Does Your Subscriber’s SPAM Box Affect You?

Whenever a client sends a bad email campaign, their recipients will click the “Report Spam” button in their email programs. Most people think nothing of it.  They figure it just teaches their Spam filter to throw away the email.  But what really happens behind the scenes is this:

1.     A complaint is sent to their ISP (like AOL, Yahoo, Comcast, Earthlink, etc).  The report has a copy of the email in it.
2.    The ISP scans the emails header, and tracks down the originating server (if you use to send the campaign, the ISP traces it to us).
3.     The ISP sends us a feedback loop (FBL) warning.
4.     If an email campaign causes too many Spam complaints (about one per thousand recipients), the ISP blocks future emails from the sending server.

Feedback Loops (FBL) like the one described above are being used more and more by large ISPs.  The reason is simple.  ISPs are dealing with billions of pieces of Spam daily.  They cannot sort through what is legit and what is not. Technology can only sort through so much.  So they put the ultimate decision in the hands of the recipients. If a recipient says it’s Spam (even if they opted-in for it) then it is spam.  That is the end of the story. Of course people make mistakes, which is why they set thresholds for complaint levels before blocking senders.  But the point – technical and legal definitions of Spam do not matter anymore. All that matters are what recipients think is “unwanted”. So your clients better be sending material people specifically requested.

This is why email marketing services (like are setup to receive FBL alerts from ISPs, and then we automatically clean complainers from your list.  Too many complaints from one campaign, and we can get blocked. And since you are sharing our system with many other users from around the globe, we have to be rigorous about monitoring FBL complaints.

You know how they say “You are more likely to die in a car accident than a plane crash”?  The same concept applies with abuse complaints.  You may think your client is safe and sound as long as they are not sending nasty pharmaceutical or online gambling Spam. But it is far more likely you will get blocked by ISPs because of complaints from your own subscribers about seemingly innocent newsletters. So it is important to know what makes people complain, and how to prevent it.

*Did You Know – a safelist is an email mailing list that people join (of their own free will) which enables them to send email offers to all the other members in exchange for agreeing to receive email from those other members. So you get to mail, but you have to agree to receive mail too. And no one gets spammed.

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