How marketers can prevent spam complaints

Share this article:
Ben Chestnut
Ben Chestnut

You don't have to be a spammer to get reported for spamming. Even totally clean, double opt-in lists will get one or two abuse reports per 50,000 recipients. Sometimes it's just a simple mistake, but getting reported for abuse is pretty serious. If a major ISP receives even a small handful of complaints about your e-mails, it will start blocking all e-mail from your server.

So it's worth looking at how legitimate e-mail marketers get falsely accused of sending spam.

Sometimes, it's a simple mistake. But more often than not, it's the marketers' own fault, caused by one or more of these actions:

  • The marketer collected e-mails legitimately, but took too long to make contact. People receive full-blown e-mail newsletters and they don't remember opting in two years ago.
  • The marketer runs an online store that yields thousands of e-mail addresses of customers who have purchased products in the past. Instead of asking people to join the e-mail marketing list, the marketer just start blasting offers out.
  • The marketer is exhibiting at a trade show that has provided a list of attendee e-mail addresses. Instead of e-mailing those people an invitation to join its list, the marketer just assumes it has permission and starts e-mailing newsletters and promos.
  • Fish bowls and business cards. To marketers, it's common sense that this is a list-collection technique. To prospects, it's just a free lunch.
  • Purchasing or renting members' e-mail addresses from an organization, then just adding them to the list without getting permission.

Ways to Prevent Abuse Reports

  • Use the double opt-in method. This way you have proof that each and every recipient gave permission to send them e-mails.
  • Even if they're your customers, don't send promotions without permission. Set up a separate “marketing list” for customers to join. Give them reasons (or free prizes) for signing up.
  • Don't hide your opt-out link. Make it very prominent. Some marketers are placing the “Unsubscribe” link at the top of their e-mails, so they're easy to find. We think this is a best practice.
  • Make sure your e-mail looks reputable and professional so that people will trust your unsubscribe link.

(This article first appeared in the 2007 edition of the Essential Guide to E-Mail Marketing.)

Ben Chestnut is the co-founder and managing partner of MailChimp.com. He can be reached at ben@mailchimp.com.

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of Direct Marketing News to post a comment.

Sign up to our newsletters

Follow us on Twitter @dmnews

Latest Jobs:

More in Email Marketing

Engagement: The Secret Ingredient to a Tasty Marketing Campaign

Engagement: The Secret Ingredient to a Tasty Marketing ...

Organic yogurt company Stonyfield says it's discovered the right recipe for an enthralling digital campaign.

8 Email Marketing Myths Debunked

8 Email Marketing Myths Debunked

Our experts set the record straight.

How to Craft Engaging Emails

How to Craft Engaging Emails

Pushing past the inbox clutter and noise may not be as tough as some marketers may think.