One of the keys to success in e-mail marketing is to reduce the number of spam complaints that you receive. Spam complaints can hurt your sender reputation with your ISP or hosting provider. They can even cause you to be blocklisted and prevent your messages from being delivered to millions of users of popular web e-mail providers such as Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo mail. In spite of these potentially very significant consequences, many businesses that rely on e-mail marketing as a major part of their advertising efforts fail to understand the steps that you can take to prevent spam complaints from being submitted. Consequently, they suffer from low email marketing delivery rates.
The first and most important step you can take is to include an unsubscribe link in every message. Beyond this, the unsubscribe link should be two things: obvious and painless. It may seem counter intuitive to place a large and readily apparent unsubscribe link in your messages, but the fact is that people who enjoy your messages will ignore it anyway, and people who want to unsubscribe will do so quietly without causing you any grief. You also want a completely painless unsubscribe process. Ideally, a single click and it’s all done. The less complicated or frustrating this process is, the fewer spam complaints you are likely to get.
Another thing to keep in mind when you are sending out mailings is that the large mail providers use system-wide filters. This means that if a certain number of Hotmail users flag your messages as spam, it becomes more likely that your messages will be automatically routed to Hotmail users’ spam boxes. Most people never check their spam box for legitimate mail they might have missed, so your mailings will simply never be seen. This is why it’s very important to make your messages appear as legitimate as possible to your recipients.
The simplest way to do this is to optimize your subject headings. Each message’s subject line should make it exactly clear what the message contains, and in a professional manner. For our own newsletter, for example, we start each message’s subject with the text “ActiveCampaign News:” followed by a description of the individual newsletter, such as “Products Updates & New Services.” This makes it clear that you are receiving a newsletter from ActiveCampaign, and makes the recipient aware of the message’s purpose right away. There is much less chance that this will be mistaken for spam than if the message were titled something like “Great New Products!”
You can also help people to recognize your messages by using clear and predictable sender information, such as your company name, e-mail list name, or personal name, depending on what subscribers to your particular list would be likely to expect. Our company newsletter is addressed from “Company Name, Inc.” and is sent from the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org, exactly as one might expect. If you maintain a mailing list called the “Dog Breeding Newsletter,” you would probably be better off using the list name as a From header rather than “XYZ Kennel” or “email@example.com”
Finally, you can avert many problems by simply reading and promptly replying to any complaints are requests that you receive by e-mail. If someone writes to you to ask that they be unsubscribed, it will be much better to simply remove them from the list rather than send them an unsubscribe link. You may also be able to retain a reader who otherwise may have unsubscribed by responding to concerns about mailing frequency, content, or other issues that may arise. By being responsive to your readers, you will build up profitable long-term relationships and benefit from their word of mouth.