An Email Marketing Reminder from Gmail: You Don’t Control the Inbox

Posted by Scott Cohen On February 25, 2014 in story time I 0 Comments

In case you missed recent events, Gmail has added unsubscribe functionality to their UI. Lifehacker has a good, quick synopsis on this topic. (Okay, Gmail has had this for a while—they’re just making it much more obvious.)

And while the world assumes that email marketers are flipping out over this development, I offer you two reasons why I for 1) am not flipping out over this, and 2) believe this is actually a positive development for email marketers.

Reason 1: Email Marketers Don’t Have Control Over the Inbox.

This is just another reminder from the ISPs of the world that they (and, to a certain extent, their customers) control the inbox. ISPs don’t make money off of email marketing, so they’re in the business of protecting their networks and their customers—the users.

Email marketers don’t control whether their message gets delivered. They establish a sender reputation

The sooner email marketers can come to terms with that, the better off we’ll all be.

Reason 2: Unsubscribes are better than spam complaints

Unsubscribes and spam complaints both mean the same thing: People want off your list.

When that becomes the case, you want people to unsubscribe.

It may seem counterintuitive, but making the unsubscribe process easier to find and act upon is better. Unsubscribes don’t hurt your sender reputation (how ISPs see you and allow your messages to be delivered). And more unsubscribes tend to lower spam complaints—the type of negative engagement that hurts your program in the long term.

Here’s an anecdotal, personal experience case study that shows what I’m talking about:

In my previous life on the client side, I wanted to reduce spam complaints on a monthly newsletter I was sending out. I convinced my bosses that having the unsubscribe at the top and bottom of the email would likely reduce spam complaints.

The first month I tested my hypothesis, spam complaints were cut in half and unsubscribe rate only rose marginally. Mission accomplished.

What Gmail has done here is in many cases the equivalent of having an unsubscribe link at the top of your email. The numbers will show this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

So why do I think this is a positive for email marketers? You’re always going to lose subscribers. How you lose them is incredibly important. And, as I said, you want them to unsubscribe.

So, why not make it easy on your departing subscribers now and better for your email marketing program down the road?

Gmail seems to be helping in that capacity.

Just one email marketer’s opinion…

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