Do I Need an Unsubscribe Link in My Messages?

Disclaimer: Connect 365 is not a legal representative and not liable for your local laws. This is meant to provide additional information for the legislation that applies to many of our users.

There are a number of ways to approach this question. And we wanted to take a minute to break down the use of unsubscribe or ‘opt-out’ options in your email so that you know how to apply the rules to your situation.

What’s the best language to include in your emails with Connect 365?

Remember that with Connect 365 the benefit is that your emails will be delivered through your actual email and look personal.

Your copy should mirror that. It should feel personal.

And while ‘Unsubscribe’ language makes a lot of sense for someone subscribing to a newsletter, it feels odd in a personal message.

It doesn’t feel personal.

It feels cold.

So...what should we use instead of ‘Unsubscribe’?

Since recipients of a cold email should be provided with a way to opt-out. What options do we have?

Remember that the email opt-outs are right to include. But it has to match the other parts of your outreach with Connect 365. Make it feel human. Make it natural.

Below we’ll make the case for what’s required under CAN-SPAM (US) and GDPR (the EU).

What’s the legal fine print?

CAN-SPAM ACT (for Contacts in the US)

Any email part that has a commercial message must provide a way for recipients to request no more emails being sent to them.

The easiest way to give your prospects a clear way to opt out is to include an Unsubscribe link (now it doesn’t need to say the explicit word ‘Unsubscribe’ but this would be an easy way for the recipient to request no more messages).

And with Connect 365 you have the option to include a link with your own custom language in every email you create.

However, we should break down the different types of emailing and whether or not an explicit link is your only option.

Typically, email you are sending out falls into one of three buckets

a) Cold emails (to recipients that haven’t subscribed)

b) Opt-in marketing messages

c) Transactional messages

Transactional messages need to be able to be every major legal ruling on emailing, the delivery of transaction messages to send out receipts or deliver the product or service are necessary and allowed. They are judged differently than commercial or sales messages.

Note - if you are making an upsell offer of some sort of offer to your customer base, the unsubscribe option becomes necessary again.

There’s no doubt that opt-in marketing messages should involve an Unsubscribe link. It makes perfect sense – you’ve subscribed to a newsletter, so you are given an easy way to Unsubscribe. Very simple.

But what about Cold email? Or email to contacts that you may have an existing relationship with, but haven’t emailed?

There are two clear qualifications you need to meet:

  • There should be a physical mailing address. (we often recommend having this included in your email signature within your Gmail or Outlook account.)
  • There should be a clear way to opt out (it can be a link...but could also just be language for how to request that like below)

A common way to stay compliant that we recommend is to end your emails with a ps or below signature line that say: (If you don’t want to hear from me again, just hit reply and let me know).


GDPR has some similarities to CAN-SPAM but one major difference. You are required to make it clear to the addressee that you’re processing their personal data. That doesn’t mean you need to use that explicit phrase, but you need to make it clear.

We recommend including a disclaimer at the end of your cold emails sent within the EU. You want that disclaimer to accomplish a few things:

  • A statement letting them know that you processed their data;
  • A short explanation of why you have processed it;
  • Clear direction on how they can change the data you process or remove their data from your list. (this doesn't need to be an ‘unsubscribe' link, but should give a clear option to remove themselves)..

A sample disclaimer may look like this:

{firstname}, I sent you this message because I have strong reasons to believe that the information I’m sharing could benefit you. I’ve only processed your name and email address so that I could deliver this message to you. If you’d like to change the data I used, remove your data from my list or to be removed from any future emails, hit reply and let me know.

This checks the boxes required under GDPR.

CASL (For Those in Canada)

CASL is for any messages that encourage participation in a commercial activity. This includes advertisements and information about promotions, offers, business opportunities, events, etc.

Under CASL, consent is required before sending a commercial message.

There are two ways to gather consent under the law. In CASL consent can either be express or implied.

    • Express consent means someone actively gave you permission to send him/her messaging.
    • Implied consent means it would be reasonable to conclude you have someone’s permission to send him/her a message based on prior relationships. Implied consent could also apply to someone who has conspicuously published his/her email address, say on a website or LinkedIn page and you have a valid business reason to be reaching out.

So with Implied Consent we recommend keeping to those with whom you have a prior relationship, those you have connected with on social media like LinkedIn where their email address can be gathered from the Contact Information on their profile, or with those that have publicly available emails.

Note - under CASL, you must include the following in every outreach:

    • The name of the person sending the message (you), and identify on whose behalf the message is sent, if different;
    • Contact information (mailing addressing and either a phone number or an email address) of the senders; and,
    • A mechanism that allows the recipient to easily unsubscribe at no cost - this can be handled with the unsubscribe link option in Connect 365 - or by providing clear instructions on how a recipient can request no further messages from you - as seen in the CAN-SPAM section above.

The Final Word for Compliance...

And for the final word, just in case: if someone tells you in their reply that they don’t want to get any more of your emails – always respect that and delete them from your contact list.