Gmail’s New Feedback Loop and Unsubscribe Button

Two big Gmail changes were announced at this week’s M3AAWG meeting in San Francisco, both of which could reduce the volume of mail that sparks complaints. Google unveiled a Gmail Feedback Loop (FBL) for email service providers (ESPs) and made it easier for users to unsubscribe from marketing email.

Getting subscriber feedback from Google has always been a challenge, but select ESPs can now get a better look at how Gmail users react to messages thanks to the new FBL. For now the Gmail FBL will report only aggregated daily complaint rates – not message-level data – and only to ESPs that are M3AAWG members and recognized by Google for maintaining good sending practices. So it may reduce complaints overall, but it won’t help marketers find and remove individual complainers from their lists.

A Google spokesperson explained that spammers take advantage of ESP sending infrastructure and the Gmail FBL is intended to help ESPs identify those spammers more quickly. At this time the FBL is not available to individual senders.

Google’s second announcement may have a more direct effect on marketers: Gmail’s own unsubscribe link will now appear prominently at the top of commercial messages to make opting out simpler. This saves users from having to scroll into messages to find senders’ unsubscribe links. It’s not a new feature, but Gmail’s UI change will make it easier to find. The result could increase the number of overall unsubscribes, but marketers may also see fewer complaints lodged by users that find it easier to report a message as spam than to opt out of lists.

For technical details on how both of these Gmail initiatives work and how they may affect individual senders and the email ecosystem, the Return Path’s Email Intelligence Group can provide more background and specific information.