What is a spam complaint?

Spam complaints are reports made by email recipients against emails they consider to be unsolicited.

We record all spam complaints received. If there are any made against an email you have sent, we include this information in your campaign report, as shown here: 

Important: If a very large number of complaints, above 0.5%, are received your account will be locked automatically. You will not be able to send further campaigns until the problem is resolved.

How emails get marked as spam

Most ISPs offer reporting facilities that allow their customers to mark emails they do not remember opting in for, or did not opt in for, as spam.

For example, here is AOL's spam button:

When an email recipient clicks this button, AOL lets us know that one of our customers is potentially sending spam.

This kind of tool enables email recipients to report anything they consider to be unsolicited "junk mail".

Through a direct feedback loop with major ISPs, like AOL, as well as email providers like Hotmail or Yahoo Mail, our system can automatically detect if a significant number of your recipients flag your email campaign as spam.

If enough of our customers are reported as spammers, we risk harming our sender reputation and good relationships with ISPs which makes deliverability harder for everyone.

How spam complaints are handled

We do understand that some spam complaints may be false. Perhaps the recipient was lazy or just forgot about giving you their permission in the first place.

However, if one of your email campaigns gets more than a typical number of complaints, which is calculated as a percentage of your sending size, you will receive a warning email. It explains what has happened and provides advice on preventing further complaints, which could result in your account being suspended.

Note: Recipients who report your email as spam are immediately unsubscribed from your list, meaning you will no longer be able to send campaigns to that individual.

How to prevent 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.

FAQs

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.

Why am I seeing mostly Outlook/Hotmail and Yahoo! complaints?

It is normal to see most of the spam complaints in your reports coming from Yahoo! and Hotmail (or Outlook.com) because they are both the world's biggest email providers, and also the main providers using feedback loops.

If an email service or ISP does not have a feedback loop set up, then any complaints by your subscribers are not passed back to us.

How will my account be affected by spam complaints?

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.)