4 Solutions to a Growing Number of Spam Complaints

With the sheer amount of email hitting the average consumer’s inbox, it’s no wonder the channel can feel a little exhausted.

It’s also no wonder that consumers have such little tolerance for lousy emails, with many hitting “Report as spam” or “unsubscribe” in increasing numbers. It seems that to users, reporting an email as spam and unsubscribing are the same thing. After all, both actions keep the emails from continuing to hit the inbox.

What are brands to do? They are getting consent to send emails, they are sending out emails that are relevant, only to have someone unsubscribe, or worse, mark an email (or sender) as spam.

Consumers have redefined spam as email matures as a marketing channel. Spam went from malicious messages, sent by unsolicited or unknown sources to emails sent by known and permissioned senders, who may have just made a mistake or two.

Without taking care of your audience, you risk alienating them, and in the world of email, this could cause a consumer to completely drop out of your pipeline. That’s the best-case scenario. The worst is your sender reputation being completely destroyed by too many spam complaints.

These mistakes are easy to make and once you fix them, you may be able to stop the flood of spam reports and unsubscribes from bleeding your list dry

Make Sure Your Emails (And Landing Pages) Are Mobile First

Reading email on a mobile device is increasingly becoming a critical part of the business world. We’ve all received emails that don’t display on mobile and you can guarantee that they are likely not read, simply forgotten.

But 43% of consumers say they’ve marked an email as spam for it. Do you really want to take that risk? Being marked as spam is bad for your brand’s sender reputation. Don’t ruin it on something as simple as a design that completely drops the ball on a mobile device.

Make Sure Your Emails are Well-Spaced and Relevant

This is arguably the reason for the blurring line between an unsubscribe and a spam complaint. If a brand is sending out content that is irrelevant, they send it out too often, or both, then chances are some consumers will get frustrated. In fact, 67% of consumers cited those as a reason for unsubscribing and 57% reported marking an email as spam for that reason.

Do some A/B testing, figure out what your list likes and doesn’t. Personalize and segment your content. Send fewer mass broadcasts.  Instead, send emails that are triggered by a user action.

To put it simply, collect data on your subscribers, then tailor your frequency and content to match, thus averting spam and unsubscribe issues.

Check and Double Check Your Consent

It is critical to have permission to send emails to a consumer. It’s no wonder that Litmus found that 51% of consumers said they’ve reported an email as spam because they didn’t willingly subscribe to the emails.

If you don’t get proper consent to send an email, you are practically begging to be marked as spam. That means that the consumer must know that they signed up for your email list. If that isn’t clear to them when they sign up, they have not opted in.

Make sure your language is straightforward for opt-in forms and the like. People need to know what they are signing up for. To hopefully preventing a spam complaint or unsubscribe, make sure you let them know on sign-ups and welcome emails how many emails they should expect to receive you. This sets expectations for them for later emails.

Don’t Hide the Unsubscribe Button

Not only are you begging for a spam complaint with overly-subtle unsubscribe buttons, if they aren’t there, you could be doing something illegal under the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States, CCPA in California, and these laws for other parts of the world.

Make the unsubscribe button easy to find in all formats. Without it, your user, desperate to stop receiving your emails, might mark you as spam.

People change and so do their jobs. Over time, they may lose interest in even the best content. A certain number of spam complaints and unsubscribes are unavoidable. They are a natural part of a changing subscriber base. Others simply lose interest because you aren’t catering to their needs well enough.

Litmus reports that 65% of consumers have unsubscribed because of lack of interest and 53% have marked an email as spam for this reason. By making sure that you have all your ducks in a row and you follow the above tips, you can avoid the part of these statistics that did not naturally grow out of your pipeline.


Let us know what you think:

  • Have you noticed that you receive more spam complaints than you used to?
  • Has your sender reputation been hurt by it?
  • What have you done to prevent spam complaints?


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