November 22, 2014

Gmail to Add Unsubscribe Link For Marketing Emails

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Google recently announced at a live event that it will start placing a prominent unsubscribe link in marketing emails in Gmail.   According to PC World:

“Starting this week, a new, clearly marked ‘unsubscribe’ link will appear at the top of the header field in marketers’ emails. Previously only appearing for a small percentage of users, the feature will now be made available for most promotional messages with unsubscribe options, Google said on Thursday. Email recipients do not need to take action for the links to appear.”

Companies spend a lot of time and effort building their house email lists.   For obvious reasons, no one likes it when people unsubscribe, but it’s a normal part of running an email list.

By law in many countries, marketers are required to offer an unsubscribe link, but often subscribers say they cannot find it.  So they just hit the spam button in Gmail or Google Apps mail, because it’s quicker and more convenient.

One way to look at this situation is that it might cut down on spam reports against your company.  Clicking this link will send an automated message by Google to the email sender, requesting that the person be removed from their mailing lists. Of course, whether or not the company complies is a totally different matter. All Gmail can do is make the request.

Google is promoting this as something which will benefit companies that send out legitimate mass emails. It’s a common scenario that a person signs up for newsletters, but after a while, gets bored of them. But rather than go through the whole unsubscribe process, they just mark the email as spam. If enough people do this, then the company’s entire emails could have problems. By streamlining the proper unsubscribe process, the idea is that people will unsubscribe properly rather than marking the email as spam.

This is just the latest development in moves designed by Gmail to organize Gmail users with their marketing emails. Last year, Gmail offered a new inbox design which included tabs for the various types of email – including marketing emails. However, the reaction to the tabbed inbox design has been mixed.

So will the adding of the unsubscribe link make any difference? Ramon Ray, Regional Development Director at Infusionsoft, thinks the impact overall will not hurt marketers:

“Moving the unsubscribe button is good for end users who receive marketing emails. They can more easily, and quickly unsubscribe.  For marketers, a more prominent unsubscribe email button and moved to the top would be a big sign begging to be clicked – for marketers whose emails are not first rate, that is.  Marketers whose emails add value to the recipient have nothing to be afraid of!”

Ivana Taylor, President of DIYMarketers, agrees:

“The marketers who provide real value to their customers — those who are targeting customers who truly want to be in communication with them — will not have a problem reaching their audience.  Think of it as spring cleaning for your list. It’s not the size of your list that matters, it’s the engagement. So, if someone doesn’t want information from you, they certainly are not going to buy from you.”

10 Comments ▼

Mark O'Neill - Staff Writer


Mark O'Neill Mark O'Neill is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, covering software and social media. He is a freelance journalist who has been writing for over 25 years, and has successfully made the leap from newspapers and radio onto the Internet. From 2007-2013, he was the Managing Editor of MakeUseOf.com.

10 Reactions

  1. Definitely ups the bar for email quality. When the option to bail becomes that much more apparent and accessible you have to make sure your emails are good.

    • We’ll see. People who send spammy marketing emails rely on people attempting to unsubscribe, as it validates the address. However, as Ramon says in the article, those who do things properly and by the book have absolutely nothing to worry about.

      • Not quite. We have an automated way for people to remove themselves from the lists they opted in for. Google (and Microsoft BTW) doing this creates a need for every company to now develop a protocol to manually unsubscribe people.

        The could have done this differently. This is thoughtless.

      • Having an automated way is good, but as I said in the article, how many people bother to go through the official process? Most people would just hit the spam button (and I must admit to doing this occasionally in the past myself).

        Manually unsubscribing them may be a pain in the ass, but I would say that it is a lot better than having your entire domain mistakenly flagged as email spammers!

  2. Good news and will help. But gmail filtering social and promotional email have already made great strides.

    But I have cut my email down by using some email plugins, unroll.me has been awesome. Have unsubscribe deform 500 emails and rolled 250 into a daily email. Much easier to manage & scary how much naff stuff you get sent.

    There are others out there. Marketers need to enchant the customer and at the right time.

  3. However, there is a question on where they will place that button and how are they going to be able to detect if a certain e-mail is a marketing e-mail. After all, some e-mails are titled in such a way that it is sent to a friend.

    • Well the link will appear at the very top next to the sender’s name. As to how they will know if it is a marketing email, two possibilities. One, they have a huge database of marketers names and email addresses, or two (the most likely), Gmail does what they always do and scan the email for keywords and phrases. Every marketing email is going to have buzzwords such as “sell”, “buy”, etc.

  4. Many email marketing junkies are probably horrified at this news but, for me personally, it’s a welcome addition which should have been introduced many years ago.

    Excellent.

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