £1,000 (ONS) .

According to government statistics, 39% of UK businesses had identified cyber attacks with 83% of those attacks originating from phishing. The average cost of each attack was £4,200 (rising to £19,400 for medium to large businesses) (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/cyber-security-breaches-survey-2022/cyber-security-breaches-survey-2022).

These criminals are also quick to act and are very opportunistic; preying particularly on current affairs or fears to increase likelihood of clicks. The rise of COVID saw scams relating to tests and covid passes; the recent cost of living crisis and the government response to the cost of fuel has seen an emergence of spammers posing as energy companies claiming to be repaying the £200 winter benefit.

All in all, spammers and scammers are finding lucrative ways to take advantage.

Why does this affect how you handle your unsubscribes on legitimate marketing campaigns?

In response to this activity, mail providers and security software businesses are increasing the ways to identify and block these attacks.

One of these methods of identification is to have bots that automatically open and assess the content of emails by ‘clicking’ all of the links within them to identify unsolicited links. This is why you will occasionally see incredibly high numbers of opens and clicks on some of your marketing campaigns from certain recipients. This is something that used to be primarily used by large corporate organisations, but is now more and more widespread, even extending to individuals using gmail.

An unfortunate and annoying (for marketers) by-product of this is the unsubscribe link being clicked too. This means that, if you have a single-click unsubscribe link on your email campaign, the recipient will be added to your suppression list even if they didn’t actually want to unsubscribe from your emails - you can see why this is a problem: your mailing lists become slowly decimated through no fault of your own and against your recipients' real wishes.

What you can do

To negate false unsubscribe clicks from a bot, you should ensure all your email campaigns follow a two-step unsubscribe process, where users are taken to a further unsubscribe confirmation page. The bots cannot get any further than testing the link, resulting in only real recipients being able to intentionally unsubscribe.

If you’d like to discuss your email marketing needs any further, get in touch with us at hello@ewe.agency.