Keep your ear to the ground with e-mail feedback loops

Share this content:

Imagine your subscriber retrieves her snail mail and gabs for a few minutes with her carrier. While they're talking she flips through the mail, sees your item, writes "Return to Sender" and hands it back. Thereafter, whenever the carrier sees mail from you, he shreds it - according to policy.

Sounds ridiculous, right? But it happens, all the time - with e-mail. Internet service providers use feedback from users about senders to determine whether to deliver mail to the inbox, the bulk folder or the spam folder - or not at all.

It's well intentioned, yes - ISPs want to maintain the value of their product and keep their customers happy. And, to be fair, it's a tough job. People want spam out, even as they want guaranteed delivery of the commercial messages they've invited.

ISPs make delivery decisions based in large part on feedback they receive from users - which they measure in the form of complaints logged when someone marks your message as spam, for example.

But the good news is many ISPs will tell you when someone complains about you, using feedback loops. If you use a hosted e-mail service, confirm that the vendor has established feedback loops for all the ISPs that offer them.

If you use installed list management software, make sure your vendor provides tools and services to address feedback loop registration and processing. Register for feedback loops with the individual ISPs then configure your software to automatically and immediately remove or suppress complainers from your lists.

You can use this information to drive improved deliverability. Ask yourself, is there a sudden spike after a campaign? Are complaint percentages at one ISP higher than others? Then determine, if possible, what may have caused the higher complaint rate. Finally, test your campaigns by sending the same message with different subject lines (or other elements), and compare the results.

Every ISP's feedback loop is different, making the aggregate data sometimes challenging to manage. Some use a standardized format - the Abuse Reporting Format û others don't. Some send feedback in real time, others send in batches. Many send the entire offending message, others only provide the e-mail address - and still others send the body of the message but no address. Plan for these discrepancies by configuring your processing scripts accordingly and by including unique recipient identifiers within standard e-mail headers.

By helping you track and remove complaints, feedback loops are one of the most important deliverability tools available today.

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Since 1985, Melissa has helped thousands of companies clean, correct and complete contact data to better target and communicate with their customers. We offer a full spectrum of data quality solutions, including global address, phone, email, and name validation, identify verification - available for batch or real-time processes, in the Cloud or on-premise. Our service bureau provides dedupe, email/phone append and geographic/demographic append services for better targeting and insight. For direct mailers, Melissa offers easy-to-use address management/postal software, list hygiene services and 100s of specialty mailing lists - all with competitive pricing and excellent customer service.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above