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You need to encourage the unsubscribers

If your newsletter looks the least bit dodgy or unreliable then it won’t be read or even worse your email address will be tagged as a spammer. That’s why you should help those who want to unsubscribe… By Rick Osman

Having recently sent out the first edition of Highwire’s newsletter I have been paying a bit more attention than usual to newsletters, so let me highlight a warning to people who unsubscribe without really looking at a newsletter.

Hackers are using unsubscribe requests to build lists of email addresses. They start by trying a common first name and common last name @ a certain site. While most fail some will get through to an inbox; and then the recipient clicks on the unsubscribe button and confirms to the spammer that the email address is correct.

So if you unsure about the provenance of an email newsletter don’t unsubscribe, better to tag it as junk or spam. This immediately raises more questions for those who send out email newsletters.

Once an email address has been tagged as spam, any further messages are unlikely to get past the spam filter. So you have to make sure that your newsletter looks like the real thing so that recipients are convinced you’re a legitimate company trying to make an honest pound. You want then to unsubscribe rather than tag you as spam. Once you’ve been tagged as spam you are off the radar.

So you need to be sure that your marketing newsletter does not fall at the first hurdle by being tagged as spam. And to do that you need to ensure that what you are sending out is recognised as being relevant and looks professional.

People judge the authenticity of a newsletter by its relevance to them and by how well it has been designed and laid out. Spammers are usually in a hurry, words are misspelled, the subject matter is a bit vague or all encompassing, design is not their strong point.

Another easy way to recognise spam is the generic nature of the message which means you need to put something specific in the subject line. Saying “We’ll save you money” or “This is just what you need”or “Important news” is counterproductive; far better to use something highly relevant to your list members.

And the joy of unsubscribers is that they are helping you hone your list. You can send a million email newsletters but it is pointless if they are going to the wrong people. You need to continually refine your list. It might not be what you expect of an email campaign but there is nothing wrong with sending a carefully written and designed newsletter to just five people, as long as they are the right people.

We’ll finish with two tips each for senders and receivers…

Sending newsletters

Relevance is important, every email you send should be relevant to the recipient.

Professional copywriting and design will help make sure your newsletter is not tagged as spam.

Receiving newsletters

Unsubscribing from an unexpected newsletter is not always a good idea; look before you leap.

Quick glance then delete if you think a future mailing might be useful; you can always unsubscribe at a later date.

Rick Osman is a partner in Highwire,, a design and marketing agency that specialises in the construction industry, and one of the team that created as well as being a CIMCIG committee member. For further details visit

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