Key Takeways: OTA Academy's 2014 Email Unsubscribe Best Practices and Audit Webinar


Today the Online Trust Alliance Academy presented 2014 Email Unsubscribe Best Practices and Audit. During the hour-long webinar, OTA Exeuctive Director Craig Spiezle was joined by Listrak Chief Privacy Officer James Koons and Innovyx CEO Derek Harding to talk about unsubscribe best practices beyond CAN SPAM and CASL compliance, as well as the results of OTA’s audit of the unsubscribe practices of leading eCommerce merchants. 

Below is some of the information that was shared: 

– It’s been 10 years since CAN-SPAM went into effect.

– CAN-SPAM is the minimum required. The goal is to surpass CAN-SPAM and adopt unsubscribe best practices. 

– Unsubscribe practices and regulations are an international issue, so there is more to consider than CAN-SPAM and CASL. 

– Opt-out links must be clear and conspicuous and visible from the last sentence of an email. They can’t be buried in copy. 

– Unsubscribe links must be readable both in terms of color and font size. 

– Senders must provide an easy opt-out for all email, not just the specific email program the recipient has clicked on. 

– Use a link directing users to a combination preference center to unsubscribe, opt down or make other changes. 

– It is an unsubscribe best practice to eliminate confusion by branding the unsubscription landing page.

– Serve an unsubscribe confirmation web page, not a confirmation email.

–  On the unsubscribe page, the sender can include a link to resubscribe or link to a preference center. 

– Although CAN-SPAM and CASL permit senders up to 10 days to remove an unsubscribe, it is a best practice to remove the address and add it to the suppression list immediately. 

– Senders must comply with the regulations of where the recipient resides (or is opening the email), not where the sender is located.

–  It is a best practice to adopt a list-unsubscribe mechanism within the header of each message.

– While the sender may not make completing a survey a requirement of unsubscribing, including a survey is a best practice to provide a more positive experience. 

– Results of the 2013 Unsubscribe audit reveal that 10% of the largest eCommerce brands are not in CAN-SPAM/CASL compliance.

– The audit also showed that many of the largest eCommerce brands do implement best practices, however, the outliers overshadow the industry.

– Nearly 70% of the brands in the unsubscribe audit scored 80% or better on their use of the top 10 unsubscribe best practices. 

– It is imperative that senders test their unsubscribe practices on a regular basis both to ensure that they’re effective and that they’re compliant. 

To read the OTA 2014 Unsubscribe Audit report, visit

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