The opt-out process starts with a personal link that each subscriber can find on newsletters or its profile page.

What's inside

Note: since February 2024, Gmail and Yahoo mail services announced new requirements for senders.
These new requirements for bulk senders (those who send more than 5,000 messages to Gmail or Yahoo addresses in one day) need to be satisfied or it may result in rejecting message delivery to their customers.
Read more on SPF, DKIM, DMARC dedicated page.

We can have two kinds of cancellations: the one-step and the two-step (recommended).

The selection between the one-step and the two-step unsubscribe

The One-Step Unsubscribe

With this working mode, clicking on an unsubscribe link produces immediate cancellation. The subscriber sees a goodbye message and no other actions are required.

The one-step version offers less protection against mail scanners and it can lead to unwanted unsubscriptions.

Do not confuse this configuration with the One-Click Unsubscribe standard (RFC 8058) required by Google, Yahoo, and so on. That standard is already implements by the Newsletter plugin adding special meta data to every newsletter.

The unsubscribe links produced by the tags {unsubscription_confirm_url} and {unsubscription_url} works the same way when set in one-step mode.

The Two-Step Unsubscribe

With this working mode, clicking on an unsubscribe link brings the subscriber to a confirmation message, where it should click on a link or a button to complete the cancellation.

Then the process proceeds exactly as the one-step version.

The confirmation message that is shown when the two-step unsubscribe is selected

The confirmation message can be customized. Add a link or a button to be clicked to confirm:

  • a button can be inserted with the shortcode [newsletter_unsubscribe_button lable="..." /]
  • a link can be inserted with the editor setting the URL to {unsubscription_confirm_url} (that placeholder will be replaced with the correct URL)

The unsubscribe links behave in different modes:

  • {unsubscription_confirm_url} triggers anyway the one-click cancellation
  • {unsubscription_url} triggers the two-clicks cancellation

The Resubscribe

You may want to offer to resubscribe if the subscriber canceled by error. The goodbye message is the right place where to put it, adding a link using the URL generated by the {reactivate_url} tag or a button generated by the shortcode [newsletter_resubscribe_button label="..." /].

This link restores the confirmed status and shows the “reactivated” message.

The Goodbye Email

You can optionally send a goodbye email to those who cancel the subscription and on that message, you can use the {reactivate_url} tag to offer the option to step back and reactivate the subscription.

That option is less widely used than in the past probably because those messages could be considered unwanted communication and marked as spam.

The List-Unsubscribe headers

List-Unsubscribe header is a special (hidden) meta information (RFC 2369) added to emails when 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, even if supported, it is not always shown.

Starting by February 2024, major email providers require the presence of those headers. The Newsletter plugin is conformant.

The Special List-Unsubscribe-Post Header

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

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 even an email address. It is a deprecated option by email providers. You can specify that address and email clients can use it to send a cancellation request to that email.

You should process those emails: they cannot be intercepted by the Newsletter plugin.

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 the subject “unsubscribe” was used to cancel the subscription.

Tech note

If you look at the source of a newsletter, you should find something like:

      List-Unsubscribe: <https://www.yoursite.com/?na=ocu&nk=...>

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