Back in 2009, Gmail Spam Czar (remember Czars!) Brad Taylor announced that Gmail had now made unsubscribing far easier than it was before.
Up until that point, the only option you had to vent your anger at spam was to report the email as such. If you wanted to unsubscribe, the only option was to risk the unsubscribe link in the email itself, which according to Gmail, could be risky.
There were those senders who tried to make it is easy as possible for recipients to unsubscribe, by having the unsubscribe link at the top of their template. Unfortunately, there were still many email marketers that wanted you on the list whether you wanted their email or not.
Brads announcement, heralded the beginning of Gmail giving feedback to senders (following the likes of Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo etc). Gmail was now giving recipients the opportunity to mark the email as spam AND unsubscribe from the email list the email was sent from.
Although this was restricted to legitimate senders only and those who could incorporate the ‘list unsubscribe’ header in their emails, it was a major step forward in the fight to reduce unwanted emails.
Shortly after this announcement, Gmail updated the process for those users that wanted to unsubscribe, without reporting the email as spam. Thanks Gmail.
On to the present day and to the latest change in Gmail, that……hold on to your hats……makes it easier to unsubscribe!
Is this good or bad you might say? Well, not only does it make it easier to unsubscribe by adding a prominent unsubscribe button alongside the senders name, it also makes it easier to unsubscribe than it is to mark as spam.
Not only that, but Gmail is also piloting a feedback loop for certain email senders, which will be using a different process to hand back complaints.
This is quite a turnaround for Gmail, which for a long time has held back from the closer relationship with senders that the other big ISPs enjoy.
Marketers have known for quite some time that using the complaint data, IP reputation data and inbox placement data provided by some ISPs actually helps improve the user’s experience.
Being able to use this additional complaint data will undoubtedly help marketers to improve the Gmail recipient’s experience. Maybe this is what Gmail want, but whether marketers want to use it or not, is a different matter.
This could deepen the divide between marketing emails sent using segmentation and those that are just bulk spam.
It will also help Gmail differentiate between good senders or bad, as the good senders will use the extra data to fine tune the content, segmentation and frequency of their email campaigns. The bad senders wont.
So, do I think this move by Gmail is a good one? Yes I do. Anything that helps marketers to improve their email marketing program is a positive move. Anything that ensures recipients are receiving emails they want is a positive move.
The more positive moves senders and receivers make, the stronger the email marketing channel becomes.