More Changes from Gmail: Unsubscribe Link, Feedback Loop

Attention, email marketers: In a move that surprises no one, Gmail is changing things yet again. Google’s ultra-popular email service is now featuring unsubscribe buttons for marketing messages, and a limited-data feedback loop for campaign senders.

Like the introduction of the tabbed interface, this doesn’t sound like good news on the surface for email marketers—but in many ways, the new features are actually helpful.

The unsubscribe button

This new feature can be found at the top of Gmail messages, in the upper left corner of opened emails. It’s fairly prominent, and might be the first thing subscribers notice when they start reading.

So how is it good news that Gmail is emphasizing the unsubscribe option? This makes it easier for people to remove themselves from your list—which is actually much better for your reputation and effectiveness than having people click the Spam button when they don’t want any more emails, because they can’t find the unsubscribe option (or don’t want to bother looking for it).

A recent study from Mailchimp based on 4.6 billion Gmail sends indicates that the unsubscribe button has not increased unsubscribe rates. What’s more, not every sender—or even every email from a particular sender—will have the unsubscribe button added in Gmail. There are specific conditions your unsubscribe rules have to meet first.

The feedback loop

Other ISPs, including Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL, have been providing email senders with this service for years. Feedback loops let senders know that their subscribers have reported them as spam, and help senders correct any problems to remain compliant—and to keep their email lists healthy.

Gmail has historically lacked this feature, until now.

The feedback loop from Gmail differs slightly from regular spam complaint reports. Gmail doesn’t like to share its user information, so email addresses are not included with the reports. However, they do break them down by campaign, so you can tell which of your mailings results in reports of spam.

The earlier tabbed interface, and the new unsubscribe button and feedback loop, point to Gmail doing more to make sure their users aren’t annoyed by their inboxes. And since that’s a rule every email marketer should follow anyway, Gmail’s new rules shouldn’t cause many problems for your campaigns.


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