February 26, 2014 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Google is placing an unsubscribe button at the top of promotional emails, which should make it easier for users to opt-out of unwanted email communication. Now instead of having to unsubscribe through the body of the email (with the link potentially taking them to a log-in page or a survey about why they’re unsubscribing) they can just click once and Google will take care of it.
With headlines like “Unsubscribe Button Fights Marketing Emails,” and “Google’s Unsubscribe Button Eliminates Marketing Emails,” it’s hard to see the positive side of this update, but it’s there. Here’s why.
According to the CAN-SPAM Act, the opt-out option must be clearly marked. The instructions must be visible and clear to whoever receives the email. Furthermore, companies must honor opt-out requests within 10 business days. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in a maximum $16,000 fine per address.
In short, you should already have an unsubscribe button anyway. Most companies place the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email, and this one will be near the email address. If people haven’t opted out of your emails yet, they probably won’t start now.
If you’re sending emails to people who just delete the message because they’re too lazy to unsubscribe or can’t find the button, then you’re wasting your money on them. If they’re never going to read and click through to your blog and website then it’s better that they unsubscribe. Their empty spot makes room for someone else who will be actively engaged with your content.
If you do see a drop in recipients as Google rolls out this button, think of it as spring cleaning for your email list. You’re trimming the fat and increasing the value of your readership.
Sometimes people mark emails as spam instead of looking to unsubscribe. They think it has the same effect and Gmail will block the message or move it to the spam folder from then on out. However, getting flagged as spam has bigger consequences for marketers. If Gmail starts flagging your address as spam, a large chunk of your email list could stop seeing your message. Your open rates, click through rates, and sales could be hurt.
The Consumerist pointed out that flagging a company as spam could mean consumers miss an important email that they wanted to receive. Instead, they could unsubscribe from the weekly newsletter, which means the email with the confirmation number and purchase details still goes to their inbox. This also means the customer is happy and they aren’t calling customer service because they never received a confirmation.
With the new tabs in Gmail, marketing emails only have to compete with each other under the promotions tab instead of fighting for attention against Facebook notifications and notes from mom. Users visit the promotions tab when they have time to peruse the multiple newsletters that they’re subscribed to. If people are hitting the unsubscribe button, there’s less competition for you. All you have to do is stay interesting and relevant and you won’t get cut.
It’s easy to write off Google’s update as unimportant or damaging to your newsletter list, but it will strengthen it in the long run. The people receiving your content will be the ones who actively want to read it and engage with your brand – a marketers dream come true!
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