Spam complaints are reports made by email recipients against emails that they consider to be unsolicited. Through a direct feedback loop with major ISPs like AOL, and email providers like Hotmail, the system can automatically detect if a significant number of your recipients flag your campaign as spam.
How does an email campaign get marked as spam?
Most ISPs offer reporting facilities that allow their customers to mark emails they don't remember opting in for (or didn't opt in for) as spam. For example, pictured below is AOL's "SPAM" button to report anything considered junk mail.
When an email recipient clicks this button, AOL lets us know that one of our customers is potentially sending spam.
What happens if my campaign gets reported as SPAM?
When a recipient of your campaign reports the email as spam, two things happen:
- The recipient who made the spam complaint is immediately unsubscribed, meaning you will no longer be able to send campaigns to that individual.
- The complaint is recorded in your reports for that campaign (as shown below).
What is an acceptable spam report number?
Your goal should be zero. However, if your spam report number is less than 1 per 5,000 emails sent, then you are within today's industry norms. Industry norms will change over time and we will continue to keep you up-to-date.
How does this affect my account?
While discretion is used, ISPs still consider every spam complaint as an official complaint from their customers. This means that if enough recipients mark your campaign as spam, the ISP will punish the offending sender by adding them to their blacklist or negatively adjusting their sender reputation score (determined by a number of different factors, including volume of emails sent, spam trap hits, percentage of bounces, etc.)
Also, if enough of our customers are reported as spammers we risk harming our sender reputation and good relationships with ISPs. So if your campaign gets more than a typical number of complaints, which is calculated as a percentage of your sending size, you will receive an email warning explaining what has happened and providing some ideas on how to prevent further problems.
Important: If a very large number of complaints (above 1%) are received your account will be locked automatically. You will not be able to send further campaigns until the problem is resolved.
How do I avoid spam complaints?
You can minimize the chances of your campaigns being reported as SPAM by following best practice email marketing guidelines, including:
- Use our confirmed opt-in subscribe process to ensure a high quality subscriber list. This also provides proof that those making spam complaints are unwarranted.
- Add a clear explanation at the top of every email you send that explains how you got that subscribers permission and give them the opportunity to unsubscribe immediately if they no longer wish to hear from you.
- Don't wait for too long after people subscribe to send your first email (because recipients may forget opting in by the time they hear from you and report the email as spam).
- Set clear expectations when someone joins your list. Tell them what you'll be sending them and how often.