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Why Gmail’s unsubscribe link will not be a blow to email marketers

AdWeek published an article by Ed Lamb last week claiming that the addition of a Gmail unsubscribe link in the header of incoming emails will contribute to the death of email marketing as we know it. I beg to differ. Here’s why you shouldn’t worry.

Google announced on the 6th of August that it will now include a native Gmail unsubscribe link next to the sender’s name.

Gmail Unsubscribe Link

Following its ‘do no evil’ mantra, Google argued that this move benefits both senders and receivers:

“Making the unsubscribe option easy to find is a win for everyone. For email senders, their mail is less likely to be marked as spam and for you, you can now say goodbye to sifting through an entire message for that one pesky link.”

However, Lamb and AdWeek decided to stay on the dark side for this one, stating:

“Direct marketers everywhere, though, are probably having their week darkened by the announcement because […] the churn rates for their lists are about to jump.”

Reasons why Gmail’s unsubscribe link shouldn’t affect you:

  1. For promotional emails sent in the EU, USA and Canada, senders need to provide an unsubscribe link in order to comply with local legislation. So the link is already there, placing it at the top will not be reinventing the wheel.
  2. As Google itself declared, this will help the reputation of the IP address used to send email, because it reduces the chances of being marked as spam.
  3. If your subscribers want to leave or get rid of your emails, they will do it no matter how long the journey to the link/button is.
  4. If indeed your numbers go down, you should be looking at the causes behind it:
  • Is your data as clean as it can be? If you purchase lists and keep old contacts that don’t engage with your emails, then unsubscribes might go up. However, this will leave you with a list of people that want to hear from you, that are engaged with your emails and that want to do business with you. What is the point of it otherwise?
  • Are you sending relevant and interesting content? It might be that your subscribers don’t find your emails helpful anymore. So remind them why they subscribed in the first place, or let them go.
  • Are you offering your subscribers the chance to set preferences? They want to hear from you, they find your content worthwhile, but your emails arrive too often. Why not setup a preference center where they could choose what to receive and when to get it?

If your goal is to have as many people on your list as possible – regardless of how relevant they are to your business – then sure, Lamb is right. The new Gmail unsubscribe link is then ‘a potential nightmare for email marketers, who work diligently to keep their list numbers as high as possible’.

But any email marketer abiding best practice knows better than that.

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