Gmail rolls out new one-click unsubscribe button. What does this mean for e-marketers?

Mar 11th, 2014

Gmail users can now unsubscribe from unwanted emails in one click, without even leaving the Gmail interface, Google has announced

The proclamation was made by the search engine giant at an email marketing conference in San Francisco earlier this month.

Gmail’s new one-click trick cleverly detects when an email has been sent to a large mailing list by a mass sender and places an ‘unsubscribe’ button next to that sender’s address within the user’s inbox.

This handy new feature will no doubt be welcomed by Gmail users, as the process of unsubscribing from unwanted mail has rarely been made easy – up until now. “Enter this verification code to prove you are not a robot”. “Are you sure you want to opt-out of our emails?” “Click this link to confirm”. You know the drill.

However, stamping out unwanted emails no longer warrants a magnifying glass and a year’s worth of patience to effectively locate and make use of the unsubscribe button. The process for Gmail users now really is a case of ‘click it and you’re done’.

So, what impact will Gmail’s new functionality have upon the world of email marketing? Well, Google’s announcement has received a mixed response from e-marketers, some of whom feel that the size of their database will diminish rapidly as users take advantage of the easy auto-unsubscribe facility.

If Gmail’s new unsubscribe button is to change the email marketing landscape for the better, let’s hope that the rest of the popular email clients follow suit

Surely though, this new functionality is a giant leap forward for inbound marketers? Who wants to send out their valuable, quality content to a mailing list full of uninterested, irritated recipients who are probably going to mark that content as spam anyway? Not us.

The higher the percentage of uninterested users who mark a company’s emails as spam – usually because they can’t find the unsubscribe button – the higher that company’s spam score is likely to be. A high spam score can lead to deliverability issues for genuine companies in the future.

However, with Gmail’s prominent unsubscribe button, users are protected from the frustration surrounding unwanted emails and, in turn, companies who send genuine emails are protected from being unfairly marked as spam by users who simply aren’t interested in their content.

Google’s anti-abuse researcher, Elie Bursztein, assures marketing companies that Google are attempting to strike the right balance between keeping Gmail users happy without alienating businesses. “We want our users to not have spam, and we also want you to reach the user”, says Bursztein.

Indeed, email marketers who produce high quality content and target the relevant audience demographic shouldn’t be hurt by Gmail’s new feature; why would users unsubscribe from emails that they find to be genuinely valuable? When mail is targeted to the right people, email marketing is still considered to be a highly effective marketing tactic.

According to a study by Exact Target, 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications in email format. A separate study conducted by the Inbound Marketing Agents reveals that 75% of all survey respondents say that email is their preferred marketing tactic and of the total time spent using email, 30% is dedicated to commercial emails.

These statistics emphasise that, as long as email marketing companies are providing genuinely valuable content via emails, the relevant users will be interested in them; it’s all about targeting the right audiences at the right time through inbound marketing.

And of course, it’s important to note that Gmail doesn’t currently dominate the list of most popular email clients. In fact, while Google is a search engine giant, its email service isn’t currently at the top of the list of most-used email clients. In the Litmus Email Analytics report published in January 2014, Gmail was voted number four in the list of most popular email clients, with the Apple iPhone, Outlook and Apple iPad taking the first, second and third spots.

If Gmail’s new unsubscribe button is to change the email marketing landscape for the better, let’s hope that the rest of the popular email clients follow suit. Allowing users to easily unsubscribe from unwanted emails will filter out the irritated, uninterested recipients and inbound marketers can send their content out to people who value it – everyone’s happy.

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