Email marketers have a tough job and Google generally does not make it easier. First, the company introduced an automated spam filter with mysterious and constantly-changing rules. Then it rolled out the “Promotions” tab which automatically moved all marketing emails out of the primary inbox. And just recently, Gmail has released a new unsubscribe button which simplifies the process for users to unsubscribe from email lists. In a Google Plus post last week, the company explains: “Now when a sender includes an “Unsubscribe” link in a Promotions, Social or Forums message, Gmail will surface it to the top, right next to the sender address. If you’re interested in the message’s content, it won’t get in the way, and if not, it’ll make it easier to keep your inbox clutter-free.”
On the surface this would appear to be the latest hurdle for retailers in a never-ending battle for inbox real estate. After all, Gmail is making it easier for consumers to unsubscribe and I am sure many marketers fear that consumers will do just that! It is a legitimate concern, but I don’t think it is going to turn out that way. Sure – if you’re aimlessly sending out irrelevant emails featuring products your customers have expressed zero interest in, then maybe you have reason to fear. But frankly if that’s how you’ve been conducting your marketing campaigns then you likely don’t have a very big (or effective) email list to begin with.
Instead, I view the update as another push in the right direction for email marketers. My hope is that instead of viewing this as a kiss of death – as done with previous Gmail changes – email marketers will take the opportunity to further differentiate themselves by delivering the relevant, personalized content consumers are demanding. And as Sucharita Mulpuru, Forrester Research analyst, discussed with Money, the change could actually improve marketers’ ability to reach a more targeted, loyal audience. Those that continue to receive your emails, “…are [the] people who love marketing emails – that’s the reason they still stay subscribed to email lists in the first place.”
Do I expect a number of marketers will see a drop in subscribers over the next few months? Probably, but I think of this as a form of list hygiene as opposed to the death of email marketing. My bet is those folks were already ignoring your emails and could not even be bothered to unsubscribe before. They were definitely not helping your numbers, so the impact of the official unsubscribe is minimal.
As long as marketers continue to strive to be as relevant as possible in every communication – which is the focus of what CQuotient does! – then this change by Google won’t make any impact. What do you think of the Gmail unsubscribe button, and has the news changed your email marketing strategy? Connect with us on Twitter and share your thoughts.