As marketers, we all use some sort of marketing list for our email campaigns. These are typically opt-in prospects or existing customers. Sometimes we acquire lists from 3rd parties or put a case study or some other thought leadership behind a registration wall to obtain new marketing contacts. Regardless of where we acquire the email address, it has a certain value to us. But does the correspondence have value to the recipient? If not, it can affect your long-term sending reputation.
Before the CAN SPAM Act, end-users were inundated with junk email. This forced Inbox Providers like Google, Yahoo!, Hotmail and others to implement Junk and Spam filters to keep email at least somewhat relevant for their users. With the Act, marketers were now made responsible for policing their lists and removing anyone who opted out or unsubscribed. It’s an imperfect solution for several reasons:
- Bad actors can completely ignore CAN SPAM.
- Legitimate marketers can get email addresses from many sources, including the user, so the Inbox Provider cannot block unsolicited email.
- Legitimate emailers can still “spam” a user with large amounts of irrelevant email unless that email user unsubscribes.
- Unsubscribe methods may be complicated enough that users find it difficult and give up.
For these and many other reasons Inbox Providers have developed their own mechanisms to fight irrelevant email, spam and junk. These analyses can derail even well configured emailing domains.
Proprietary Junk and Spam Algorithms
Google, Yahoo!, Outlook.com/Office365.com, McAfee, Symantec and many other providers of inboxes or email gateway filtering software have come up with many ways to separate the valuable correspondence from the junk, spam and dangerous:
- Blacklists – If the sending IP is on a blacklist, it’s probably spam. There are dozens of reasons for blacklisting, which includes being flagged as spam somewhere.
- SPF Authentication – If the sender’s servers aren’t listed in the SPF record for the sending domain, it might be spam.
- DMARC – If the sending domain fails, SPF checks or DKIM checks, then it might be spam. Our Delivery Center product started out as a DMARC compliance tool.
- Attachments – Most inbox providers scan attachments for known malware and discard infected messages.
- Subject Lines – There are certain subject lines typically used in spam and junk. These are easily filtered out.
- Content – Content quality is an emerging issue for inbox providers. For example, dollar signs “$” or frequent use of FUD phrases might indicate spam. You can find more information about Content with our Inbox Placement tool.
- User Feedback – Users provider direct and indirect feedback on relevance of a sender.
User Complaint Metrics Affect Email Delivery
Aggregating User Complaints is a great method for Inbox Providers to understand sending domain relevance across all their inboxes and discover emerging threats to their users. For example, your domain sends a legitimate marketing campaign and the Inbox Provider see the following:
- ~20% of recipients open the email (based on global average open rates, yours may differ)
- Some open the email and delete it without really reading it, indicating low engagement.
- Some delete the email without opening, indicating apathy or disinterest.
- Some mark it as spam or junk and even why they think it’s junk or spam.
- Some click on your unsubscribe link, which can be tracked.
- Some unsubscribe through the provider UI.
- Some go to disused or invalid email addresses.
Do you know what these numbers are for your domain? Inbox providers are rating the deliverability of emails from your domain taking these new factors into account.
What can Marketing Do?
The good news is that Inbox Providers are willing to share your deliverability information with you! Called Complaints or Feedback Loops, Inbox Providers enable legitimate domains to subscribe to the complaints they receive from their users. Complaint detail can be:
- The number of complaints received.
- Email subjects that resulted in Unsubscribes, Spam Complaints or were marked as Junk.
- Email addresses that bounce or were invalid.
- Email addresses that unsubscribed at the Inbox Provider level.
- Email addresses that marked emails as Junk or Spam.
Marketing can then:
- Review campaigns that have a high complaint volume to improve them and make subsequent campaigns better.
- Remove bounced and invalid email addresses from email lists. They’re wasting money and hurting your sender reputation.
- Unsubscribe customers from marketing lists if they complained or unsubscribed. These complaints hurt your domain’s sending reputation and impact how your customers view your brand.
MxToolbox Can Help!
Our Delivery Center suite of email delivery tools now includes Recipient Complaints: aggregation, analysis and actionable insight that integrates with the top Inbox Providers’ feedback and complaint loops. Getting each Complaint/Feedback Loop integration setup can complicated, so MxToolbox Experts have created a simple, step-by-step guide for each integration: Yahoo!, Google, Validity, Mailgun, Microsoft and others. Get Started with Delivery Center and start improving your email reputation!