Should You Add Unsubscribe Links In Cold Emails? (Alternatives + Best Practices)

“Why would l intentionally give my prospects a way to stop receiving my emails when that’s the last thing I want from them?”

“Are unsubscribe links necessary for cold emails?”

“Can I add unsubscribe links in cold emails in a smaller font so it won’t catch my prospect’s eye?”

If these are some of the questions you think of before kickstarting your first cold email campaign, this article is for you. Here, we answer the pertinent questions you’ve asked: Should you add unsubscribe links? How to add unsubscribe links? Why should you add it in the first place?

First, let’s address the burning question,

Yes, and no. Your cold emails don’t necessarily need specifically an ‘unsubscribe’ link. But that doesn’t mean you can reach out to businesses without giving prospects an option to opt-out from receiving your emails. Specifying ways to opt out of your cold emails is a mandatory practice you should follow as a B2B sales rep. Here’s why: 

1. To Be Compliant With:


The CAN-SPAM ACT of the U.S. states that all commercial messages should give its recipients a clear way to opt out of them. All types of emails that fall under the category of commercial emails from business emails to marketing emails to cold emails, have to follow this. 

The act also specifies you take prompt action in less than 10 days whenever someone requests to opt out of your emails. Defying or trying to circumvent these rules can land you in serious legal trouble, including fines as fat as  $46,517 per email.

  • GDPR

Apart from letting your prospects know the reason for your email and where you sourced their personal data, the GDPR law of the EU also wants you to give them an easy and direct way to opt out of your emails. Being the most stringent data protection law globally, non-compliance to the GDPR can result in hefty penalties of up to 20 million euros or 4% of the global revenue of the company. Besides this, the law also gives recipients the power to demand compensation if needed.

2. To ensure email deliverability

Not including an email opt-out option in your cold email outreach negatively impacts your email deliverability. Here’s why: 

Imagine that your cold email lands in the wrong inbox. And your recipients have no way to opt out of it, they’ll have no choice but to report the email as spam.

Now, if multiple prospects report your emails for the same reason, that’s your cold email campaign’s endgame. 

Because it means low email deliverability and a greater chance of getting your email account suspended by email service providers (ESP).

On the other hand, adding an opt-out option or an unsubscribe link in cold emails can save you from unwanted spam reports.

Want to know how to circumvent email providers’ spam filters? Read here.

3. To target the right prospects

Unsubscribe requests aren’t always about poorly written cold emails. Sometimes prospects unsubscribe from your cold emails because they have zero buying intent. Even the best cold emails with hyper-personalized elements would be deemed unfit to coax a reply out of these prospects. 

Yes, that’s terrible news, but here’s the flipside. Unsubscribes give closure. They tell you that it is time for you to shift your focus to other prospects, those who are more likely to buy from you.

A Pro Guide on How to Write a Cold Email in 2023

  1. When using email outreach or a sales engagement tool: Usually the tool you’re using to automate your email outreach will give you the option to add an unsubscribe link. In most if not all cases, you should also be able to edit the unsubscribe text to whatever you’d want to use. 
  1. When you’re doing manual outreach: If you’re sending cold email campaigns via Gmail, you can switch to multi-send mode, and an unsubscribe link will be automatically generated. 
  1. When using Hubspot to do your email outreach: You can either opt to switch on the GDPR functionality setting where unsubscribe links will be automatically included otherwise to do it for one-off email campaigns, you’ll have to manually check the ‘Include unsubscribe link’ option you’ll find from settings → general → email. In the latter option, you can edit the message you want the unsubscribe link to show as well.

Adding unsubscribe links in cold emails is the easiest way to give your recipients an opt-out. Since most cold email software comes with an inbuilt option, all you’ve to do is click a button or two to add them. 

But the question is, are they the only option? You spend a lot of time polishing your cold message and finding that perfect subject line. But why be content with the bare minimum when it comes to opt-outs?

Are there any better alternatives? 

Yes, you can actually add a lot of creativity to the opt-out link in your cold emails: 

Yes, adding auto-generated unsubscribe links to your cold emails is convenient, especially when you run multiple campaigns. Because of how common it is used by marketers and salespeople, such generic unsubscribe – links are almost invisible to the reader or sometimes conveniently hidden at the end of your cold email. 

But what if making your unsubscribe link stands out as an effective way to ensure your prospects never click on it? Like this unsubscribe link on the newsletter ‘Contentment‘ by Tracey Wallace, Director of Content Strategy at Klaviyo:

Example image to show Adding Copywriting Flair to Boring Unsubscribe Links
Source: Tracey Wallace, Contentment newsletter

“Wanna ruin my day? Unsubscribe”

She hasn’t done much other than use the power of quirky copywriting. And the result? People think twice before clicking the unsubscribe button. They may even hate themselves for thinking about ruining her day (that is, unsubscribing). In other words, those 4 words transform an otherwise boring ‘unsubscribe’ link into something capable of evoking compassion and consideration for the human at the other end.

