How to Avoid Complaints

The majority of delivery related issues are caused by complaints and the top reason people complain is because they don't remember signing up or were not aware they signed up in the first place.

A complaint is registered when someone hits the 'Spam' or 'Junk' button after receiving your email. These complaints are sent back to us automatically through feedback loops and the recipient is unsubscribed from your mailing list. Complaint thresholds vary by ISP, but on average if you are generating a complaint rate over 0.25% (1 in 400) you are going to start to have problems. This should be measured by ISP and not compared to the overall number of emails sent with each mailing. Exceeding this threshold is a sign that people are not happy receiving your emails and/or there is a problem with how you are populating your lists.

The 2nd most common reason people complain is because the email they received was not of interest. The fact of the matter is, if you make an effort to send emails that want to be received and give people a choice when they sign-up, you will eliminate the majority of complaints with these 2 steps alone, and here are some ways to make it happen:

  • Avoid purchasing lists. Generating your own leads and building a relationship with your customers is the best way to avoid generating a lot of complaints.
  • Send email to those who want it. After you receive a subscription request, send a confirmation email to that address which requires some affirmative action before adding that person to your mailing list. Since only the true owner of that email address can respond, you will know that only the true owner is the one doing the subscribing. This will also remove any invalid addresses and help lower your hardbounce rate (another problem that affects your reputation). Without this process, you cannot be sure the address holder was the one who signed up.
  • Don't sign people up automatically and don't hide behind some Privacy Policy nobody reads.
  • Have people sign up voluntarily and keep those check boxes empty so they have to check it themselves. If the box to signup is checked by default, your list is actually 'opt-out' not 'opt-in'.
  • Honor the scope and frequency of your sign up process and don't send them content or bombard them with emails they didn't ask for.
  • Include subscriber text that explains how you got their address and why they are receiving your email (should be in both html/text versions)
  • Clear Unsubscribe link is a must. Make sure it's not too small or hidden from view in a background color. It should be as easy to unsubscribe as it was to sign up. If somebody wants to be removed from your list, they are going to do so anyway so you need to make sure they unsubscribe instead of hitting SPAM.
  • Use a consistent "From" name and email address. Ideally, it should be the same domain they visited to signup and do not use an address at @hotmail @yahoo @aol @gmail, etc.. because there's a good chance it will get rejected for failing the SPF.
  • Make your subject line as clear as possible. People should know who you are, what your email is about and why they are receiving it without even opening it.
  • Keep your emails interesting. If they're not, it's only a matter of time before that person hits unsubscribe or the Spam button.

Remember, generating complaints will affect your reputation and your reputation will affect your deliverability.