What You Should Know About Email Spam Complaints


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how to reduce email spam complaints

No email sender is immune to spam complaints and their consequences on deliverability. However, there are simple things you can do today to protect your email list and get better results from your email marketing.

You want to give your customers email newsletters they value. What you don’t want is subscribers to start thinking of your emails as spam – and labeling them accordingly.

There are real consequences to that, which we’ll explore below, along with a few other things you should know about spam complaints and how to avoid them.

What happens when you get email spam complaints?

Spam complaints are one of the worst things that can happen against your email list. If enough people mark you as spam, Internet service providers (ISPs) will believe that is precisely what you are.

Now, what does “enough people” mean?

The accepted industry benchmark for spam complaints is one for every 1,000 emails. When this metric is higher than that, you should try to get to the root of the problem.

When you keep best practices in mind, less people will hit that “Mark as spam” button, and your emails will find their way to the inbox.

Let’s get into some of the most important things to know about email spam complaints.

Spam complaints are serious

It only takes a moment, just one keystroke for someone to notify ISPs that they believe you’re a spammer. You’d think a few complaints on your campaign or newsletter must be no big deal, right? In fact, getting spam complaints is a serious threat to your email deliverability.

The next email you send out could be blocked by ISPs. That means it could be blocked for anyone, including the people who do want to receive your emails.

From the ISPs standpoint, people marking you as spam means that your emails are irrelevant and annoying. In the interest of serving the people who use their service, it’s good for ISPs to keep spam out of the inbox. If an email user gets a lot of junk in their inbox, they may switch services. Remember, ISPs first serve their customers and not you.

Getting spam complaints – whether deserved or not – is one of the most common reasons why email marketers face deliverability issues. Every email sender has a reputation score. It’s how ISPs make the call as to whether your email should go to the inbox, spam folder, or if it’s delivered anywhere at all.

Spam complaints aren’t a coincidence

Is getting a lot of spam complaints a matter of bad luck? In almost every case, the reason you’ll get a lot of spam complaints comes from a specific problem.

You don’t have an easy way to unsubscribe

I recall signing up for an email list that wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I decided that I no longer wanted to continue getting their promotions, but could not find that handy “unsubscribe” button. So, I deleted the email and hoped that the next email they sent would have a way to get off the list. There wasn’t any! Imagine my frustration. Finally, I went to the website and didn’t find any link to be removed from the list.

Guess what I did? Marked the next email they sent as spam. I felt like I didn’t have a choice!

You have habitual complainers on your list

Even when people request an email subscription, they may still make a spam complaint against you. It may seem odd, but there are known complainers (sometimes referred to as abuse addresses) who hit the spam button indiscriminately and frequently.

Whether they make spam complaints out of maliciousness or carelessness, you don’t want complainers on your email list. A few of those will ruin your email deliverability by tarnishing your sender reputation.

You’re not using double opt-in

Getting permission to send emails to your subscribers is of primary importance. It may seem counterintuitive to require an extra step for people to sign up. However, you want your subscribers to demonstrate a certain intention. By taking this extra step, they show that they want to be there. This not only lowers your spam complaints, but also increases your engagement.

Double opt-in works very simply. When someone signs up, a unique link is emailed to them. In order to get added to the list, they must confirm by clicking the link. This additional layer of care makes all the difference.

How to reduce email spam complaints

If you don’t show a little care, your list is in jeopardy from spam complaints, but you’re not helpless. There are preventative measures that can help you greatly reduce – and even eliminate – email spam complaints.

Here are a few essential steps to follow.

Make the unsubscribe link functional and prominent. It’s frustrating for your subscribers when you make them hunt for it. Getting off of your list should be easy.

Use double opt-in. This ensures a strong interest from subscribers. Also, it prevents fake signups from people who could add emails to your list without consent.

Get rid of known complainers. Furthermore, take the extra step of keeping them off of your list in the first place. Email validation services perform the crucial job of identifying abuse addresses and other invalid or fake addresses. Choose an email verifier that offers an API, then connect it to your sign-up forms. Thus, only real (and quality) email addresses can subscribe.

Periodically, you should also bulk verify your list. Upload your list to the email validation’s platform. It will check each address and allow you to identify any problematic or fake emails. You should remove any inferior email addresses without regret.

Avoid spam complaints by being careful and maintaining standards

When standards drop, spam complaints come rolling in. Visible unsubscribe buttons, getting permission to send emails, using email verification – these are the exact opposite of the approach spam senders take. You can drastically reduce spam complaints by not behaving like spammers do.

Spammers send things that are annoying and are more predatory than customer-oriented. So, aim to create email newsletters with undeniable quality. Try to be of service to your readers, and listen to their needs. The higher standards you set for your emails, the better your results will be.


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