The Automatic Unsubscribe Link is here to Stay

Stop Sign by Kt Ann, via FlickrWhether you like it or not, you no longer have a choice about where the unsubscribe link appears in your emails. That is, at least when it comes to Gmail.

As an email sender, you may have noticed the small gray Unsubscribe text at the top of some of your Gmail messages over the past few months. Gmail announced its automatically-inserted Unsubscribe link months ago, but just this week made the feature official. On its G+ Gmail page Wednesday, Google announced the feature is now a permanent fixture on Gmail.

One interesting item from Google’s announcement is to which messages the Unsubscribe link will apply. Only those emails routed to the Social, Promotions, or Forums tabs in the Inbox – not the Primary or Updates tabs – will offer an automatic unsubscribe option. Google’s post indicates its automatic unsubscribe link will be attached to any mail arriving in one of these tabs that includes an opt-out link. Technically, though, the “list-unsubscribe” value in the message header is what will trigger the link’s insertion.

Gmail’s application of this feature has been inconsistent so far. Even now, after the announcement, you’ll most likely find some emails that should have the automatic unsubscribe don’t. Hopefully now that Google has made the feature official, the utilization will be more consistent.

What does the permanent automatic unsubscribe link mean for email marketers?

First, understand if your CAN-SPAM compliant marketing emails appear in the Social, Promotions or Forums tabs in Gmail, an automatic unsubscribe link will be added to the top – if not now, then in the near future.

Second, it’s more important than ever to make sure subscribers have given you permission to send them emails. Otherwise, the combination of the “I didn’t ask for this” content and the automatic unsubscribe button will be too tempting for them not to opt out.

Third, and much in the same vein as the previous point, it’s important you’re sending personalized, relevant content. Even subscribers who’ve opted in for your messages will feel the call of the automatic unsubscribe irresistible if they don’t see content and a design that speaks to them.

As this new feature sees widespread release, our deliverability team is keeping an eye on developments and we’ll certainly communicate any news on this blog.

There’s no doubt Gmail is moving towards more and more ways to eliminate spammy, unwanted emails. The automatic unsubscribe link is a step in that direction.

Joy Ugi
Digital Marketing Coordinator, WhatCounts
Twitter: @ugigirl

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