Email Newsletter Complaints: Why Do I Get Them and What Can I Do About Them?

Written on
Mar 2, 2012 
Wikus Engelbrecht  |

GRAPHICMAIL – It doesn’t matter what business you are in, there will always be a few customer complaints coming your way at some point or another. The same is true in email marketing, but while it may be baffling how someone who signed up to your communications could suddenly start complaining about it, it’s also a good opportunity to learn from subscribers, figure out what went wrong and come up with ideas about how to take action and resolve the issue.

Why people complain

1. Permission: Spam email is any email the recipient never asked for. However, even where people have signed up for an email, they may still use the “report spam” button if:

The emails they get are not what they expected. For example, if you send your newsletter subscribers another newsletter from a sister organization.

They forgot about the original opt-in.

There are a few steps you can take to avoid permission problems, such as:

Only send email marketing messages to people who explicitly requested it.

Don’t buy email addresses, as these people are not expecting email from you.

Ensure your sign-up forms and pages let subscribers make an informed and a clear choice to join a list and explain what kind of emails they can expect.

Did you send to a new group of recipients or a group that hasn’t been mailed to in a long time – and were they surprised to be hearing from you?

Don’t leave too big a gap between signup and sending out the first email (no more than two weeks) and make sure new subscribers always get an immediate welcome message.

Don’t leave more than a few weeks between any sends thereafter.

2. Value and Annoyance: People may also mark messages as spam simply because they are no longer interested or because the emails come too frequently.

Have you started sending more or fewer emails recently?

Monitor spam complaints and response rates if you increase your frequency significantly.

Did you begin sending a new type of content?

Identify what your subscribers want to read about and work to increase the relevancy of your emails.

Look at which subscribers who no longer respond to your bulk emails and consider a special campaign to win back their interest.

3) Lazy Unsubscribes: Some people use the spam report button, instead of going through the proper unsubscribe process, since they both ensure that no more emails from that sender appear in their inbox. But this damages your sender reputation and endangers your deliverability, so it’s much better to make sure it’s as easy as possible for people to opt out of your campaigns.

Make the unsubscribe link in your footer obvious, and ensure the unsubscribe process is clear and efficient. Also, monitor email replies to your messages, in case these include unsubscribe requests.

If you are concerned about spam complaints, consider placing the unsubscribe link in a more prominent position… such as at the very top of your email newsletter.

Try opting out of your own emails first-hand and make sure your email address is removed from the list within a few days.

Anything that makes the unsubscribe process difficult or seem untrustworthy could be another reason for subscriber complaints.

Wikus Engelbrecht is a writer, journalist and digital poet at GraphicMail, an international email and mobile marketing service provider. His professional career in language and media has traveled the film, print advertising, magazine publishing, food theatre and online content industries since 2003.

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