For years, email inbox providers have given their users a single way to respond to unwanted messages—the unsubscribe button. While this approach is simple for the user, it obscures the critical information about whether a user is simply no longer interested in a mailing or whether it's an unwanted spam. The current approach means that any unwanted email, whether spam or opt-in, is marked as bad and counts against the marketer. Over the years, I've advocated to every ISP that would listen how badly they need to add another button next to the "this is spam" button—they need an "unsubscribe" button as well.
Well, it looks like Google's Gmail is doing just that. From its help files, you can see a description of the service. The Lifehacker blog also shows a nice screen shot.
My hat’s off to Google for being the first to take this step. If the other inbox providers follow suit, it will dramatically improve the ability of spam filters while simultaneously improving the quality of targeting for email marketers.
Note: thanks to my colleague Eugene for finding this and passing it along.