Contrary to popular belief, Gmail’s new unsubscribe button is a good thing for marketers.
When Google announced last month that it was adding a prominent “unsubscribe” button to promotional emails in Gmail, the company made it easy for consumers to permanently remove themselves from brand mailing lists. On top of the recent introduction of the “promotions” tab and a change to the way it displays images that limits the amount of available consumer data, some marketers are starting to feel like Google is out to get them.
But while the latest new feature may cause more Gmail users to unsubscribe from future emails, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for marketers. After all, users will find a way to opt out of emails they don’t want, and they only pay attention to messages that are relevant to them. With the introduction of the new unsubscribe button in the email header, the Gmail team is doing marketers a favor.
Without the convenience of an unsubscribe button, users who can’t easily find the opt-out link at the bottom of an email often resort to marking messages as spam. Even if a customer had signed up for promotional emails at some point, this action can contribute to a brand being labeled a spammer and cause major deliverability problems. If recipients instead use the unsubscribe button for unwanted messages, brands will avoid the dreaded ISP blacklists that do far more damage to a business than losing subscribers.
Gaining consumer insights
Just because consumers can more easily remove themselves from brands’ mailing lists doesn’t mean it’s the end of email marketing as we know it. The unsubscribe button will act as an additional opportunity to gather information about a particular audience — which messages work and which fall flat. Aggregating these consumer insights is a great way to learn more about a user base and improve future promotions.
Gmail hasn’t released a date yet, but it will soon provide reports based on the unsubscribe button that will include valuable information such as the date someone clicked “unsubscribe,” the complaint rate, and a message identifier. Based on that information, marketers can glean trends in their unsubscribe rates and further improve their marketing strategies.
Because Gmail is the fastest-growing free email service with the most engaged user base, major changes to its platform shouldn’t be taken lightly. Gmail users are tech-savvy folks, and they are likely to take advantage of this easy-to-spot button once the feature is completely rolled out.
The change should keep email marketers on their toes and force them to take proactive steps to reduce the number of consumers who might want to hit the unsubscribe button. By reviewing best practices — like including transparent company branding, making the purpose of messages evident with an obvious “ask,” and finding the sweet spot for frequency — brands can head off a mass exodus.
And as Gmail starts notifying brands about new unsubscribes, marketers can fine-tune their email strategies and provide remaining subscribers with messages they actually want to receive.
Bob Sybydlo is the director of market intelligence and deliverability for Yesmail Interactive, which has provided enterprise email marketing solutions and software for the past 16 years.