Fact is, when Google speaks, even if you don’t exactly like what you hear, you don’t have much choice but to listen. The world of email marketing learned this lesson once again with the unveiling of a new unsubscribe feature in Gmail on August 6, 2014. Although switching up the Gmail inbox interface in generally isn’t anything new, moving the button that handles taking people off of mailing lists certainly shakes things up quite a bit. To bring you up to speed with this change, as well as what it means for your marketing operations moving forward, here’s everything you need to know about Google’s revamped approach to unsubscribe buttons.
What Exactly Happened?
For casual Gmail users around the world, the change that’s sending waves through the email marketing industry is one that isn’t even all that noticeable. As the Gmail team explained in a post on Google+, the unsubscribe button will now “surface” or move to the top of the message, next to the name of the sender, if such a button exists within the body of the message. Of course, if you’re a marketer or brand looking to stay on the right side of CASL, there are no ifs, ands, or buts when it comes to unsubscribe buttons; either you have one or you run the risk of feeling the long arm of the law loom over your campaign.
Pushing Back Against Spam
So what does Google hope to accomplish by employing automated button placement in all incoming messages moving forward? As Konrad Krawcyzk of Digital Trends explains, this move is all about kicking spam to the curb for good. Instead of letting shady senders hide or bury unsubscribe buttons deep within the message content, the tech giant is taking the wheel on this issue and saying no to these less than transparent practices. However, it’s important to note that Google isn’t changing the basic makeup of messages; the incoming email still has to have an unsubscribe button, otherwise this change doesn’t do anything. However, it’s now easier than ever before for users of one of the most popular email clients on the web to turn off messages from spammers and legitimate brands alike.
Is the Sky Falling?
After reading all of that, your first reaction probably registers somewhere between disbelief and a sense of complete dread regarding the future of your brand’s marketed messages. However, it’s not nearly as bad as it initially sounds. Whether it’s creating tabbed dividers for promotional emails in the inbox or tweaking how images appear in the body of messages, Google’s made a name for itself when it comes to constantly breaking the mold in an effort to improve the user experience.
As far as this particular change goes, you might see a little dip in your subscriber numbers from this client now that the change is live, but as Anne P. Mitchell of The Internet Patrol notes in her coverage of the change, there’s definitely a silver lining to this development for affected brands. Instead of having users incorrectly flag your messages as spam, which does way more harm than just watching these users leave the contact list, readers can just end the relationship with a simple click.
Aside from refining your contacts by cutting out the people who probably weren’t going to convert anyway, this change could also help provide enhanced, and more accurate, click-through and open rates. For some ISPs, these ratios serve as the deciding factor between seeing your message land in the inbox with other legit offerings or languishing in the spam folder with the riff-raff.
Predicting Google’s Next Move
Unfortunately, there’s no real way to predict what’s next on Google’s agenda when it comes to fighting spam and, often inadvertently, changing the way you connect with your audience via email marketing. The truth is that when the guys pulling the strings at Gmail make a move, all you can do is sit back and watch. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re completely helpless.
Regardless of what Google does, as long as you place a premium on quality and consistency in your messages, you’ll be just fine. These rules and changes to the structure of Gmail aren’t designed to ruin your campaign, but rather to ensure that quality content takes a place that’s far above spam in the inbox. As long as you stick to honest and powerful methods that keep you in this group, you’ll have everything you need to weather the storm if, and when, the next big change to this email client sets the newswires aflame.