All About Abuse and SPAM Complaints

Updated on: May 24, 2017 Category: Email Marketing Basics, SPAM & Abuse

There are several different reasons you can get SPAM or abuse complaints for your campaign. This article will go over some of those reasons as well as offer tips on things that you can do to avoid them in the future. It’s not unlikely that even the most legitimate email marketers will receive SPAM/abuse complaints at some point!

How do Abuse Reports Work?

Any time an email is marked as SPAM, a report is sent to the recipient’s Internet Service Provider and the sender’s Email Service Provider (in this instance, us).

What We Do About Abuse Reports

To protect deliverability for everyone using Robly, we monitor abuse reports closely. If we contact you about any abuse reports or complaints, you will have to prove that your list is legitimate (see here and here for more info) and that any complaints were made erroneously. If these can’t be provided, we may have to shut down your account until you’re able to take steps to improve your list.

Reasons You Get Abuse and Spam Complaints

Sometimes your emails may get marked as SPAM accidentally – either someone hits the button by mistake or simply thinks it’s the same thing as the Delete button. They may have forgotten that they signed up for a list, or if you haven’t mailed to them recently, they completely forgot they ever signed up to receive email from you. The following are a few reasons that both legitimate and illegitimate senders might get SPAM complaints:

  • Old Lists. If people have opted-in to your list but you haven’t emailed them in the last 6 to 12 months, or have purchased something from you more than a year ago, these recipients have likely forgotten they ever opted in to receive email marketing, or purchased anything, from you.
  • Customers Who Have Purchased. Legally you cannot send to anyone who hasn’t purchased anything from you in the last 12 months. Additionally, many people simply add these email addresses to their email marketing list, without ever clearly communicating to the customer that by making a purchase, they will begin to receive email marketing from you.
  • Trade show and/or Third Party Lists. Oftentimes trade show organizers or other organizations share a list of email addresses of attendees or legitimate email addresses. Even if these email recipients clicked some box or there was some fine print about getting email marketing from you, they won’t know who you are and will probably mark you as SPAM. Rather than get their permission directly, permission is assumed.
  • Business Cards and Fishbowls. Collecting email addresses in exchange for a raffle or prize is common practice, but unfortunately does not equal permission to send email marketing.
  • Purchased or Rented Lists. The list was bought from another company or organization and sent to, without getting express permission from anyone on that list first.
  • Sending Too Often. You risk getting a higher rate of spam complaints if you send to your list too often. Generally speaking you don’t want to send to your list more than once a day unless you are in a niche industry where this kind of sending is acceptable.

How Can I Prevent Abuse and Spam Complaints?

There are a few things you can do:

  • Double Opt In. Always use the double-opt in method for adding people to your list. At Robly it’s a requirement, and it provides proof that someone gave you permission to send them email marketing.
  • Always Get Permission. Even if you’re sending to customers, you must get permission to send them email marketing first. Create a separate list for promotions and ask your customers to sign up for it, either during the checkout process or in a transactional email. Make the fact that they’re opting in for email marketing very transparent and clear.
  • Don’t Buy or Rent Lists. Just don’t. They violate our Terms of Service.
  • Make Your Opt-Out Link Obvious. We add an Unsubscribe link to the footer of every email, but you can always add it to the top or anywhere else in your email by using our Merge Tag for Unsubscribe.
  • Use Good Design and Content. We’ve all received email from spammers before. Make sure your emails do not resemble those. This post has more details on ways to avoid getting stuck in SPAM filters, while our Email Marketing 101 post contains tips for design, wording, and more.
  • Be Transparent. If you tell people you’ll email them once a month, make sure you do. Don’t then email them once a week. Be honest and straightforward with your marketing and communcations – people appreciate it!
  • Don’t Send Too Often. If you are sending to your list more than once a day, this could become problematic.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are getting SPAM complaints:

  • SURPRISE! Are people getting your emails surprised for some reason? Has it been a while since you contacted them? Did you get permission first?
  • Branding. Is it consistent throughout your emails? Will people know exactly who you are and how they signed up when they get your newsletter? If the answer to any of these is no, you need to figure out how to make the answer an unequivocal Yes!
  • Permission. Did you get it for 100% of your list? Did you merge lists at some point with a lead or prospects list that perhaps is not a permission-based list?
  • Irregularity. Are you sending inconsistently or very rarely – enough so that people have forgotten who you are? Did you change your company name or contact info?
  • SPAM check. Is your From Name something people will recognize? Is your subject line spammy in any way?
  • Content. Let’s be honest…is it any good? Is it useful and/or easy to read? Is it text-heavy or just plain long? Are people clicking on your links? Do you even have any links?
  • Buying Lists. Did you do this? If so, remove the list immediately.
  • Oopsy. Sometimes people will mark you as SPAM on accident. This definitely isn’t the majority reason for SPAM complaints, but it does happen.

 

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