Over the weekend you may have heard news picking up about a new feature within Gmail which allows recipients to unsubscribe from marketing newsletters in a single click.

The coverage, by ITWorld, detailed:

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.

The case by Google, directed at businesses using email, that the new addition is a good thing is based around the notion that subscribers who no longer want to receive emails may inadvertently mark the emails as spam rather than taking the steps to unsubscribe – thus giving the sender a red flag.

Not long ago Gmail introduced a tabbed system for the inbox which had many marketers up in arms since their emails were being delivered to secondary tabs instead of directly to the inbox.

The combination of these two features could prove difficult for marketers to reach their subscribers though it’s yet to see how great of an impact it may have at this stage of adoption.

The numbers, now dated, show Gmail is being used by more than 425 million users.

Moving Forward with Gmail & Marketing

The question that pops up, now, is what to do about these changes?

Businesses (and individuals) may be required to shift their email strategy in light of these new developments – though much of the effort falls back to best practices which should already be in place.

To play it on the safe side:

  • Increase the quality of the opt-in – Use specific landing pages with clear copy to help users understand exactly what to expect if/when they sign up for your list. Include additional forms, if need be, such as a phone number or full name to deter those individuals seeking a free download or one-time coupon code with no intention of following the newsletter.
  • Increase the value of the email – Treat your email as segregated platform from your main offering. Create content that is exclusive to those subscribing to give them a sense of inclusion into a tighter community. In many ways – make the email more valuable that what you offer on the website. This will increase their interest in subscribing and keeping up-to-date with each new email delivered.
  • Avoid the over hype – Avoid trigger keywords that will mark your email for spam or over hyping the content which leads to the feeling of a bait-and-switch. You’re more than welcome to test the headlines to appeal to the emotions but don’t let them down once they’ve clicked through to the content otherwise you’ll only make them disgruntled and willing to unsubscribe (or worse – mark it as spam).
  • Conduct regular audits – Use the built-in tools and resources within your preferred email client to remove emails of those that no longer respond or have dropped off in activity. Cut the cord, early, and avoid any confusion if/when they come back around to reading the email (to which they may already be out of the loop). Stick to those that take action.

In all – step up your email marketing game.

  • Introduce HTML emails if you’ve yet to give them a try
  • Test headlines within a small group before sending it to the main list
  • Don’t force feed readers with a pitch every email
  • Offer content that makes it worthwhile to stay subscribed

Google is throwing marketers a curveball but we can’t be too distraught. Ultimately these new features are put in place to aid Gmail users. If it leads to a better experience, for them, and challenges your ideas of email marketing (forcing you to do better) then it’s driving us in the right direction.

With that being said … what is your take on this new, easier way to unsubscribe? Do you feel it will hamper your email marketing efforts? What strategies will you put in place to ensure deliverability and satisfaction from your email campaigns?