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Offering an "Unsubscribe" mechanism

Problem

You want to offer a method for respondents to unsubscribe from future invitation e-mails.

Solution

Add an "unsubscribe" calculation to the questionnaire and a link to it in invitation e-mail messages.

Discussion

It might be counter-intuitive, but offering a way for potential respondents to exclude themselves from invitation e-mail messages is actually a good thing, for a number of reasons. Offering a way to unsubscribe:

  • can increase the sense of trust between the participant and the survey manager;
  • can reduce the risk that a participant flags an invitation message as spam, thereby improving the survey manager reputation with key Internet service providers;
  • ensures that the information needed to unsubscribe is available (i.e., the _telkey and the project name);
  • leaves a trace of who has opted out;
  • reduces the resources devoted to unsubscribing since respondents do it themselves;
  • is simply polite.

Offering an unsubscribe mechanism is a two-step process. First, create a calculation and an information screen for this purpose in the questionnaire. Make sure that this section of the questionnaire is isolated from the rest of the questionnaire so that it is not reached in the normal course of filling out the questionnaire. For example:

    ISOLATE0 BLANK
    ## If ever reached, this question simply skips over the Unsubscribe block
    % question
    % note
    % categories

    % skips
       1 = ISOLATE1
    % condition
    % open-end
    ! ==================================================
    UNSUB BACKWALL
    % question
       [EN]Are you sure that you want to unsubscribe?
       [FR]Êtes-vous certain(e) de vouloir retirer votre nom de la liste?
    % note
    % categories
       [EN]Yes[FR]Oui
       [EN]No[FR]Non
    % skips
    % condition
    % open-end
    ! ==================================================
    UNSUB0 CALCUL
    ## Closes the browser if the respondent declined unsubscribing
    % question
       UNSUB0 = ferme_le_navigateur()
    % note
    % categories
    % skips
    % condition
       UNSUB.EQ.2
    % open-end
    ! ==================================================
    UNSUB1 CALCUL
    ## Adds "_unsub" to the e-mail address, thereby making it non-deliverable
    % question
       AEMAIL = $AEMAIL."_UNSUB"
    % note
    % categories
    % skips
    % condition
    % open-end
    ! ==================================================
    UNSUB2 MIN=0 MAX=0 BACKWALL CULDESAC
    % question
       [EN]You have been unsubscribed. Thank you.
       [FR]Votre nom a été retiré de la liste. Merci.
    % note
    % categories
    % skips
    % condition
    % open-end
    ! ==================================================
    ISOLATE1 BLANK
    ## This is the end of the Unsubscribe block
    % question
    % note
    % categories

    % skips
    % condition
    % open-end
    ! ==================================================

The calculation can be anything that suits your needs. The solution above adds "_UNSUB" to the e-mail address so that the address is no longer deliverable. This has the advantage of keeping the address information for future reference (i.e., "email@domain.com" becomes "email@domain.com_UNSUB" but the original e-mail address is still accessible in this field) and of requiring no other intervention to avoid further mailings to this respondent.

Second, insert a link in the invitation messages to trigger that portion of the questionnaire. In the example above, the link could look like this:

    <a href="http://domain.com/cwx.cgi?en:PROJECT:{$_telkey}:UNSUB">Unsubscribe</a>

This link opens the case referenced by the current _telkey, in project PROJECT, at question UNSUB, and displays the unsubscribe confirmation message.

A URL to the unsubscribe feature in the questionnaire can be supplied in the "list unsubscribe" option of cwemail.cgi and in the Autoemail pound instruction. Some Web mail system recognize this instruction and display a special button using the URL. A default value for "list unsubscribe" can be defined in the "list unsubscribe" pound instruction.

   

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