The cancellation process starts from a personal link that each subscriber can find on newsletters or in his profile page (if you added it, of course!). The cancellation is elsewhere named “unsubscription” but actually we prefer to stick with “cancellation” where possible.

Below you’ll find the word “unsubscription” used in our tags. That is an old story and for compatibility we’ll kept them as is.

We can have two kinds of cancellations: a long one, which shows a message asking if the subscriber want to actually proceed (and exposing few reasons to not cancel) and a short one, which produces and immediate cancellation with a goodbye message.

It’s up to you to select the process that better meets your needs.

1. The Double Step Version

The long versionstarts when the subscriber follows the link generated by the {unsubscription_url} tag, which shows a message you can configure in the cancellation setup panel.

That message should advise the subscriber about the consequences of his cancellation and offer a final link to proceed with the cancellation, generated by the tag {unsubscription_confirm_url}. If that link is followed, the goodbye message is shown and the subscriber will be set as “unsubscribed” on Newsletter.

At this point, if you haven’t disabled it, a goodbye email is sent (you can personalize it through the configuration panel).

At this point, the subscriber is not deleted from your database, he is only moved to a different status (from confirmed to unsubscribed). So all his data are kept. If you’re concerned by privacy laws (like the GDPR) you should consider to delete periodically the subscribers which have the unsubscribed status. You can do it from the “Subscriber Maintenance” panel.

2. The Single Step Version

If you prefer to offer an immediate cancellation link, you can use on newsletters and profile page directly the shortcode {unsubscription_confirm_url} instead of the other one. This shortcode moves immediately the subscriber status to “unsubscribed” and shows the goodbye message.

Again, if you haven’t disabled it, a goodbye email is sent.

3. Reactivation

Since version 6.0.0.

You may want to offer the subscription reactivation, if the subscriber cancelled by error. The goodbye message is the right place where to put it, adding a link using the URL generated by {reactivate_url}. This shortcode restores the confirmed status and shows the “reactivated” message (always configurable in the “Cancellation” settings panel).

If you’re used to send the goodbye email message, you can use that URL even there.

4. List-Unsubscribe header

List-Unsubscribe is a special (hidden) header (RFC 2369) which can be added to emails when they are sent to a list of people, like a newsletter.

That header contains “instructions” to unsubscribe, which can be used by email clients (like Thunderbird, Gmail, Outlook, …) to show an unsubscribe button.

Not all email clients support it and, if supported, it is not always shown.

Newsletter adds on each email that special header, so if you see your email client showing a button to unsubscribe, this is the reason.

Important notes:

  • Disabling the header (Office 365). It was reported that Office 365 SMTP does not allow (or could be configured to now allow) emails containing the List-Unsubscribe header. If you use that service and have delivery problems, you can try to disallow the header.

  • Cancellation via email request. The List-Unsubscribe header specification supports an email address instead of an action link. On the cancellation configuration page, you can add that address and email clients can use it to send a cancellation request to that email. You should process those emails as they cannot be intercepted by Newsletter.
    A bit of story: in the past and they are still used, the distribution lists were managed by special email messages. Sending a message with “subscribe” in the subject and to a special address was used to subscribe to a mailing list. In a similar way, sending a message to the same management address with subject “unsubscribe” was used to cancel the subscription.

  • Newsletter adds even the List-Unsubscribe-Post (RFC 8058) which should prevent unwanted cancellations due to link scan by bot.

  • Tech note: If you look at the source of a newsletter, you should find something like:
      List-Unsubscribe: <>

where the “…” are replaced with a unique subscriber token. If the header is not there, probably it is removed by the mail service of your provider.

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