Here are some more unsubscribe messages that caught our eye:

  • Richard Harris: We would love to hear why you clicked below. Unsubscribe
  • The SDR Newsletter: Want to make us sad? Unsubscribe from this list.
  • The Hustle by Hubspot: Never want to hear from us again? Break our hearts and unsubscribe.

You might be thinking, ‘but these are for a B2C audience, these are newsletters!’ You could add your own spin to it to suit the B2B audience. If you’re looking to add unsubscribe links in a way that doesn’t indicate to the reader that you’re running cold email campaigns, you can go for the next option. 

2. PS Your Opt-Out

You can leave the opt-out instructions at the bottom of your cold emails like an additional thought or a postscript. It needn’t be fancy and shouldn’t necessarily contain the word ‘unsubscribe’ in them. 

For example, 

“PS: If you want to stop getting my emails, just send an email with the subject line, stop.”


“PS: If you aren’t the right person, reply to this message with a no.”

These work because they are direct, friendly, and consistent with the rest of your personalized email.

However, if your cold emails target prospects from the EU, you need to add a couple more details to be GDPR compliant. Here’s an example of a GDPR-compliant opt-out instruction:

This message mentions the reason for the email and from where the recipient information was sourced, along with the opt-out instruction.

3. Convert Your Breakup Email Into An Opt-Out Email

You can also dedicate a follow-up email, like a breakup email, to double as an opt-out email. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add opt-out options in the rest of the emails. You’d still have to. 

Here is an example of the breakup/opt-out email you can use:

Hey {First name}

This is my last email, but I’d love your feedback so our product can get better.

What’s the main reason you didn’t want to hop on a call with us?

A. It’s not a priority right now

B. Call us next quarter

C. I’m not interested

D. I was busy, call me sometime this week

Just choose A, B, C, or D, and you’ll never hear from me again unless you want me to.


{Your name}

You are more likely to get a reply to breakup emails like these as all prospects have to do is choose an option. If a recipient replies they aren’t interested, you should unsubscribe them from your email list even if they haven’t raised an opt-out request per se.

Looking for more breakup email templates? Check here.

Best Practices To Follow While Adding Opt-out Options In Cold Emails

  1. Make Sure Your Opt-up Message Is Visible

Each unsubscribe request you get punctures a hole in your heart. Yes, we get it. But that doesn’t give you a reason to bury your unsubscribe links or other opt-out messages. So avoid using extremely light colors or smaller fonts. In other words, don’t make your readers squint their eyes to find the opt-out link or message.

Example of making sure your link must be visible.
Avoid using extremely light colors or smaller fonts

Source: ActiveCampaign

Similarly, don’t make it stand out in a way that gives your readers a panic attack. Avoid brighter colors, especially red, blue, and orange, because chunks of text in these colors conjure up only one thing – ‘marketing newsletter’ and that’s trouble if you’re running a cold email campaign. This becomes 10x scary if you use the legal fine print in your opt-out message. Check out the below picture if you don’t believe us.

Example to Avoid using extremely light colors or smaller fonts
Avoid using brighter font colors to write opt-out instruction

Source: Woodpecker

  1. Make It Seem Like The Rest Of The Email

Make your opt-out message sound and look as natural as possible. Ditch the legal verbose and stick to smaller, friendlier, and easy-to-read sentences. Use humor and copywriting techniques to make it consistent with the rest of your email content.

Example of adding an unsubscribe link in a email
Ditch the legal verbose and stick to smaller sentences

Source: Lavendaire

  1. Add A Pause Option Along With The Unsubscribe Option

What if prospects hate your sales or promotional emails but find your other content helpful? In this case, you can add a pause option along with your unsubscribe link. The pause option allows them to steer clear of sales campaigns without having to unsubscribe from your emails. It also gives you a chance to continue nurturing them until they are sales-ready.

Add A Pause Option Along With The Unsubscribe Option
The pause option allows subscribers to steer clear of sales campaigns without having to unsubscribe from your emails.

Source: Copy Posse Newsletter

In A Nutshell

Always include an opt-out option in all of your cold emails. But don’t just stick to adding unsubscribe links, play with other creative ways we mentioned in this blog to make your opt-out message sound less robotic and more humane. Last but not least, acknowledge unsubscribe requests from your prospect, unsubscribe them from future emails, and let them go forever.

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