The comprehensive guide to setting up the unsubscribe link

As this is a recurrent request in this community, here are the various ways of setting up the unsubscribe links in Marketo, and when one should use them.

0-Summary

The following table summarizes the possible approaches, when to use them and what chapter you should read:

IfRecommended implementation steps
You want a quick and minimal version that works well and guarantees compliance
  1. Customize the default code (See 2)
  2. Customize the default page (See 3)
You want to properly brand your unsubscribe landing page, and continue using Marketo default or system token
  1. Create a new Unsubscribe page with your own template. Place it preferably in a marketing activities program together with it's follow-up page and any smart campaign you may need
  2. Redirect the /UnsubscribePage.html URL to your page (See 4)
  3. If you plan to use it, customize the default code (See 2)
You need various unsubscribe pages for different audiences (segments, language, ...)
  1. Create your various unsubscribe pages. Place them preferably in marketing activities programs together with their follow-up pages and any additional smart campaigns you may need
  2. Add a snippet element in a dedicated module at the bottom of your email templates (or a text element if you are still using email 1.0)
  3. Deactivate the default link (6)
  4. Create unsubscribe snippets using the customized URL (See 5 ). You can even make these snippets dynamic if the various Unsub LP's are linked to segments.

1-The 3 ways to add an unsubscribe link to an email

There are 3 ways to get the unsub link added to an email:

  1. just ignore the problem. When you send an email, Marketo will detect that no unsubscribe link is included and will automatically add it's default one, that is defined in the admin -> email section and which code is:
    • <p><font face="Verdana" size="1">This email was sent to {{lead.Email Address}}. If you no longer wish to receive these emails you may <a href="%mkt_opt_out_prefix%UnsubscribePage.html?mkt_unsubscribe=1&mkt_tok=##MKT_TOK##">unsubscribe</a> at any time. </font></p>

  2. add the {{system.unsubscribeLink}} to your emails as the href in an <a> tag. This can be done in the template (even hard coded there) or left to the user. That will be enough and Marketo will automatically understand that it should replace the token with the proper link and that it should not add the default unsubscribe link. So <a href="{{system.unsubscribeLink}}">my unsub link</a> will become <a href="http://mktolpsubdomain.company.com/UnsubscribePage.html?mkt_unsubscribe=1&mkt_tok=##MKT_TOK##">my unsub link</a> at runtime.
  3. Add a link towards any LP in Marketo, with "?mkt_unsubscribe=1&mkt_tok=##MKT_TOK##" at the end of the href. This will be enough for Marketo to know not to add the default link to the email.

2-Customize the Marketo default code

The default admin-> email code can be customized by anyone who knows some rudiments of HTML. Text, fonts, colors, layout, etc.. can be changed. Just always make sure you do not remove the "?mkt_unsubscribe=1" from the link href.

Typically:

<table align="center" width="600">
     <tr>
          <td style="font-family: helvetica; font-size:10px; color:#555;">
               This email was sent to {{lead.Email Address}}. In order to stop receiving our spammy emails <a href="
http://mktolpsubdomain.company.com/myniceunsubpage.html?mkt_unsubscribe=1&mkt_tok=##MKT_TOK##" class="mktNoTrack" target="_blank">click here.</a>
          </td>
     </tr>
</table>

will work perfectly well.

Please note that, in order to prevent Marketo to track the click on the link, you will have to add class="mktNoTrack" to the <a> tag.

3-Customize the Marketo Default page

By default, all Marketo instances come up with an unsubscribe page that use the ugly akward Standard free form template:

pastedImage_1.png

This page will be located in the design studio, and it's name will be localized in the language in which you instance was initially created.

The most obvious and simplest move is to customize this page and make it a little more looking like a page from your company

You can also move this page in a program in the marketing activities. As long as it's URL keeps being UnsubscribePage.html (see below) it will continue to work.

4-Redirect the default link to another, nicer, page

Now, maybe you would like to use another template for your landing page. Or maybe you want to replace this unsubscribe page with a thoroughly designed subscription center. But you want to keep the usability for your Marketo users, so you would like to keep the {{system.unsubscribeLink}} token or the Marketo Default driving the visitors to your nicer LP.

For this, you need to know that, whatever the config of your instance, the {{system.unsubscribeLink}} token always direct to /UnsubscribePage.html. So you will just need to have this URL reassigned to your new and nice unsubscribe page. This is again quite easy using Marketo URL tools. Once your new unsubscribe page is ready and tested:

  1. Go to your old unbsubscribe page. In Marketo UI, click the Landing Page actions -> URL Tools -> Edit URL settings:pastedImage_9.png
  2. In the dialog box, change the URL to anything (I personally simply add "old" to the end of it.
    pastedImage_13.png
    Tip: What is important here is to throw away to previous URL so that the URL becomes available
  3. Then go to your new unsubscribe page and do exactly the same thing, granting this new page the UnsubscribePage.html URL

To run this process, wait until a moment when no email has been sent in the past hours, since you will have no unsub page available between steps 2 and 3.

