Is Unsubscribe Going Native A Threat?

By Sara Parra, 28 February 2018

New native mail services are emerging allowing users to unsubscribe without first opening the email. Inevitable perhaps, as providers like Google and Yahoo look for innovative ways to help us manage our overflowing email inboxes. In a recent study by email software providers Litmus and Fluent, 67% of us unsubscribe from promotional emails because we receive too many from the same sender and 66% because we are no longer interested in the offering. If you’re a sender to these subscription lists what’s the answer? Should you just accept you’re going to lose people faster? Or actually is this good news for you too?

Email trend commentators picked up on the new development at the very end of last year.

Inbox by Google now shows a tip card on top of emails with a suggestion to unsubscribe when a user has not opened emails from a given sender for one month. As a native mail feature the user can unsubscribe directly without having to open the email. No searching for ‘unsubscribe links buried deep in footer text, or clicking questions confirming the reasons for leaving. It’s now a swift and painless goodbye.

Picture1Source: Android Police

Yahoo! Mail is experimenting with something similar. In this case, instead of relying on the user’s inactivity, Yahoo! Mail provides the option to unsubscribe from promotional emails if a user is deleting emails in bulk. There is also the option to automatically archive emails from a specific sender if the user prefers to park them out of site without reading. More of a long lingering goodbye, but probably still goodbye in the end nonetheless.

text 1Source:Litmus

Although Inbox by Google and Yahoo! Mail are considered outsiders in the world of email servicing, it’s likely that other email providers will jump on the bandwagon.

So, what does this mean for your next email campaign?

On the one hand, this new feature will keep your contact databases bang up-to-date. Data cleansing tasks won’t be so arduous, as inactive users will periodically disappear from your lists. Plus, if users take time to regularly clean their own subscriptions it means that your remaining subscribers are likely to be more valuable and genuinely interested in what you have to say.

On the other hand, unsubscribe suggestions reduce your chances of re-engaging inactive users. However, it’s important to emphasise that it’s not clear what Gmail does with all emails not opened in four weeks.

The approaches being tested seem drastic and slightly heavy-handed.  What’s more, they don’t necessarily chime with how people use emails. Variables such as sending frequency, seasonality and specific consumer needs need to be considered to be of real value to the consumer.

Being a fairly new feature, it’s difficult to measure the real impact it will have on email campaigns. Until more information is available, it remains important to track and analyse the behaviour of unsubscribers and all contacts exposed to these new tools.

And of course, to keep your email database happy and engaged it will always help to apply best practices. 

  • Provide users with a clear and easily accessible preferences page where they can choose the communications they want to receive. 
  • Perform A / B split tests regularly to better understand what makes subscribers open and click. 
  • Focus on offering content that has had a better response.
  • Use email automations for key behaviours.

And remember that ultimately, sending relevant content is the best way to keep your contacts subscribed. 

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