Using Feedback Loops To Manage Spam Complaints

Email you send using our Email Marketing software should be validated with an SPF record (or DKIM – “DomainKeys”) by the email service provider, to ensure it is not automatically treated as spam, thereby skipping your list recipients’ inbox altogether.

In the case that your emails are marked as spam by the email recipient, there is an effective approach to being notified of such occurrences, called Feedback Loops, or FBL for short.

Feedback Loops is a system of notifying the domain owner when a user of certain email clients, such as Yahoo or AOL, marks a message as spam. The intent is to provide domain owners notification of such occurrences so they can better manage their subscriber retention and email marketing techniques.

Using our Email Marketing software, you can manage Feedback Loop occurrences, giving you more control and precision when sending campaigns.

First, you’ll need to set up a feedback loop through the appropriate email provider. Please see our documentation and links for how to do this.

Note: For our software to detect and record spam complaints from feedback loops, it is required that you use the same email address that is used for bounces within the email marketing software.

When a spam complaint occurs for one of the email service providers that you have a feedback loop established, an email will be sent to the same email address used for bounces in the email marketing software, with a unique content type that tells our software to treat it as a feedback loop email.

Once it’s in the email marketing software, it will be treated as abuse, meaning the subscriber is removed from the list, and this occurrence logged in abuse reports.

Note: Make sure you have Abuse Management turned on, under Settings > Mail Sending:

To view abuse reports, click on the “Manage & Take Action” link along the top of the admin section (which will inform you of any groups that are suspended due to abuse complaints). You can then view each individual abuse (email address):

Please note: This interface will show you all abuse occurrences, including those recipients who manually report email abuse by clicking the link within campaigns.

If Abuse Management is not turned on, there is no interface (yet) for viewing feedback loop occurrences, unless you examine the database itself. Feedback loop occurrences are saved in the em_feedbackloop database table with the entire body of the message, and timestamp of the occurrence.

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  • Anton

    Very cool tip!

    Thanks for sharing…


  • Hector Perez-Nieto

    Yahoo sends FBL reports WITHOUT the original information (recipient, msg ID). They attach the original mail, intact and an additional .dat attachment with the recipient email address. I tried processing their reports directly as bounces but went undetected. Is there a way to parse, given the relevant unsubscribe info is attached and not within the email itself?

    • Hector Perez-Nieto

      … OK never mind, I ran it as a regular bounce and it automatically unsubscribed the addresses reported by Yahoo FBL. I checked the MySQL table “em_abuse” and they were all there. WOW the more I use Active Campaign the more I love it!

      I can’t find the Manage & Take Action / Abuse report, though.

  • Hi Hector,

    The “Manage & Take Action” link should appear along the top of the admin section for users that have surpassed the allotted percentage of spam complaints they are allowed.

    Otherwise the only way to view actual FBL occurrences is in the database (there is no admin interface for this yet).

    Hope that helps.

  • panos

    very helpfull!!
    if the recipient doesn’t mark the email as spam but it goes directly to junk.
    can those two be separated?? and understand who marked as spam and which email went to junk folder??

    thanks in advance

  • Hi Panos,

    From what I understand the feedback loop will only work if the message appears in the inbox, and the user physically marks it as spam. If the message goes directly to spam, that will not be recorded within our software. In order to avoid this, it’s best to set up an SPF record or DKIM (sender authentication).

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