5-Use a different URL for the unsubscribe page

May be you want to use a different URL for this page, or even have various URLs for various contexts. In fact, nothing mandates you to always use the {{system.unsubscribeLink}} or the /UnsubscribePage.html URL. Any Marketo LP URL will do the job here, as long as it is appended with the "?mkt_unsubscribe=1" to indicate to Marketo that this is an unsubscribe link. You should also add the &mkt_tok=##MKT_TOK## to make the click on the link carry the token value and enable cookie value reconciliation. Please also note that, in order to prevent Marketo to track the click on the link, you will have to add class="mktNoTrack" to the <a> tag.

The following is a perfect unsubscribe link in an email template:

<tr><td>This email was sent to {{lead.Email Address}}. In order to stop receiving our spammy emails <a href="http://mktolpsubdomain.company.com/myniceunsubpage.html?mkt_unsubscribe=1&mkt_tok=##MKT_TOK##" class="mktNoTrack" target="_blank">click here.</a></td><tr>

As you can see, it takes no token and not event the /UnsubscribePage.html URL.

This method will be necessary in a multi language / international roll out: you will need to have multiple, different Unsubscribe pages for each language and the Marketo default or {{system.unsubscribeLink}} token can only link to one of them.

Also please note that the unsub code can be added to snippets, which in turn can be added to the emails for maximum flexibility.

6-Disable the default Marketo unsub link.

If you are sure that your email templates always include the necessary links and you want to avoid Marketo adding it's own link just replace the default unsubscribe links with HTML comments in admin->email

pastedImage_35.png

Hope this helps,

-Greg

54 Comments
Anonymous
Not applicable

Hi Josh,

Thanks for your response. Is there any method to solve the problem? I have not found any related materials in community.

Best,

Ellen

Level 10 - Community Moderator

As far as Marketo knows, there's only one type of unsubscribe, and that's setting the system field Unsubscribed to true.

There will be no way to use canned reports if you do not also manage the system field. You can feel free to use other fields in addition to the system field, but you can't leave Unsubscribed false and expect Marketo to know what else you have in play.

This guide is super helpful.

We have just come across the fact that MacOS mail app does not append the unsubscribe link if "you just ignore the problem. When you send an email, Marketo will detect that no unsubscribe link is included and will automatically add it's default one, that is defined in the admin"

It does show the link when the email is forwarded but on initial opening no link. In Australia, this is not allowed there must always be a link.

Have raised a case to see if this is a known problem

Hi Michael,

I am still not sure how to set up the code in the Admin >Email area (so using the default marketo unsubscribe process), when I'm using my own subscription center link. I have read that it can look like this:
<a href="%mkt_opt_out_prefix%MySubscriptionCenterPage.html?mkt_unsubscribe=1&mkt_tok=##MKT_TOK##">

but on Josh Hill's site I read that it's better to omit the latter part (Quote: "as it is now unneeded and will cause problems.", which would make it:

<a href="%mkt_opt_out_prefix%MySubscriptionCenterPage.html">

I would like to do it right the first time as I'm working in a life environment 🙂

Thanks for any new insights.

Gerard

Anonymous
Not applicable

Thank you for the link to hide the default unsubscribe. For our purposes, this was the way to go. Appreciate it!

Hi Craig,

When you send an email, Marketo will detect that no unsubscribe link is included and will automatically add it's default one, that is defined in the admin

This can be disabled using step 6 of the post.

It does show the link when the email is forwarded but on initial opening no link.

If the links shows when someones forward the email, it means it was already there and you did not follow the guide.

In Australia, this is not allowed there must always be a link

This is true everywhere , hence the alternative methods.

-Greg

Anonymous
Not applicable

I have the same confusion and question. Can you provide any insight on this Grégoire Michel​?

Josh Hill​ makes the statement that Gerard van den Akker quoted in his blog post where he references you and this post. Can you provide some clarity?

Thank you!

Lisa

HI Both,

I do not think that removing the ?mkt_unsubscribe=1&mkt_tok=##MKT_TOK## is a good idea. 1st, without MKT_TOK, you will not reconcile the lead automatically with his cookie if the person does not submit the form. And if you ommit mkt_unsubscribe=1, you will not get the unsubscribe stats on emails.

-Greg

Anonymous
Not applicable

Thank you!

Level 2

We found out the hard way that if you put a query string on the end of the system token like...

<a href="{{system.unsubscribeLink}}?s=yourmom" class="mktNoTrack">unsubscribe</a>

...the query would prevent the unsubscribe from being linked back to an email.