I just read a great article by Rebecca Lieb for ClickZ about the new email "unsubscribe" button being tested by Microsoft. (See my previous blog entry.) In her article, Rebecca explores why email marketers, including myself, seem so happy about the proposed new feature.
What's so great about inviting recipients to bail from your list?
A lot of things, she finds out. By offering an "unsubscribe" button in place of a "report spam" button:
- Permission marketers no longer face being “guilty until proven innocent.” There's a big difference between unsubscribing from a list you’re no longer interested in being on and calling a sender a spammer. Unfortunately, current systems only allow for the latter. Even if a recipient loses interest in a newsletter, the marketer ends up getting labeled as a spammer.
- Email recipients drive a clear action that is all-but-guaranteed to work, rather than a vague complaint that forces them to "wait and see."
- ISPs get far, far better data with which to tune their spam filters.
As part of the Windows Live beta service, users have begun seeing the "unsubscribe" button in place of the "report spam" button on messages that contain valid unsubscribe information in the message header and come from senders that have been previously added to a recipient's email address book.
Microsoft's "unsubscribe" button is still in the early stages, and the concept no doubt will undergo refinement by Microsoft and other ISPs in order to address issues that arise. For instance, I believe ISPs need to offer both an unsubscribe button (when the sender is legitimate) and a “report spam” button. Apparently, ISPs think two buttons will be confusing, but I think it’s inevitable that two buttons will be required. Giving recipients the choice will result in extremely accurate information for their spam filters and thus the most balanced solution for both recipients and marketers
In any event, the "unsubscribe" button is finally becoming a reality. It's an exciting development, and one that will benefit everyone.