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Be in the Know.

What to Know About Gmail’s Unsubscribe Feature

unsubscribeGmail users will now be able to unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters and promotional messages more easily. Google recently announced the addition of a new unsubscribe feature that will make it simple and quick for Gmail users to remove themselves from mailing lists.

The unsubscribe link will appear in a very visible spot at the top of the message, right next to the sender’s name.

Marketers need to be aware of this change, and what they need to do as a result. In his Marketing Land blog post, “Everything You Need To Know About Gmail’s Auto-Unsubscribe,” Tom Sather shares some tips for how you can handle the unsubscribe option.

First, though, he points out that marketers should resist the automatic negative reaction they likely have to this news. He points out that it is in a business’ best interests to make it as easy as possible for email recipients to unsubscribe from unwanted mailings. This decreases the odds that you’ll be marked as spam, and also improves both your deliverability and reputation.

Now, to activate this feature, your must focus on your email header. “Gmail’s unsubscribe feature is based on the list-unsubscribe header,” Sather explains. “The list-unsubscribe header is an x-header, which means it appears in the email header, but isn’t visible within email clients. As a result, email providers like Gmail can use this as a way to create an action. The list-unsubscribe header can appear as an email address, a website, or both.”

You have the option of using either a MAILTO or URL function in directing the unsubscribe command. “If only the MAILTO version is listed, or if it appears last, an email message would be sent seamlessly behind the scenes to the address given,” Sather says. “Gmail has stated that they prefer the MAILTO version and have suggested they may move away from the URL altogether in the future.”

Of course, after you implement this feature, you must then follow through and ensure that you are in fact removing people from your list once they click on the unsubscribe link. Otherwise, your deliverability may be negatively affected (not to mention, you will annoy people).

Sather points out that the unsubscribe option will only be available to senders with positive, established reputations. If you are starting a new campaign using a new IP address, you likely won’t see it. If you aren’t using a new address but still don’t see this option, that may be a red flag alerting you to a possible issue with your reputation.

We can help manage your email campaigns and protect both your deliverability rates and reputation.


With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.