Your intentions may be good each time you push the “send” button, but this still doesn’t stop some recipients from thinking you’re just delivering garbage to their inboxes. And when they click “report spam,” you risk getting blocked by major internet service providers (ISPs), encountering lower delivery rates, and even seeing a drop in your ROI.

While you can’t control every recipient’s actions, you can adjust your email marketing practices to help you avoid looking like a spammer and ensure your deliverability rates and reputation stay high.

To that end, check out these five easy-to-implement tips on how to reduce spam mail complaints.

The tips outlined here are only a few of the many ways to combat avoidable spam complaints.

For example, it’s never a 100% guarantee you won’t get spam complaints. As such, it’s important for you to join feedback loop programs offered by email clients and ISPs.

These loops help you process incoming complaints to make sure you don’t send those recipients any more content and risk damaging your reputation further. Inboxroad does this automatically for most ISPs except Yahoo’s feedback loop, which customers need to set up on their own.

Overall, following the steps in this article will help ensure your emails are delivered properly and read by as many recipients as possible, all while building a better reputation with your subscribers.

Send Email Only to Opted-In Subscribers

One of the primary reasons email recipients report spam is because they never asked to receive it in the first place.

As such, a best practice to avoid looking like spam mail is to only send emails to people who opted in to that particular list.

More often than not, recipients’ emails will accidentally — or even purposefully — get added to new lists or campaigns they didn’t give permission to be added to. Some email marketers will even buy mass email lists from a third party and add all contacts to their campaigns without a second thought.

These kinds of mistakes go against local and international spam email laws like CAN-SPAM and GDPR, and can have negative consequences on your company’s email marketing reputation and deliverability.

Instead, follow these steps to ensure you’re sending emails to the right people:

  • Make it obvious what they’re signing up for: Use clear, descriptive language on your site about what someone is signing up for and how many times they can expect to be emailed. Ultimately, It’s better to have fewer opted-in subscribers who want your content than deal with the repercussions of hundreds of spam complaints from your list.
  • Set up a double opt-in system: Make sure subscribers can verify their email via an automated link, which reduces the likelihood you’ll send unsolicited emails. This practice also helps you avoid sending emails to an address that was typed incorrectly, or to an address not actually owned by the person who signed up with it.

Additionally, you might want to consider doing an occasional clean-up of your list or verify the addresses on your list.

Make It Easy to Unsubscribe

Even though they signed up for your list at one point, sometimes subscribers no longer want to receive your emails (usually because the content isn’t relevant to them like it used to be).

In this case, you need to make it as simple as possible for them to unsubscribe, both in your direct emails to them and on your website.

Not letting subscribers opt-out of your email campaigns means they’ll see future communications from you as unsolicited. And they’re more likely to report you for spam mail.

To avoid this, provide a couple options for people to unsubscribe from your list:

  • Include unsubscribe links in your email campaigns: A mandatory requirement in email marketing is to provide an unsubscribe link in each email you send. You can add this link to the bottom, but you should also add one to the top, because there’s a better chance readers will see it instead of heading straight for the spam complaint button. An “unsubscribe” link at the top also sidesteps the potential problem of subscribers accidentally clicking that “report spam” link most email providers automatically add to emails.
  • Allow people to unsubscribe via your site: If you have a website that hosts a membership or account-based system for users, give them the option to unsubscribe via their account settings. In the long run, this practice shows you respect a subscriber’s right to privacy.

 

Use a Recognizable Email Address

Another reason subscribers commonly report spam email is because they don’t recognize the address it’s sent from.

You can avoid this problem by sending all your campaigns via a recognizable, personable email address.

Some subscribers may actually want your information but don’t recognize the source email address it’s coming from. This often happens when you use addresses like “no-reply” and “info,” or when the copy that displays at a glance in readers’ inboxes is generic and flat.

Here are a few easy solutions to this situation:

  • Look like a real human or brand: Send communications from an email address with a human name if you’re able. Otherwise, make sure to adjust the sender name so it reflects your brand, such as “Your Favorite Company” vs. the default “info@yourfavoritecompany.com.”
  • Change default pre-header settings: Another way to help subscribers recognize your emails is to make the default pre-header settings more custom. For example, you can change the “View Message in Browser” message to “Read Your Favorite Company’s Latest Email in Your Browser,” or simply replace it with a line about what’s in the body of the email itself.

 

Time Your Emails Consistently

The timing and frequency of your emails contribute directly to whether or not subscribers end up trusting your brand or viewing you as spam mail.

A key factor for avoiding spam complaints is to choose and consistently follow an email sending schedule.

Subscribers like to see regular communications from you, but if there’s too big of a gap between your emails, they may forget who you are and report you as spam email. Similarly, subscribers are more likely to complain if you send them too many emails in a short time span.

These are some ways you can figure out the best email marketing frequency for your brand:

  • Start with fewer emails: A good rule of thumb is to start by sending 2-4 emails per month, and then upping that frequency to a point where it doesn’t contribute to lower open rates. Track your campaigns closely and see what type of schedule (including days and time of day) your subscribers prefer, and then stick to it.
  • Remember that every industry is different: You may need to send more emails during a certain time of the year, or more emails in general if you’re in a consumer-facing, fast-paced industry. Time of day also matters; for example, if you’re trying to reach consumers, Saturday seems to be one of the best days to email them.

 

Refrain from Contacting Unsubscribes and Inactive Users

Last but not least, all your subscribers have legal rights and personal reasons for opting out of your email lists, and will often do so. Plus, if it’s been at least 12 months and some subscribers haven’t opened your emails, you should consider manually removing these inactive users.

Overall, it’s in your best interest to let these types of users go and avoid contacting them without explicit permission, or risk being reported as spam mail.

You can put your email reputation and deliverability at risk if you ignore subscribers’ requests to not be contacted. In particular, if you risk reaching out to them and asking them to resubscribe, people are more than happy to report you.

Consider these suggestions for dealing with unsubscribes:

  • Wait to see if they contact you: Sometimes people mistakenly unsubscribe from your content, or they come back months or years later wanting your information again. Wait until they reach out to you or resubscribe before sending any new emails.
  • Look at the positive side: Ultimately, you want engaged subscribers who care about your brand. When someone unsubscribes, you aren’t really “losing” anything; instead, you’re gaining a stronger reputation as a trusted, transparent company.

 

Conclusion: Recognize Your Role in Reducing Spam Mail Complaints

The tips outlined here are only a few of the many ways to combat avoidable spam complaints.

For example, it’s never a 100% guarantee you won’t get spam complaints. As such, it’s important for you to join feedback loop programs offered by email clients and ISPs.

These loops help you process incoming complaints to make sure you don’t send those recipients any more content and risk damaging your reputation further. Inboxroad does this automatically for most ISPs except Yahoo’s feedback loop, which customers need to set up on their own.

Overall, following the steps in this article will help ensure your emails are delivered properly and read by as many recipients as possible, all while building a better reputation with your subscribers.