Posted February 25, 2014 7:05 am by with 3 comments

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Almost all marketing emails (legit ones, anyway), come with a clear unsubscribe link in the footer. But Google says that’s not good enough. They’ve taken it upon themselves to save Gmail users from the rigorous action of having to scroll all the way to the bottom of an email by adding an unsubscribe link in the email header.

Here’s one from my Gmail box.

unsub button

There it is, right after the return address for the sender – a simple, underlined Unsubscribe. But that’s not all.

When you click a traditional unsub button, you’re transported to another page where you might have to confirm your email address or which services you want to stop. Many will also ask you why you’re unsubscribing (I dislike those) and some actual get angry with you for leaving. (Seriously, if you have one of those screens, it’s not funny. Stop it.)

When you click this new Unsubscribe button, all you get is a pop-up asking you to confirm your decision. Then Gmail takes care of the rest.

They call it Auto-Unsubscribe:

We don’t think you should be burdened with managing messages you don’t want to receive. We do our best to put messages in Spam when we’re pretty sure you won’t want or need them. But everyone has different preferences about the mail they want to see. You may not want to read any messages sent by a certain company or mailing list, while another Gmail user finds these same messages to be valuable.

To help solve this problem, we’re providing you with an unsubscribe tool for some messages. You’ll see the unsubscribe tool when you mark a message from particular types of mailing lists as spam. If the particular message is a misuse of a mailing list you like to receive, you can Report spam as usual. But if you never want to receive another message or newsletter from that list again, click Unsubscribe instead. We’ll send a request to the sender that your email address be removed from the list. It’s that simple!

What bothers me about this paragraph is the negative tone. They reference misuse and spam and “if you never want to receive another message from that list again!”  Wow, harsh. 90% of the time, I unsubscribe because I was interested and now I’m not. The brand didn’t spam me or do anything to make me angry, I’m just in a different place and this brand isn’t a good fit any more.

It always seems like Google is siding with consumers against businesses when it’s businesses who pay the bills.

Big picture, it’s probably not going to cause a huge increase in unsubscribes. If it does, it’s because that person wasn’t interested anyway, so no great loss. But still, I’m getting tired of online tools and networks rearranging my content for for my own good.

Note to Gmail and Facebook – I’m perfectly capable of deciding what I want to see and not see without any help from you.

What do you think? Will Gmail’s easy unsub button be a problem for email marketers or not so much?

  • Good find, Cynthia! I agree with you that Google really should stop bullying the marketers who also buy advertising, thus, paying the bills. I noticed this feature was pseudo-built-in about a year ago when marketing legitimate spam as such, I was prompted with a “Google can also attempt to unsubscribe you…” message. I appreciate the extra effort on my behalf when I’ve gone so far as hit the “spam” button, but I think this is a little much.

    As for me as a marketer, I’ve been begging my email marketing SAAS to add the “why are you leaving” comment box because I’ve found some constructive criticism there with other email SAAS providers before.

    • cynthialil

      Bullying! Perfect word. That’s how I felt when I saw that message. And yes, this is a variation of a couple of things Google has been testing but it looks like this is a wide roll-out for everyone.

      As for “why are you leaving.” I can see where it’s of value, for me none of the options really apply. More often than not, I’m leaving because it doesn’t suit my current interests – for example, I was in a crafting mode so I subbed to all sorts of crafting companies. Crafting didn’t go so well, so I’m no longer interested in those newsletters. I want a button that says, good content, but I’ve moved on. LOL.

  • There’s also a huge difference between Spam and email you don’t need. I don’t NEED half the messages in my inbox, but they’re not spam. I opted into the list, I just don’t read every single message from the sender. I feel like people who get their definition of Spam from that message are going to really mess things up for email marketers.