Sweating over Gmail’s automatic unsubscribe link? Don’t be.

Remain calm! Gmail's automatic unscubscribe link is actually a good thing.Earlier this month, Joy Ugi wrote about Google’s official wide release of the “automatic unsubscribe” link. This link, placed at the top mail displayed in the Promotions, Social or Forum tabs, allows the user to request to unsubscribe from mailings immediately. The feature was announced in February, but just made official on August 6.

In the wake of this announcement, many marketers are worried this link will diminish their list size, slashing the reach of their promotional emails. At WhatCounts, we see this as a positive change instead of a cause for alarm, and here’s why.

It’s been happening for months

Since the Gmail team announced the live beta of this feature in February, the unsubscribe link has been added to many marketing and promotional messages delivered to Gmail users. If you’ve been sending mail regularly for the past six months, the likelihood is high some or all of your messages have already been including this link. If you haven’t seen a mass exodus of subscribers during this time, it’s unlikely to start now.

It’s the law

The U.S. CAN-SPAM Act requires you to include an unsubscribe link in any promotional email. Later rulings on that law have indicated the link must also make the unsubscribe process simple to perform. Some senders begrudgingly include the unsubscribe link but try to hide it, making it hard for subscribers to locate and stop the mailings. While this may not be a direct violation of CAN-SPAM, it does open the door for legal challenges that can put a major damper on your marketing efforts.

It reduces spam complaints

In addition to aiding in legal compliance, moving the unsubscribe link to the top of the mailing has one major positive effect: It reduces spam complaints. Subscribers who flag a message as spam often do so because they simply want to stop receiving messages. If the unsubscribe link is displayed prominently at the top of the message, they are more likely to use that link instead of the Spam button. Some senders have reported a decrease of up to 75 percent in spam complaints after implementing a more prominent unsubscribe link.

It’s a best practice

One key idea to remember in all of this is that anyone who clicks the unsubscribe link doesn’t want to receive your mailings. Making the unsubscribe link more prominent only makes it easier for those people to remove themselves from your list, allowing you to avoid spending money sending email to users who aren’t interested in your messages.

On top of that, most ISPs use engagement rates to help determine how mail is filtered. Removing users who don’t engage with your messages will increase your overall engagement rates, increasing the likelihood your mail will get delivered to the inbox for the users who want to receive it.

If you have any additional questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact the WhatCounts Support team for assistance.

Brad Gurley
Director of Deliverability, WhatCounts
@DeliveryCounts
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