You Can’t Ignore the Haters (and Complainers)


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Man Ignoring MegaphoneYou know the old saying, “The customer is always right.”  Agree or disagree but in the world of email deliverability this is the reality.  Here’s how it works.  People sign up for your emails and then for various reasons end up reporting your email as spam by clicking the junk mail button on their email reader. The top priority for ISPs is keeping spam and other malicious email from reaching their customers’ inboxes.  Regardless of the reason, from the perspective of the ISP, the complainer (AKA their customer) is always right.   And these complaint reports can have a devastating affect on your email reputation and result in deliverability failures.

Your email reputation is based on several factors including the state of your sending infrastructure, email volumes, bounce rates and appearances on blacklists.  However, ISPs give far more weight to complaints that other factors.  Why?  Because their customer is always right.  If the customer says your email is spam then your email is spam.   You can rage about subscriptions, preferences, easy unsubscribe and all the reasons why your email was permission-based. It won’t matter because the customer is always right.  The customer owns the inbox and they get to decide what’s spam and what’s not.

So, what can you do to minimize complaints?

Keeping complaints to a minimum is mostly about sending good email and following best practices like those described in our recent post about open rates.

Still there are few things you can do right away:

  1. Sign-up for ISP Feedback Loops so you’ll know when a customer complains and can immediately suppress that email address.   Learn more about Feedback Loops in our Ultimate Guide to Infrastructure.
  2. Send a welcome or confirmation message immediately upon sign-up.  People sign-up for email all the time and then forget about it – make sure your email stays top of mind.
  3. Make it easy to unsubscribe.  Trying to keep people on your list by making it difficult to unsubscribe almost guarantees that you’ll get complaints.  Why would you want someone on your list who isn’t interested in your company or products?  It won’t improve your results and could create reputation problems.

Learn more about SendGrid’s hosted SMTP solutions here – and how we can help you to prevent complaints and manage your email reputation.


As SendGrid's Senior Marketing Analyst, Danny is responsible for keeping the marketing team focused on making data-driven decisions to help make sure we are providing value for our customers and prospects. While he may spend his days knee deep in spreadsheets now, Danny spent most of the last 10 years managing email campaigns, website optimization, and PPC campaigns for B2B companies.

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