How will Gmail's New Block & Unsubscribe feature affects you?

Written by Mayank Tomar on October 13, 2015

"Sometimes you get mail from someone who's really disruptive," said Sri Harsha Somanchi, Product Manager at Google. When that happens, you should be able to say, 'never see messages from this person again.

And that's how the new block feature got introduced in Gmail. Google in its efforts to give users control over their inbox has launched two new features a Block and Unsubscribe, made available on desktop and Gmail mobile app.

Gmail's new Block feature

Gmail will now allow users to block emails from specific email addresses. This definitely seems like a respite for many users. On blocking email addresses, emails from those senders will directly move into the spam folder. And in case the user has a change of mind, all he has to do is unblock to start receiving emails from that sender. The three dot menu within Gmail will show this new option. It is different from the report spam as it would not be complaint to Gmail. It is also different from Unsubscribe feature in the sense that we won't be receiving any feedback loop for this complaint.

Below screenshot depicts Block feature on the Gmail app on the android phone & desktop:


Gmails Unsubscribe feature

Along with the Block feature, Gmail has also extended the Unsubscribe option to its app users. While the Block feature allows users to put all future mails in spam directly; unsubscribe will be a feedback loop for Gmail.


3 Things to keep in mind to ensure you do not end up in trouble with these new features:

1. Understand user behavior and send what is relevant to users:
Right segmented mailing always yields better output than usual batch & blast approach is a well-known norm. But with this new development in Gmail, it becomes really important that you dig into your data and only send what is relevant to your users. In recent times we have also observed that irrelevant emails affect the sender reputation as there is no user engagement.

An email campaign asking iOS users to download an app that's only available on Android app store is inappropriate. To stay relevant, you will need to understand behavioral and usage patterns of your users. For example, email to your mobile openers can be planned at a different timeslot as compared to your desktop users.

2. Change the Position of your Unsubscribe Link:
If for some reason your user decides to unsubscribe, the best you can do is help him locate the unsubscribe link easily so that he does not block you. Many marketers commit the folly of hiding the unsubscribe link, which creates a bad user experience. It is advisable to have a clear unsubscribe link on the top. While this may increase your unsubscription rates, it will also result in lower spam complaint rates ultimately resulting in better targeted lists with high inbox delivery rates.

3. Analyze why users are unsubscribing:
Having an effective unsubscription management in place is highly recommended and for that it is important that we analyze the data as to why users do not wish to receive emails. This will help improve your approach on how you send mails today. Small measures can go a long way in reducing the unsubscribe rate. One such is to not have a long form on the landing page as otherwise users will end up blocking your emails. Trick is to keep it simple & clever!

Doing the above 3 things should help reduce impact of Gmail's new block button. Overall, it is a positive change by Gmail as this will have lesser impact on marketer's sender score while giving more control to Gmail user. Keeping a close eye on the unsubscribe rate by your Gmail users is important and we expect a decline in this statistic with more people opting for the new block option.

Mayank Tomar

Mayank is Senior Marketing Technologist & CSM at Netcore Solutions Pvt. Ltd. He enjoys solving digital marketing related challenges faced by today's marketer and also has a passion for outdoor & adventure sports.

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