Gmail’s Gift to Marketers: The Unsubscribe Button
As the number of Gmail users continues to grow, so does the number of changes to the popular ISP. Recently, Gmail introduced a more prominent unsubscribe button, one which allows users to unsubscribe without even opening an email.
Marketers naturally feared the worst. They expected a mass exodus from their email lists and a drop in engagement. In reality, marketers should join consumers in thanking Gmail for the change.
Consumer behavior won't change
Consumers have been unsubscribing from marketing emails since they were invented, regardless of how easy it was to do so. In the past, Gmail users could only unsubscribe from email lists if the marketing email provider included their own button within the email, or users could mark the email as spam within Gmail's landscape.
Gmail users are a tech-savvy and engaged group. They know where the unsubscribe button is and how to use it, but the recent change empowers them to continue using Gmail and interacting with marketing emails. With this "unsubscribe" capability extended into Gmail, marketers get more information from Google.
Most importantly, it tells them to gravitate toward unsubscribe rather than spam. The spam option is harmful to marketers because it raises a red flag for the ISP and might affect deliverability for all users. It's better for some people to unsubscribe from your list than mark you as spam, so you can still reach those who want to hear from you.
What marketers need to realize is if people want to unsubscribe, they're going to find a way to do it. By making it easier for them to hit "unsubscribe" rather than "spam," marketers are better off — they're receiving beneficial rather than detrimental feedback.
When Gmail users click the email platform's unsubscribe button, they instantaneously give Google and marketers valuable information about them. Marketers can find out information about the types of emails that their consumers find valuable, which will help them adapt future email marketing campaigns.
Gmail promises to release reports very soon to marketers that will provide greater insight into Gmail user preferences. It's still too early to tell, but we can expect the reports to include information about which email prompted a user to unsubscribe, so marketers can observe trends and make adjustments. Gmail's prominent unsubscribe button is simply another way for marketers to collect information about their subscribers.
This change is still fairly new, so we haven't seen all of its effects. Marketers should keep a close eye on the performance of their email marketing campaigns for the next few months to see how they're performing. It's still too early to give any examples of companies that have benefitted from the feature, but there are measures marketers can take to limit the number of people unsubscribing from their emails. They should follow general email marketing best practices such as including company branding in the email, making sure users understand why they're receiving messages from the brand and limiting the number of emails they send.
This change is a win-win situation. Consumers win because they have better email usability, which always makes them happy. Marketers win because they gain improved insights about their customers and don't lose opportunities to connect with others because they're marked as spam, and Google keeps its users and customers happy. In general, marketers shouldn't fear changes to Gmail or other ISPs, but rather look for ways to gain a better idea of who their subscribers are based on their feedback.
Bob Sybydlo has been with Yesmail for over six years now and is currently the director of market intelligence and deliverability.