Be honest. Whenever you get email marketing that you weren't expecting, or that you never even requested, what do you do (after cursing the name of the person who sent it)? You click that "this is spam" button in your email program. Heck, according to some studies, 30% of recipients click "this is spam" for email marketing campaigns, even if they specifically requested it from the sender!
So what's the big deal? Some really scary stuff happens behind the scenes whenever someone clicks that spam button. First, a message is sent to their ISP (like AOL, MSN, Hotmail, Earthlink, Yahoo, Juno, NetZero, etc.). That message says "I think these guys are spamming me." Then their ISP starts watching you, because you've aroused their suspicions. If enough people on their network report your email as spam to them, they'll block all future emails from you. How many abuse reports are enough to get you "blacklisted"? ISPs all have different thresholds, but 0.01% is the number that's most often discussed by people in the email deliverability business.
It's even worse than you think. Some ISPs don't even require a human to report your email to them. Some of them will block your emails if automatic spam filters think your messages are "spammy" for whatever reason (like using red fonts, or the phrase, "click here!"). Some ISPs use firewalls that can read reported spam, and blacklist URLs that are in the content (so not only will your company's email server get blocked, but so could ALL emails that have ANY links related to your company). And ISPs and anti-spam services often share their records with each other. Finally, once you get blacklisted, it almost takes a miracle to get de-listed. That's because most blacklists are run in secrecy. If you want to contact the owners, you usually have to post messages on public anti-spam forums, and hope they're lurking. Then, pray they take you off the list (after a thorough verbal-flogging by the other members of the forum, of course). Send one bad campaign, and your email marketing efforts could be compromised for a very, very long time. Yikes.
So what can you do?
If even a handful of spam complaints can cause serious deliverability issues for your company, what can you do to avoid them? Here's a list:
Before you click that "Send" button, you should ask yourself, "Did every recipient on this list give me permission to send them email marketing?" If your answer is anything less than a confident "YES!" you shouldn't send that campaign.
Got a list of Customer Emails? That Doesn't Necessarily Mean They Want to Hear from You
For many consumers, there is little distinction between unwanted email and spam email. If you stretch the line in sending too many emails or to folks who don't recognize your email, the complaints roll in. This guide takes you through the issues and how to avoid generating spam complaints.
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