Unsubscribing Becomes Easier than Ever

Have you heard the news? Google is releasing another update (surprise, surprise) this week, making it easier than ever for subscribers to opt out of marketing emails. For every email sent with an unsubscribe link in its text – which is required for all marketing emails according to CAN-SPAM – Gmail is adding an additional unsubscribe option.

What’s different is this opt-out link appears at the top of emails, right next to the sender’s name.

Unsubscribing is easier than ever with Gmail's new link.

This isn’t really a new feature in Gmail. The ISP has shown it to users who mark a message as spam for some time now. Gmail is simply making the feature more prominent and not requiring someone to complain before triggering it.

How does Gmail create the opt-out link? It requires senders use a mailto: list-unsubscribe header right now so it can create the unsubscribe link. When you insert the list-unsubscribe header in an email, you’re telling Gmail an unsubscribe request should be sent by email to a certain address (our abuse address). When someone clicks the unsubscribe link, Gmail will generate an email to the abuse address for your system to handle. You must then take action to unsubscribe the user just as you would any other unsubscribe request.

We’ve long touted the tenet unsubscribing should be as simple as possible. In fact, we’ve suggested moving your opt-out links to the top of the page in one of our most popular eBooks. As people who love email, we see this move by Gmail as a positive for a few reasons.

1. Deliverability

ISPs no longer determine deliverability rates based on certain words or phrases found in subject lines or emails. Although sending to specific types of users still matters a little bit, today the key to the inbox is subscriber engagement. In other words, anyone who doesn’t open and click through your emails is hurting your delivery reputation. Giving these people an easy way out of your emails – without hitting delete or sending you to the spam folder – is optimal. The new Gmail unsubscribe link does this.

2. List cleaning/building

As people use the new Gmail unsubscribe button to opt out, they’ll also be removed from lists. No one likes a high churn rate, but at the same time, no one needs an email list of emails from people who are unengaged. Those people are dead weight, and you need to clean them off your list anyway. This Gmail unsubscribe button only makes this process easier for you.

3. More personalized, intentional email marketing

How can you prevent people from clicking the Gmail unsubscribe button at the top of their emails? By sending messages that are timely and relevant to subscribers. If you aren’t already, you’ll be forced to craft content that matters to subscribers, as well as segment based subscriber behavior. People respond to personalized marketing emails.

Overall, the new Gmail unsubscribe link placement affects email marketing for the better. You’ll have to put a lot more thought, time and effort into your email strategies in an effort to keep people from leaving your list. If you’re one of the marketers who says you love email, but continues to send batch-and-blast or not-optimized-for-mobile emails, you’ll be left in the dust. You’ll actually have to start giving email the attention and care it deserves for being your top-ROI producing channel. And you’ll be rewarded for all that effort: Subscribers will fall in love with the personalized emails you send them, and unsubscribing won’t even cross their minds.

Joy Ugi
Digital Marketing Coordinator, WhatCounts
Twitter: @ugigirl


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