The Future of Unsubscribe – Email Thursday



If you’ve ever received an email you didn’t want, an email you were sick of seeing or one that you didn’t sign up for, you would most likely have hit “Mark As SPAM” and VOILA! No more unwanted email. For true SPAM, this is a very helpful and necessary part of the feedback loop. If you’re not sure what the feedback loop is, it’s essentially the flow of information from user to junk filter to email sender to Email Service Provider to Internet Service Provider and everyone in between. But that’s for a different installment.

What you see here are typical unsubscribe methods that you can see in most commercial or transactional emails. Sometimes you see it in the pre-header (the very first thing you see after the Subject Line) and other times you see it at the end of the message below the footer. Either way, it has to be there or it’s breaking the law (CAN-SPAM). Now, if you click the unsbuscribe link or respond to the email with a request to be removed from the list, the sending party has 10 days to remove you. Most will do it instantly, especially if you click the link. Clicking the link usually automates the process and you are immediately removed.

However, these days we’re all VERY busy. We have little time to clean up our ever-flooded inboxes and to separate the good from the bad from the plain old ugly and uninteresting. In addition, most email clients (web-based for the most part) have placed the SPAM button in the same vicinity as the MOVE, REPLY, and DELETE buttons. This makes it just too easy to hit the SPaAM button for email that isn’t actually spam. Rather than unsubscribing, many will just hit spam since it’s convenient and it’s RIGHT THERE. You’ve probably done it, I know I have. The issue with this is that although it does generally unsubscribe you from the list, it also levies a complaint against the sender. If you signed up to receive emails from Company ABC and you simply get tired of their thrice-weekly emails, hitting SPAM isn’t really fair. But many still do it.

But now, some email service providers such as Google Mail are offering an Unsbubscribe link that is always in the same place and requires nothing more than simply clicking and moving on. Currently, this is not available for all emails, it depends on a few things such as the original unsubscribe link in the email, it’s placement and if it is a link to a preference center or a simple unsubscribe link. Also, it is only viewable by opening the email and viewing all of the header information. However, it does work and it’s pretty cool.

I think that in the future, we’ll see the ability to unsubscribe from emails much more easily. There are ideas being floated around that perhaps the SPAM button may be replaced by the unsubscribe button if the email address of the sender is in your address book. Seeing as this is one of the major ways a sender is verified as a reliable and safe source, it can also act as a means towards unsubscribing thus keeping the customer, sender, ESP and ISP’s all happy.