First there was Gmail’s *tabbed inbox layout that marketers had to contend with and now, Gmail has introduced its new ‘Block’ functionality.

By using the new blocking functionality, it makes it easier for users to keep unwanted email messages away from their inboxes by sending messages from specified email addresses straight to the spam folder.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. Blocking mail from a sender isn’t the same as reporting the email as spam. While both prevent messages from that sender from reaching the end user, one is a personal filter and the other affects global filters.

Through blocking, all future mails from a specific address will be labeled as spam, and will not have an adverse effect on the sender’s reputation as it is seen as a personal preference by the user. On the flip side, when a user reports a mail as spam it does affect reputation, especially if a sender receives multiple spam complaints.

While the obvious response to this is “why not just unsubscribe?”, the reality of it is a bit more complex. In Demystifying the Inbox 2015, a study conducted by Everlytic, in conjunction with Effective Measure, it showed that some South Africans opt not to unsubscribe as a result of apathy and fear for phishing scams or viruses. The statistics show that 44% of South Africa’s online population deletes unwanted email, 24% unsubscribe, 14% mark these messages as junk mail, 9% ignore these mails and the remaining 9% report it as spam.

What should email marketers focus on to keep their messages and newsletters out of the digital trash?

Stick to the basics by following these hints and tips:

Make the unsubscribe option easy to find. Most people won’t spend time searching for the unsubscribe link. If it’s not easy to find, then the likelihood of being blocked or reported as spam increases.
Make it easy to unsubscribe. Do you offer a simple unsubscribe process, like a one click unsubscribe or a reply-to for removal? Or does the user have to input information and go to a preference centre to confirm they want out?
Use double-opt in. Use confirmation links to confirm subscriptions and promotional participation as a way for subscribers to show they’re engaged and want to receive emails.
Allow preferences. Let users choose how much email they want to receive and how often they’d like to receive it. The more you know about readers, the better you’re able to target by email.
Be relevant. Let reader preference lead the right content to the right people and only to those who want to receive your emails. Find ways for content to be relevant, engaging and use filters to segment and target readers.
Encourage interaction. Boost engagement ratings by getting recipients to respond to emails by confirmation links or with an actual reply.
Re-engage subscribers. Segment recipients that haven’t read or clicked on a link in your emails in over six months, so that you can offer them exclusive content which will prompt them to engage with your brand moving forward.
Track results. Measure subscriber engagement, open and click rates to spot peaks and lows in results. Ideally, click rates shouldn’t lag too far behind opens.
Test continuously. Do A/B split tests to small sample groups and send the best performing version of the email to subscribers.