August 7, 2014, 12:11 PM

What Gmail making the ‘unsubscribe link’ more prominent means to marketers

It will likely lead more shoppers to unsubscribe from e-mail lists. But that’s a good thing, says one expert.

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Gmailis making it easier for consumers to unsubscribe from marketers’ e-mail lists.

Google Inc.’s e-mail service yesterday announced that it has begun placing an “unsubscribe” link at the top of marketers’ Gmail messages that appear in users’ “promotions,” “social” or “forums” tabs to make it easier for consumers to unsubscribe from e-mail lists. The link will not appear if a marketer’s message appears in a user’s primary tab.

“Making the unsubscribe option easy to find is a win for everyone,” writes Gmail in a Google Plus post. “For e-mail senders, their mail is less likely to be marked as spam and for you, you can now say goodbye to sifting through an entire message for that one pesky link.”

While the move will likely lead to more consumers unsubscribing from marketers’ e-mail lists, that should ultimately help marketers, says Chad White, lead research analyst at e-mail marketing service provider ExactTarget.

“Having a more prominent unsubscribe link may put the idea to unsubscribe in users’ heads,” he says. “But the people who are most likely to do so are those who don’t get value from marketers’ e-mails, who are most likely to become inactive and who are the most likely to complain.”

Moreover, making it easier to click the “unsubscribe” link should lead to fewer consumers clicking Gmail’s Spam button, which is far more costly to marketers because it hurts their reputations with e-mail inbox providers like Google, Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Comcast.

“Gmail wants to see that people are interacting with marketers’ e-mails,” White says. “While marketers don’t want people to unsubscribe, that may be a better option than them hitting delete without reading an e-mail or hitting the Spam button. This is the least bad option because it doesn’t hurt the sender’s reputation.”

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