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Five Ways to Keep Subscribers From Hitting the Spam Button

August 10, 2011  

There's the legal definition of spam—as outlined in CAN-SPAM—and then there's the real-world definition used by many of your subscribers: any piece of email I'd rather not receive. Even recipients who went to your website, signed up for your newsletter and confirmed their subscription might hit the spam button over an irrelevant message.

To help marketers keep that from happening, Marla Chupack offers this advice at the Email Transmit blog:

Manage expectations. Use a confirmation email to tell new subscribers what they can expect, the value your messages offer, and how often they will arrive. Recipients are less likely to think of your email as spam if it's exactly what you said you would send.


Make it easy to unsubscribe. "Always have an unsubscribe link in the footer," Chupack suggests, "and consider adding it to the header or some other more noticeable place." There's no upside to unengaged or hostile subscribers; it's much better to have one less address on your list than one more spam complaint to an ISP.

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  • by Bill Kaplan Wed Aug 10, 2011 via web

    Good advice, particularly considering that the percentage of spam complaints is the number one factor ISPs use to determine whether or not to block your emails from being delivered or reaching the inbox.

    Two more pieces of advice that I would add to this list:
    1) Validate and correct email address registrations at the point of registration - If you can catch and correct inadvertent hygiene errors and block problematic addresses prior to these getting into your marketing database and being messaged, you'll be able to significantly decrease your spam complaints.
    2) Consider blocking role accounts (i.e. info@, sales@, marketing@, etc.) from ever getting into your marketing database. These email addresses typically get delivered to multiple recipients even though only one individual signed up. As a consequence, emails sent to role accounts experience a much higher ratio of spam complaints than typical emails.

    Lastly, if you're experiencing a significant number of spam complaints, you can be sure this is affecting your deliverability and, of course, your email performance. In this case, clean and update your working list as soon as possible and utilize a real-time email address correction service to keep your marketing database fresh going forward.

  • by Jamie Siminoff Wed Aug 10, 2011 via web

    We just launched a new certification product to help on the "making Unsusbcribe Easy" point. You can check out more about it here,http://www.unsubscribe.com/certification.

    Basically we give you certification similar to Truste, Hacker Safe, etc. but for your emails. Let your customers know that you are a good sender and they will unsubscribe less and also subscribe at higher rates. We just launched the product but so far the results on some early customers are encouraging on this.

    If you have any questions on the product feel free to contact me jamie@unsubscribe.com

  • by Don Tepper Thu Aug 11, 2011 via web

    Good basic points, although I'd be careful about "Survey subscribers about content and frequency preferences." If someone is interested in manufacturing widgets and you've promised to send them information on manufacturing widgets, then a survey--versus content on manufacturing widgets--may be considered spammy.

    One of the big problems, though--and I don't know if there's a good way of addressing it--is that some folks just think that the best and easiest way to get off a mailing list is to mark it spam. As a volunteer with a non-profit, I send out periodic e-mail newsletters. We use one of the big providers--fully CAN-SPAM compliant. We send it to only members (who've paid and been informed that the e-mail newsletter is a member benefit) or to people who opt in on our website. We send out maybe 1 e-mail a month--definitely not overloading the folks. And it's all content-based.

    Our service provider requires an "opt-out" link on our e-mails, which is clearly displayed.

    Still, we frequently get spam reports. Why? I'm guessing it's because a lot of the folks are just too lazy to click the opt-out link. Or they think it won't do any good. Or they don't understand the distinction between "spam" and "legitimate e-mail with appropriate content that I asked for but in the intervening months or years have lost interest in."

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