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Recipients of unwanted email messages have found a new way to unsubscribe from lists: Hit the Spam button. Major Internet service providers (ISPs) are now (or in Yahoo's case will soon be) using feedback loops to communicate complaints back to the message sender.

What does this mean to email marketers? It means they need to rethink the way they display their unsubscribe link, especially if they are sending to a questionable list or are starting to receive complaints.

Here is a simplified explanation of how Feedback Loops work:

Email services providers (ESPs) let the various ISPs know that any complaints registered against our users should be sent back to us, so we can communicate this information back to those users.

The benefit to our users is two-fold: The complainer is automatically unsubscribed from your list, so they cannot register another complaint; and you can analyze this data to improve your delivery.

Why Feedback Loops?

ISPs found that complaint rates allowed them to set up filters that stopped unwanted messages. However, these filters were blocking wanted messages as well, because a complaint rate of as low as 1 in 1,000 can trigger a block.

For example, you send to 1,200 AOL addresses, and five recipients click on the Spam button: You could find yourself with a 24-48-hour block of your IP address, even if 200 recipients opened your message because they found the content relevant.

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Louis Chatoff is the deliverability manager for StreamSend Email Marketing Service (www.streamsend.com).