Google recently implemented an unsubscribe link at the top of every email within Gmail that gets funneled into its “promotions” tab. While Google still hasn’t revealed how it determines what emails are promotional, we assume any newsletter or ecommerce email can end up in “promotions”. For consumers, that means content from brands is not only harder to access, but also easier than ever to get rid of. But is this new reality really bad news for marketers?

This is in line with Gmail’s focus on user-driven customization

Google’s reason for embedding the unsubscribe link at the top of the email is to allow each user to completely customize their email inbox experience. We’ve seen this before from Gmail with its customizable tab interface, and the multitude of other UX-inspired decisions in recent years. It’s all about putting the user-first and offering the best experience.

Perhaps it drives more opt-outs, but delivery rates should rise

With the unsubscribe link front and center in every promotional email, marketers may panic that this will increase opt-out rates. While there’s no denying that opt-out rates have the potential to rise, this change from Gmail is better for a marketer’s long term reputation with Google. Since the user can now find the unsubscribe link at the top of each email (instead of trying to find it buried in the footer) they’re less likely to report the email as SPAM and instead simply unsubscribe. In turn, many brands may experience improved delivery rates with Gmail.

All in all, not a surprising move from Google

Google’s change is in line with what we’ve been saying all along: make it easy for your users to unsubscribe. At Sailthru we advise all of our clients to follow this methodology, so it’s awesome to see a massive shift towards this user-first mentality.

Placing an unsubscribe link at the top of an email’s design sets a precedent that a brand cares about its users. By explicitly showing that you aren’t trying to trick or dissuade them from opting-out if your content isn’t of interest, you highly increase the probability that they will want to engage with your brand. That’s a win-win in our book.