Spam Buttons and Complaints

Ever gotten a spam complaint?

At AWeber, email deliverability is serious business. We and our customers take great care to manage their lists well so they can enjoy the best possible deliverability.

Even so, occasionally subscribers lodge spam complaints.

When your subscriber does this, you feel indicted. After all, you’re not spamming. Your subscribers come to you and sign up. Nameless, faceless guys hawking drugs and penny stocks are sending spam. You’ve gotten enough of it in your life to know the difference between it and what you send.

So why did your subscriber cry “SPAM?”

“Spam” Buttons from the Subscriber’s Point of View

Whenever someone gets an email in their inbox, several buttons can be used to take action with the message, such as:

  • Reply
  • Forward
  • Print
  • Delete

In most, if not all, email programs, there’s also a button labeled “Spam” (or “Junk”). If the subscriber clicks on it, the message is deleted. The subscriber is also telling the ISP that he/she doesn’t want to get email from this sender. Whatever else happens behind-the-scenes doesn’t concern Susie Subscriber, at least not in her mind.

This is the button that generates a spam complaint against the sender. It’s located high on the screen in front of the user, and it’s easy to click (prominent as it is, for some people it’s hard not to click it). For example, here’s where it is in…

AOL Webmail Hotmail Yahoo

AOL Spam Button

Hotmail Spam Button

Current Yahoo Spam Button

Yahoo’s New Mail Beta GMail
New Yahoo Spam Button Gmail Spam Button

Even zooming out as we do here, it’s easy to see that in each email program it appears at the top of the page, near the center and is easy to find and click on.

So I DIDN’T Spam…but am I still in trouble?

One spam complaint won’t ruin your day. Getting a lot of them can cause problems for you. One possible effect of a high complaint rate may be an ISP content filtering your messages (not delivering messages with your website URL in them, for example).

What do I do?

ISPs know that their customers use the “Spam” button to unsubscribe.

Since your subscribers are coming to you and asking for your information, you shouldn’t be getting many complaints. If you are getting more than you’d like, however, there are steps you can take to minimize your complaint rate.

Confirm Your Subscribers. Prompt your subscribers to confirm their subscribe request (via a link in a confirmation email) prior to making them active on your list. This helps to qualify your subscribers, which helps to minimize your complaint rate.

Include Subscription Details in Your Messages. Place a section at the beginning of your messages that details why the subscriber is receiving them, along with instructions for unsubscribing. This can reduce your complaint rate and possibly your unsubscribe rate, by jogging your subscribers’ memory of why they’re getting email from you.

Stay On-Topic. Your subscribers are signing up to get a specific set of information from you. If you send something that’s not consistent or relevant to what they signed up to receive, it’s likely that you’ll get more complaints.

Following these guidelines will help you to keep your complaints to a minimum and free your time and mind up to focus on other areas of your mailings and business.