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The new to way to unsubscribe

Recipients of unwanted email messages have found a new way to unsubscribe from lists: Hit the “Spam” button. Major ISPs are now using Feedback Loops.
Views: 756 Created 06/09/2008

Here is a simplified explanation of how Feedback Loops work:

Email Marketing Services (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 setup filters that stopped unwanted messages. However, these filters were blocking wanted messages as well, because a complaint rate of as low as 1 in 1000 can trigger a block. By way of example, say you send to 1,200 AOL addresses and 5 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.

Before feedback loops, only the ISP knew who was hitting the “Spam” button, so senders kept sending to complainers, complainers kept complaining, and complaint rates kept growing until a permanent block was placed on the IP address.

This was stopping a lot of legitimate mail from getting to recipients who wanted it, and fortunately, after enough people complained that they were not receiving requested email messages, the ISPs created Feedback Loops.

So what is the best way to keep a recipient from hitting the Spam button before they open your message?

1.    Make sure the ‘From Address’ is easily recognizable by containing your company or organization’s name.

2.    Make sure the ‘Subject Line’ is relevant and truly matches your content.

3.    Send your messages in regular intervals, so the recipient comes to expect them.

4.    Do not over send! If you send monthly do not start sending weekly.

5.    And most importantly, only send to those who have requested to receive YOUR message. Do not send to addresses that come from a third party, and do not add members who have previously unsubscribed. Remember it only takes 1 complaint in a 1000 to get ALL your messages blocked.

How to keep recipients from hitting the Spam button after opening your message:


1.    Consider adding a sentence to the top of mailing such as: “You are receiving this message because you have subscribed to list XYZ”.

2.    Make sure the content matches the subject line, and is relevant to the recipient.

3.    Make sure the Unsubscribe link is easy to find.

Let’s focus on that last line: “Make sure the Unsubscribe link is easy to find.”

If I want to leave a list and I am faced with scrolling down to the bottom of a 12 paragraph message with 32 pictures of camping equipment to have to try and find a light green “click here to unsubscribe” link on a dark green background, and the alternative is a huge “Spam” button fixed at the very top of my email browser, I might just start using that handy button.

So what do you do?

If you are looking at your Blast Sending Reports and do not have any complaints and your delivery rates are good, then you do not need to do anything.

If on the other hand, you are starting to get complaints, and your successful delivery rate is dropping:

You need to first, as mentioned above, reevaluate how members are being added to your list.

Make sure your unsubscribe link is identifiable and easy to find. This may include shortening your message.

And, if you are sending to a new list, or complaints are really starting to rise, you may consider moving your unsubscribe link to the top of your message. If the recipient is looking at the Spam button, but also sees “Please click here to safely remove yourself from all of our mailings” at the very top of your message, they might just use your unsubscribe link.

Complaint averted!

About the Author

Louis Chatoff is the Deliverability Manager for the StreamSend Email Marketing service.

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