Gmail is making their native unsubscribe functionality much more prominent, placing their "unsubscribe" link right after the "from" name in the Gmail interface. Previously it was typically hidden in a dropdown menu.
As before, Gmail only adds the native "unsubscribe" link to emails that include the list-unsubscribe header and-critically-only if the sender already has a great sender reputation. If that describes you, the question you're asking yourself is: Should I use this feature?
YESâ¦if you use a one-click unsubscribe process.
The percentage of brands that use a one-click-and-you're-out process is low. Most brands at least ask for confirmation of the opt-out on an unsubscribe page to protect against accidental clicks on their "unsubscribe" link.
However, if you're among the brands that do use a one-click opt-out process, then there's no reason not enable Gmail's native "unsubscribe" link. Your opt-out process is all about no barriers, so this just strengthens that message to subscribers.
YESâ¦for your welcome emails.
Sometimes new subscribers have second thoughts about signing up when they get that first email or two. Perhaps they didn't notice your pre-checked signup box during checkout. Maybe they were the very rare victims of a malicious signup.
Whatever the reason, subscribers should be able to easily opt out from any welcome email. Better an opt-out than a spam complaint. And if you're sending a welcome email series, enable the Gmail unsubscribe for all of those, not just the first.
MAYBE NOTâ¦for your promotional emails if you handle opt-outs through a highly effective preference center.
I'm a big fan of giving subscribers options besides opting out. Receiving too many emails or emails that aren't relevant are consistently the two biggest reasons people opt out. So why not try to address those reasons by giving subscribers the ability to opt-down to receive emails less frequently or to change their topic preferences?
A large minority of brands currently do this, and some are able to reduce opt-outs dramatically this way. If your preference center is really good at reducing churn, you may not want to allow subscribers to circumvent this by enabling Gmail's native unsubscribe. However, if your preference center is only marginally effective at reducing churn, you're probably better off enabling list-unsubscribe.
REGARDLESS of what you chooseâ¦
Over time, Gmail and Outlook.com's native unsubscribe will raise expectations for easy opt-outs. Other ISPs may follow suit and add their own. And the functionality may be extended to more senders.
To compete, make sure that your "unsubscribe" link is easy to find at a glance. The days of hiding it in a block of footer text in the hope of reducing opt-outs are long gone. Make it stand out in your footer by (1) isolating it; (2) making it larger, bolder or brighter; and (3) repeating it as a button or in the preheader or header.
The rise of native unsubscribes will also raise expectations for simpler unsubscribe pages and preference centers. I advocate following the 2-click opt-out rule-that is, it should take no more than one click in the email and one click on the landing page to opt out.
Staples' opt-out process is a great example of this. Their preference center-which is accessible through either the "Unsubscribe" or "Update your email preferences" links in their emails-gives you the option to update your email address, opt-down to two emails a week, or to unsubscribe completely. Each option is confirmable with a single click.
If your unsubscribe process isn't that easy, take this as your cue to begin a review and reevaluation.