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Why and How Email Feedback Loops Increase Customer Satisfaction and Reduce Complaints

by Tom Sather  |  
December 2, 2011
  |  6,518 views

In this article, you'll learn...

  • How feedback loops can help decrease email subscriber complaints
  • Six actionable steps to boost your sender reputation

If you are a large-volume sender of email, you should be signed up for all the feedback loops that are available. Why? Because feedback loops are a great way to report spam, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce sender questions and end-user complaints.

Feedback loops enable your subscribers, who are the customers of Internet service providers (ISPs) or mailbox providers, to report spam via their Web-based mail service (e.g., Gmail) or custom email client (e.g., Outlook)—and funnel those spam complaints back to the email sender.

Originally conceived as a tool for ISPs to use to identify abuse coming from their servers and networks, feedback loops are now available (via ISPs) for email marketers, publishers, and other senders to enroll in. In fact, traditional bulk senders have even made it standard practice to do so.

You're not a spammer, so why are your subscribers marking your mail as spam?

Subscribers may report mail they signed up for as spam because they feel the messages aren't relevant to them anymore, they find it too difficult to unsubscribe, or they receive too many messages. Subscribers also complain if they didn't give explicit permission for you to email them, or if your messages turn out to be different from what they thought they were signing up for.


In addition to helping the global anti-spam fight, feedback loops will help reduce your complaint rate per IP address and improve your reputation as a marketer, helping to ensure that your emails reach your customer's inbox.

By removing subscribers who don't want to receive your emails, you'll reduce your complaint rate because chances are they won't complain again. And if you have low complaint rates, ISPs are much more inclined to allow your messages to reach the inboxes of those subscribers who really do want to receive them.

A 2009 study by Return Path found that 20% of legitimate email never makes it to the inbox. Why? Because of email delivery problems based on sender reputation. Your sender reputation is critical to inbox deliverability, and subscriber complaint rates could be keeping you out.


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Tom Sather is an email deliverability consultant for Return Path, where he works with clients such as eBay, MySpace, IBM, and Twitter. Tom's previous experience includes stints with email service provider Experian and work on the abuse desks for AOL, Bellsouth, AT&T, and GTE.

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Comments

  • by Kyle Hawke Fri Dec 2, 2011 via web

    Don't the major email marketing platforms like MailChimp do all this tracking and reporting for you? This article makes it sound like monitoring spam complaints is more complex than it really is.

  • by Tom Sather Tue Dec 6, 2011 via web

    Yes, ESPs like MailChimp do handle this for senders, but not all senders use an ESP. A lot of emarketers still manage their mail in-house. Plus, more knowledge is power. If you understand how the process works, you’re better able to communicate to your ESP if something in the process isn’t working. Additionally, it’s not up to your ESP to analyze your complaints to glean insights into why your subscribers are complaining. Only you the marketer are responsible for your own sending reputation.

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