Is your spam complaints rate high? Here is how to reduce it

Many senders considered email marketing campaigns as one-way communication without any substantial dialogue back to the sender. But, you should not make this mistake of considering email marketing as one sided-communication. Though your subscribers do not communicate back directly by replying to the emails, they surely have others way to express their responses: open, clicks, deletion, spam marking, complaints and whitelisting

You can categorize these responses into positive engagement and negative engagement. While positive responses: opening emails, forwarding and replying, moving it from spam to inbox, adding you to the address book, improves your email reputation and maximize your inbox delivery rate.

Negative responses: deletion, ignoring and specifically spam marking and complaints prove harmful to your email reputation and deliverability. How your subscribers respond is a critical factor in deciding whether, or not your email campaigns will be delivered to their inboxes. Hence you should strive to maintain a positive engagement with your subscribers and interaction with them do not result in your emails being filtered out as spams/ junk mails.

While it is not practically possible to reduce your complaint rate to zero, you can maintain it at acceptable level to improve your inbox placement. There may be many reasons why users want to leave your list. Every click on unsubscribe button does not mean people are dissatisfied or unhappy with your service. But to somehow assume that those who want to unsubscribe accidentally marked your email as spam is incorrect. Many times, they know the effect of their actions. According to research, 40% unsubscribes come as spam complaints through the feedback loop.

There are many reasons why subscribers report the email as spam such as:

  1. They believe they are not part of your email list.
  2. They don’t recognize you.
  3. You have changed your sending frequency.
  4. Your unsubscribe process is unclear.

While every marketer has different strategies, there are some solutions that you might consider to lower your complaint rate.

Subscribers believe they are not part of your mailing list.

You know complaints can even happen right at the beginning of the new subscriber relationship. Weird isn’t it? The truth is subscribers believe that they are not part of your email program in the first place. It may happen due to many reasons such as:

  1. They didn’t subscribe to your mailing list.
    Well, sometimes that’s true! You might be sending emails to the wrong owner. It may happen because incorrect email addresses (valid but owned by someone) slip into your list due to typing error or wrong domain. You can avoid such situations by using confirmed opt-in process and regularly checking your list for any incorrect email addresses. Obviously, you don’t want to get labeled as a bad sender.
  2. Subscribers are not sure if they have subscribed to your mailing list.
    Such complaints are usually encountered when a passive opt-in process is used. It means subscribers are presented with pre-checked boxes or they need to check an empty box to unsubscribe. So, people get subscribed without actually giving their permission. Hence, it is better not to use a passive opt-in method and let them decide consciously whether they want your subscription or not.
  3. They only created an account with you.
    During the account creation process to test any service or download a trial, people are required to share their email addresses with the registering entity. But that should not be taken as their consent for receiving marketing emails because they might mark you as spam. We advise you not to add any new member on your list until and unless they give you an explicit permission. You can send them an opt-in link in a welcome email and inform them about the benefits of being on your list.

Subscribers don’t recognize your emails and brand.

This part of the complaints is about recognition of your emails and brand. What if subscribers don’t see the connection between the brand they have signed with and the subsequent emails they receive. The Chances are high that your spam complaint will increase. There are two situations where your subscribers might fail to recognize you:

  • They don’t receive emails from the same brand name, they subscribed.
    Let’s get this fact straight that first two things that people notice in emails are subject line and “From” name. So, it is necessary that “From” name match with your subscription page and you use it consistently in each and every email. You may use a pre-header to increase recognition. Also, note that you use style and design that is consistent with your brand. These measures are a great way to reduce your complaints due to poor branding.
  • They don’t recognize you anymore.
    Sometimes, a company can change its name. It may happen due to the merger with other company or when it may move from one email platform to another and forced to register to a new domain name due to non-availability of the old domain. In that case, if it suddenly starts sending emails from a different domain, or change the subject line, or drastically change the writing style or email design, then the subscribers may not recognize it. Eventually, this may lead to a spike in spam complaints. In order to reduce the element of surprise, introduce your subscribers about the upcoming changes in several phases. Also, if you change the domain name ask your subscribers to update their address books accordingly.

Unsubscribe process is unclear.

They can’t find your unsubscribe link.
If you make opt-out link hard to find, subscribers will treat “This is spam” button as a substitute. So, make sure you send unsubscribe link in all the emails. Make unsubscribe link as part of the email pre-header area to make it easier for users to find it. Also, don’t hide or disguise the unsubscribe link by using small font or unclear text or camouflage it with the background.

Unsubscribe process not cleared.
How regularly do you check your unsubscribe process? Is it working properly?
Sign-up for your subscription with another email address, then go through the entire unsubscribe process to check if it is working flawlessly. It is best practice to provide single or fewer click for unsubscribe process.

Remember that anything too complicated will make subscribers frustrated and they are going to click that spam reporting button. Unsubscribe link in every email on Single click to make it easy to unsubscribe rather than to make it part of update preference process. You should not bound your users with restrictions to make unsubscribe process difficult for them.

Complete unsubscribe requests immediately.
Remember that if it takes longer for people to get off from your mailing list than hitting the spam button, they are going to follow the path that takes less time. So, process unsubscribes requests as soon as possible. If people are going to receive emails even after opting out, they are likely to complain and it also a violation of CAN-SPAM law.

Spam complaints are signal that there is something wrong with your email strategy. Check your email campaigns against whom you are sending and what you are sending because it is important that you deliver the right information to the users who really want it. It is also clear that email marketing is a two-way communication process. Paying attention to how your subscribers are responding is a great way to improve inbox placement and overall email marketing program.

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