If you do any email marketing, you likely pay close attention to your mail subjects and content, trying to avoid spammy words that could get your messages blocked. But there's one aspect you probably haven't been considering...your complaint rates. Here's some things you can do to improve your email complaint rates.

improve email complaint rates

Feedback Loops

I'm mentioning this first because it's pretty darn important. This is how a feedback loop works:

  1. You send a newsletter to your list
  2. One of your subscribers doesn't like it, and clicks the "Spam" button in their Yahoo email client
  3. You get a notification from Yahoo
  4. You unsubscribe this person from your list, so they never receive another email and never have the opportunity to click "Spam" again

Every time someone clicks the "Spam" button on one of your emails, your sender score (reputation) can be damaged. So it's crucial to reduce the complaint rates as much as possible, and feedback loops are one very effective way to do this.

Lucky for you, Winning Email offers a service that will setup feedback loops for you at 10+ of the popular email providers:

Feedback Loops Service

Require Double Opt-In

When someone signs up to your mailing list, it's important (and becoming the law) to make sure they own the email account they've signed up with, and they're not just pranking a friend or accidentally mistyped the address.

A simple way to do this is to require double opt-in. That means your system sends them a verification email, and they must click a link inside it before they're truly subscribed to your list. This way you know that the person subscribing truly wants to be on your list. And the likelihood of them hitting the "Spam" button on ya, is minimized.

Send a Welcome Email

There's a few benefits to sending your new subscribers a welcome email:

  • Start building a rapport with them
  • Remind them why they subscribed; what value your list/company/service will provide
  • Suggest that they add you to their address book

All of these reasons will help reduce the chance of them complaining about your future emails via the "Spam" button.

Inspect Your Reports

Hopefully whatever system you send emails from has decent reporting. You want to look at all outgoing messages, whether they be broadcast (ie. one-time blast messages), transactional (ie. password reset notice), or autoresponder (ie "Here's why you should upgrade").

Pay close attention to:

  • Spam complaint rates
  • Unsubscribes
  • Bounces (both hard or soft)

If you notice a trend with your email subject lines or body content that causes these metrics to be high, keep this in mind and update your autoresponder and transactional email templates, and stop sending out broadcast emails with this "hazardous" content.

Clean Your List

This is painful for a lot of email marketers to do. To some people it feels like throwing potential sales down the drain. But if you do it correctly, the benefits will outweigh the drawbacks.

Also, some people take it as a point of pride the # of subscribers they have. I've heard an numerous networking events comments like

"I just passed 10,000 subscribers, how's your list doing?"

Of course they'd never want to lose 30% of their bragging power ;)

Some list-cleaning methods to consider:

  • Remove any subscribers who have been inactive for > 6 months. "Inactive" meaning haven't performed any action on your emails: open, click, whatever.
  • Remove any non-personal emails (admin@, support@, info@, etc.). This one I've never actually done myself because I love using those email accounts for my own businesses. So I know there's gotta be other people out there like me. But some email marketing services won't even let you subscribe those generic addresses.
  • Use a professional list cleaning service, like BriteVerify, DataValidation, or QuickEmailVerification.

Hope that helps you improve your email complaint rates!


Kane Miller from Winning.Email

Kane has a background in computer engineering, but now focuses on creating new and interesting web services. His passion for improving his own email deliverability rates was the driving force behind the creation of Winning.Email.