|V. E-Mail Marketing – Whitelist, Blacklist, Spam Complaints, Oh My! (Part One)
July 14th, 2009 by Missi
Whitelists, blacklists and Spam complaints are major methods of controlling unwanted e-mail. There are different levels of control – at the ISP, the ESP (or you!) and user-level. Understanding these elements of e-mail marketing
is not only essential, but especially in the case of spam complaints, required under law.
Nothing is more frustrating after you launch a thoroughly planned e-mail campaign, than when you get complaints that you have sent unsolicited e-mail. Even folks who employ double opt-in will get this from time to time. Count your blessings that someone has reached out to you to complain. This allows you to see the holes in your subscription process or perhaps that your content needs to be tweaked.
There may be an issue with your disclosure of what kinds of e-mails your list will receive. Smart marketers will be very upfront – sometimes even including a sample e-mail creative beforehand – with the content and frequency of their e-mail. This is often times an effort to curb these complaints.
No one likes being called a spammer but if it’s absolutely false, don’t worry yourself too much. With the intense overcrowding in the inbox these days, sometimes mail is incorrectly flagged. When you see a trend and an increasing portion of your list reaching for the “Report as Spam” button – it’s time to worry.
First things first, make sure that the complainant has thoroughly removed themselves from your lists. It may be surprising, but some people simply complain about the e-mail and do not take the steps necessary to remove themselves from your list. If they haven’t, do it for them. A personalized follow-up email may be a nice touch to let them know they have been removed from your lists (and even a short part of the message indicating how they joined your list in the first place is nice). Make sure ALL opt-outs are processed within 7 days, if not immediately. This means that the postal address or PO Box on your opt-out has to be checked at least this often.
Depending on where the complaint came from, you may have to provide the source of opt-in, the IP address, name and any other information you have proving the opt-in to the list to an ESP or ISP. This is especially true with SaaS ESP’s, as you are generally sharing an IP with many other users. Your complaints affect everyone on that IP. On a server-based ESP, assuming it’s your server, you may need to rotate or purchase additional IPs if one is marred by spam complaints.
Always make sure that you are keeping a suppression list, especially if you are working with affiliates who e-mail. When someone opts-out from your list, they are likely also opting out of your offer. They should be opt-ed out from everyone who mails the offer. They don’t necessarily opt-out from the list, but your partners must not mail that particular promotion to that user any longer. The average consumer is not aware that the same advertisement could be sent by affiliates. After an opt-out, receiving the same advertisement from an affiliate could lead that consumer to click that “Report as Spam” button because in their perspective, you didn’t hold up your end of the deal. Talk with your partners and affiliates about it. It’s the only way to protect both of you and builds trust with your list and potential customers.
Next up in our series: Part 5: E-mail Marketing – Whitelist, Blacklist, Spam Complaints, Oh My! (Part Two)