Everybody Panic! Google Adds Unsubscribe Link to Emails

April 16, 2014
Google adds unsubscribe links to email headers

As of February 2014, you might have noticed small “Unsubscribe” links appearing in the headers of some of the promotional emails you receive. This is an attempt by Google to fight spam, and it’s making some companies nervous. Fortunately there’s nothing to worry about — provided you’re following the rules.

What Google’s doing

With not enough companies adhering to 2003’s CAN-SPAM Act, Google has taken matters into its own hands.

In Gmail, Google is now adding unsubscribe links to the headers of emails it thinks might be unwanted messages from marketers or spammers.

  • Clicking the link does not unsubscribe the individual; rather, it triggers an email from Google to the sender requesting they remove the person from future mailings.
  • The link does not appear on what Google considers “obvious” spam (Nigerian princes rejoice!), as sending an unsubscribe message to a spammer can lead to more spam.

The idea is to make it as easy as possible for individuals to send unsubscribe requests they know are being received, and for marketers to keep their email lists clean and CAN-SPAM-compliant.

Put down the torches

“First Gmail tabs and now this, Google? Giving people more ways not to see my content? Whyyyyy…?!”

Before you head down to Google headquarters with your pitchfork or start hyperventilating into a brown paper bag about your mailing lists’ impending decimation, remember that this only affects bad guys — and you’re a good guy.

Every one of your emails complies with CAN-SPAM laws, and your email lists are legitimate and clean.

They are, right?

If so, you’re golden. Assuming you follow the law (and the best practices listed below), Google’s change will not affect you any more than a piece of floating flotsam would have a Megaladon.

Just keep on being an awesome email marketer.

Memorize these email best practices

Keep CAN-SPAM compliant

If you’re not following the rules set forth in the 2003 act, start doing so immediately.

Not only does this protect consumers by cutting down on spammy emails, it also protects you and your company from being sued and/or taken to court.

Start using a reputable, CAN-SPAM-compliant email platform like Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, or Constant Contact.

You may have to scrap an email list that you’ve purchased or built in other legitimate ways. This hurts, but let’s face it: those people probably aren’t actually interested in hearing from you anyway.

It’s always better to have a smaller list with interested, engaged followers than a large one you bought from a service.

Set — and meet — expectations

Make it very clear to prospects and customers when they are signing up to receive emails, what kind of emails they’re going to get, and how often they will get them.

Then stick to what you’ve said.

Make your emails too good to unsubscribe from

Every email you send out should be pleasing to the eye and supremely helpful.

Solve your customers’ problems. Make them laugh. Educate them. Inspire them. Give them content that’s worth sharing with their contacts and on social media.

It’s not easy to do consistently, but it sure is good for your business.

Change is good

All Google’s addition to email headers does is make it easier for people who aren’t interested in your content — and who therefore probably aren’t interested in buying from you or talking about you to others — to stop getting your emails, freeing up your list to be full of only people who want to hear from you.

Your list wins. You win. This is never a bad thing.

Need help with email marketing?

Email marketing is one of the easiest ways to keep in touch with prospects after they’ve hung up the phone or left your website.

If your email marketing needs a refresh, we’d love to help. Drop us a line to learn how we can get your email lists in shape and generating revenue.

Let’s get started!

[Image: Krysten Newby