September 26, 2016
Earlier this month Apple released the latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 10. In this release, among other things, they have added a simple way to unsubscribe from emails in the native Mail app. This is big news for email as according to the Litmus email client report, 33% of people open emails on an iPhone.
If the email header contains a List-Unsubscribe then an unsubscribe link is displayed at the top of the email. If you click on the link then it asks you to confirm that you wish to send a message to unsubscribe from the list. The List-Unsubscribe header will be added to the message by your ESP and more details can be found here and here. There are two types of unsubscribe method that can be included in the List-Unsubscribe header. Unsubscribe via a link to a landing page or unsubscribe by email. The reason the prompt says "send a message" is because it only works with a list-unsubscribe header in the email format and you will see an email in your Sent folder that was sent to the List-Unsubscribe email address.
There appears to be some caching since if you dismiss the unsubscribe box for a particular sender then it won't display again for the same sender which is nice.
Although this is new for Mail users on the iPhone, Gmail and Outlook.com have been using the list-unsubscribe header to create a easy way to unsubscribe since 2014. This change made no significant increase in the number of users unsubscribing. The reason they implemented the unsubscribe link was to make a distinction between asking to be removed from a list you subscribed to and reporting an email as spam.
So does this spell disaster for all opt in email lists ? No. I always tell people that an unsubscribe in many ways is a good thing and I like to see clear unsubscribes at the top of emails. The recipient is telling you that they aren't interested in receiving your emails anymore. So don't waste your time and effort sending to them and concentrate on the people that want to receive your emails. The alternative is that they mark your email as spam which can affect the future deliverability of your emails to the people that want to receive them.
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