Dada Mail’s New Unsubscription Options (v11.3.0)

v11.3.0 of Dada Mail introduces some very useful enhancements to Dada Mail’s unsubscription system. A healthy mailing list includes easy ways for people to remove themselves from your mailing list when they have decided they do not want to be a part of it anymore. Let’s look at the options currently available to you as the list owner, when you are running a public mailing list – but first, let’s talk about what needs to be in place for you to run a successful public mailing list:

Unsubscription Button/Links Have to be Present

For a successful and healthy mailing list, you’ll always, always want an unsubscription link in every mass mailing that you send out. Dada Mail makes this easy, by placing this link in the layouts it ships with. There’s nothing more you will have to think about, except creating the actual content of your mailing list message:

An example of an unsubscription link in a mailing list message

An example of an unsubscription link in a mailing list message using the default layout

There should be as little friction as possible from when your subscriber clicks that that unsubscription link and from when they’ve been removed from your mailing list. Your user shouldn’t have to be required to confirm this unsubscription by logging into any other system, or have a confirmation email message sent to them (like what is done for subscribing), or anything similar to that.

The only issue we want to prevent is inadvertently clicking on the unsusbcribe link – and that can happen in a few ways:

One is just by the user themselves, making the mistake of clicking on the link. Another way is if the message is forwarded to someone else, and that person clicks on the unsubscribe link. Still another way is if some sort of background process – like a link prefetcher/cacher or anti-virus software scans the links within an email message. That latter one can cause quite a bit of havoc to a mailing list.

Different strategies to deal with this problem have been made, depending on the type of mailing list you’re running, as well as your own personal preferences as the list owner.

Here’s the three options Dada Mail now gives you (since v11.3.0):

One-Click Unsubscribe

As soon as the user clicks the unsubscription link within the mailing list message, they’re taken to a screen in Dada Mail. The unsubscription link contains information to look up who the subscriber is, and what mailing list they’re subscribed to (none of this information is embedded within the link itself!). If the data is valid, the subscriber is removed from the mailing list, without any additional steps. Awesome!

But, what about those background processes – like anti-virus software that scans the contents of URLs in a mailing list message? This problem should be circumvented most of the time, by the fact that Dada Mail uses a bit of Javascript to only allow this one-click unsubscribe system to work if Javascript itself is available. Hopefully, these link prefetchers and anti-virus software are not Javascript-aware.

This system doesn’t help though, for people who inadvertently click an unsubscribe link, or forward the message to someone else that then clicks on this link. If you’re worried about this, say: you’re running a discussion mailing list, there are two other options to think about using:

Click a simple link/button

As before, when a user clicks the unsubscription link within a mailing list message, they’re taken to a screen in Dada Mail. This screen has a simple button to click to finish off the unsubscription. No information needs to be filled out or anything – a click is all that needs to be done:

Click a button to complete the unsubscription

Click a button to complete the unsubscription

Once this button is clicked, the user is unsubscribed.

The benefit of this option is that accidental clicks of the unsubsription link doesn’t cause the subscriber to be removed from the mailing list, either from the user themselves, or from whoever else may have a copy of the mailing list message.

This option should also stop most any background process from unsubscribing the user inadvertently. Submitting a form seems like a strange thing for an anti-virus software to do!

It’s also a very easy ask for your subscriber to do.

Simple form, just fill in your email address

The last option provided by Dada Mail is to ask the subscriber to just fill in their email address again:

Fill out the form with your email address to unsubscribe

Your subscriber clicks on the unsubscription link in the mailing list message, and is taken to a screen to fill out a form with your email address to unsubscribe. Once they do (and it’s the right address), they’re unsubscribed.

That’s more steps than the first two options, but this could be a good option to pick if you’re running a discussion list, where mailing list messages are often shared between people, replied to, etc. I wouldn’t suggest it for an announce-only list.

The second option: click a simple button, is the default for Dada Mail in v11.3.0.

Unsubscription Links In the Mail Reader Itself

Now that we’ve talked about the unsubscribe link found in your mailing list message, let’s talk about the unsubscribe links that may be present in the mail reader you’re using.

Here’s an example in Gmail:

First, where does this unsubscribe link come from, and what happens when a user clicks it?

The unsubscribe link found in your mail reader itself exists because apps like Dada Mail give the mail reader information on how to unsubscribe the user from the mailing list. This is done by embedding information in the email headers of your mailing list message.

Two different things can happen:

One is that an email message will be sent to the list owner, asking them to unsubscribe the user. In v11.3.0, it looks a little like this:

Here's the email message that gets sent back

Here’s the email message that gets sent back

Pretty spartan, huh? It will be up to the List Owner to open this email message, and click on the unsubscribe link to remove the subscriber. This is far from ideal.

The other thing that may happen is that the mail reader reads the embedded unsubscription link within the email headers instead, and carries out the unsubscription on behalf of the subscriber, without any more intervention by the user or the list owner.

This is an awesome thing! But in our testing, not many mail readers currently support this as their primary action, and instead fallback to emailing the list owner. Strange, right?

It gets a little worse: remember those background processes from anti-virus and link pre-fetching apps? They can (and do!) click on these embedded unsubscribe links in the email headers – and unsubscribe your subscribers, without your subscribers even knowing! Ugh: so many headaches from list owners and subscribers alike.

Thankfully, v11.3.0 of Dada Mail has a few tricks up its sleeve to help this problem:

The first is a toughened-up system to help counter-act those false-unsubscribes happening when processes other than the email reader itself clicking the embedded unsubscribe link. Simply visiting the embedded link set in the email header now won’t cause an unsubscribe from happening without manual intervention from the user themselves.  This system is codified within an RFC (Request For Comments), which you yourself can read, here. That means mail readers across the board should (eventually!) support it.

If you do not want this email header (Called, “List-Unsubscribe”) from even being printed in your mailing list messages and thus: this option being shown in mail readers, Dada Mail now has an option to enable/disable it from being used.

You can find this option in the list control panel under, Mass Mailing: Options: Use, “List-Unsubscribe” headers. This should, without a doubt, stop any process from unsubscribing a user via the email header.

Do we think you should use the, List-Unsubscribe header? Yes! Of course: making it easier for your subscribers to leave your mailing list is of utmost importance to the health of the mailing list itself. Is the system perfect? Sadly, it’s not, but we hope that within time, it gets better.

The best thing to do as a mailing list owner is to make sure you’re running the latest version of Dada Mail.

Thanks for reading, and good luck with using our latest version of Dada Mail, v11.3.0! For more information about this release, consult the changelog – the changelog goes into more detail on the differences between past versions of Dada Mail, and this one.

If you have any questions, do feel free to email us.