For marketers, it boils down to this: Do you make it hard or easy to find your unsubscribe feature in your email marketing campaigns?
Google made the decision for you with Gmail: It's easy. It's right at the top now.
Bottom line for marketers? This change should not affect your campaigns so long as your focus is on engaging content that creates legitimate customer prospects and not on building large marketing lists, said Ann Breckencamp, product manager for CommandIQ, a CRM platform provider.
"Too many marketers are overly concerned with just trying to keep people on their mailing list," Breckencamp said. "The silver lining in Google’s new unsubscribe feature is that it should get marketers to focus instead on what really matters: driving true engagement with subscribers on a one-to-one basis."
CMSWire talked to Breckencamp about how marketers can use the Gmail change as an impetus to make their email campaigns better.
Get Over Your List
What's a good general strategy regarding the unsubscribe feature for marketers?
Your primary concern should not be maintenance of your subscriber base -- or making sure no one drops off. Retention, engagement and revenue require happy customers, Breckencamp said. Not just customers, period.
"Simply keeping people on your list should not be a goal because it isn’t necessarily going to drive your bottom-line business," she said. "If you are building one-to-one relationships with your customers and they actually enjoy hearing from you, they will want to stay subscribed, and you will be in a better position to achieve your larger business objectives."
Keep your customer data up-to-date, no matter where it lives in your ecosystem.
Make it One-Click
One-click rocks. There's a company that puts out interesting industry webinars once a month or so, and this reporter always sign up. And not just because the topics are good: they have one-click registration.
"Anything other than a one-click unsubscribe option is probably irritating to someone who has already made the decision to be removed from a mailing list," Breckencamp said.
Are you creating a barrier to completing the unsubscribe process? Maybe requiring people to reply to the email with a special subject line or redirecting them to the company website where they can modify their email settings?
"Anything that takes more than a couple seconds of time is probably going to make the person feel like the company is trying to force, or even trick, him/her into staying on the list," Breckencamp said. "This has obviously been a turnoff to a large number of people. Thus the high frequency of legitimate marketing emails being marked as spam and the introduction of Gmail’s new unsubscribe feature."
Focus on Content Improvement
It's not about the unsubscribe feature. That shouldn't matter if a marketing campaign is effective.
Make your customer data actionable and start testing out more targeted campaigns. Start by improving your segments, creating more dynamic message content and adding follow-up interactions.