I don’t know about you but I’m sure parents can relate when I say that once you have kids, nothing around the house is really yours. 

Don’t get me wrong, kids are great—but when it comes to personal belongings, nothing is off-limit.

It’s only recently that I realised that my kid has laid claim to my phone too.

A friend of mine wanted me to forward a few emails I had received from a home design company that I had subscribed to a few months back via my personal Gmail account. I grabbed my phone to start looking for the emails when I realised something. 

While I had quite a few emails from the company, I had stopped receiving messages from them last month. In fact, the last email I received said they were “sad to see me go.” 

I didn’t find the answer immediately. A few days later when I asked my daughter if she had played around with my email app, she mentioned having signed up on some virtual pet platform. I’m guessing in the confusion of looking for the right email, she probably accepted the Gmail automatic unsubscribe notification for these home design newsletters I hadn’t bothered to open.

Despite this little hiccough, this nifty, user-friendly feature is actually quite useful (this is the marketer in me speaking :P). It looks at your interaction or engagement with certain subscriptions and if there’s nothing happening on your end, it will check in with you whether you’d like to unsubscribe from certain senders. 

A quick dive into the history of the Gmail automatic unsubscribe option

Gmail introduced this feature back in 2009, but it was only offered when someone clicked the ‘Report Spam’ button.

Then, in 2014, Google rolled out an update that placed the unsubscribe button in the header of the email. With this, the unsubscribe button came with a link that would allow the recipient to unsubscribe simply by clicking this link. 

Again, 2 years ago, Google launched several new features for its email service. Among these was the Gmail automatic unsubscribe we’ve come to appreciate, which, as I’ve mentioned, automatically suggests unsubscribing from email senders you don’t engage with. 

This suggestion is based on certain metrics; Gmail, for instance, compares the number of emails you’ve received with those you’ve opened. Inactivity for over a month will prompt Gmail to make its suggestion.

Here’s something to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. 

Gmail opens a window of opportunity for marketers

In my (humble) opinion, the Gmail automatic unsubscribe feature is a major opportunity for marketers. 

Why? Because this helps us improve the deliverability of our email marketing campaigns. 

There are already tools that allow users to unsubscribe from email lists. It’s now much easier to unsubscribe from multiple newsletters in a single click. The fact that Gmail has this option too is just going one step further.

This is why I say this Gmail automatic unsubscribe feature is a window of opportunities. While you may lose out on some of your leads or audience with this feature, you know that those who remain are people actively interested in what you have to say and offer. 

Down the line or even immediately, this allows you to deliver more targeted messaging and nurture leads and ensure former clients keep engaging with you for additional products or services. To borrow the phrase, it really is a blessing in disguise.

If you want to work around the Gmail automatic unsubscribe feature, here are two simple things you can do. 

1. Go beyond email personalisation 

In an age all about the self, email personalisation is a given. 

What I’m referring to; here, is segmentation where you tailor the content based on certain aspects of your recipient like location, age, gender, and their previous interaction with your content. This will not only make your emails more relevant to the sender but will also increase engagement down the line.

2. Interact with inactive contacts

Nowadays, it’s quite easy to identify subscribers who haven’t interacted with your emails. 

Once you do, create a campaign to find out why they’re not interested in hearing from you. You might not hear back from every one of them, but you never know—maybe one of them will take the time to tell you what they would have liked to see and this can definitely help you improve your messaging in the future. 

This is the ‘new normal’

My advice—don’t be disheartened by this feature. Use the Gmail automatic unsubscribe feature to your advantage and improve your email campaigns

Welcome to the “new normal” of email marketing.