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If you use Gmail, then you know that the basic inbox and interface doesn’t change all too often – and when it does, usually it adds some new and shiny quality of life feature. Considering that our business is all about getting in contact with audiences via outlets like Gmail, naturally we take note when these kind of things pop up. With this in mind, it’s a great time to take a look at the new unsubscribe feature that you might have noticed on your latest email and what it means for you as a user and for the email marketing industry as a whole.

Out with the Old and In with the New

The best way to break this down is to look at how the unsubscribe feature used to work, and how users now access this functionality. Back in 2009, Gmail users had to expand the email details drop down tab and navigate to the actual unsubscribe feature, which would only accept the request after you had reported the email as spam. Even though that doesn’t sound like a lot, in an era of instant access to virtually anything on the Internet, it basically equates to a cross country trip for browsers who demand immediate gratification.

As part of the change, the new unsubscribe feature takes a place of prominence in the body of the delivered email. If you open up a new message on Gmail now, you’ll see an underlined option labeled “Unsubscribe” right next to the sender’s name. Taking our little cross-country analogy a step farther, this change is like bringing the unsubscribe feature not only to your city, but essentially having it move in next door.

What This Means for Gmail Users

Google’s message to Gmail users is loud and clear with this change – if you want to unsubscribe from a promotional email, it should be a simple and easy affair. Considering that Gmail already sorts emails into three basic tabs (primary, promotional, and social), it’s fairly telling that one of the most popular emails services on the web is pushing users to turn away from marketed emails. However, the reality of the situation boils down to a few simple truths. Some people will use the feature often, others won’t even realize it’s there for them to use, and then the rest – which make up the most important group in the eyes of any email marketer – actually want to receive valuable and engaging promotional offers.

Is This Bad for the Email Marketing Industry?

Obviously, nobody in the digital marketing industry wants to see anything that might nudge audiences in the direction of being less accessible. At first glance, it’s only natural to assume that this means email marketing is in for rough seas when it comes to navigating the waters of the Gmail user-base. However, there’s no need to stress – this isn’t exactly a doom and gloom scenario.

Consumers who didn’t connect with your offerings simply would have ignored the email anyway, so it works out to about the same outcome. What really matters is still having access to those who enjoy and engage with your content, which is still a readily available situation on Gmail and every other major mail platform. With this in hand, you can still build a smart and successful marketing initiative that keeps your brand in touch with the right audience.

What About Your Next Campaign?

Given that users have easier access to the unsubscribe feature on Gmail, avoiding a negative reaction will require you to continue offering high quality content, or take it up a notch to keep the viewer interested. Unfortunately for those who are running a barebones campaign that puts an emphasis on quantity over quality, Gmail users might not react so favorably with such a simple and expedient way of saying “No thanks.” To combat this, you’ll have to go above and beyond promotional emails and offer real value in the form of information or discounts to your audience. If you experience an initial backlash from your established contacts on Gmail, remember that patience is a virtue. Between quality offerings and a constant dedication to maintaining and growing your mailing list, the whole unsubscribe dilemma will move from a potential doomsday scenario to just a small footnote in the history of successful email marketing campaigns.

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