Spam complaints have a huge impact on your sender reputation, so wouldn’t it be helpful to know who’s reporting your email as spam? You can with feedback loops. Feedback loops were once a tool for ISPs to monitor abuse from their networks, but now, they are also available to senders who would like to use the information to perform list hygiene and to gain insights into what may be negatively affecting their email program.

Here’s how feedback loops work:

MAAWG: Complaint Feedback Loop Best Current Practices (April 2010)

 How to use complaint data

  • Track complaint rates to measure email effectiveness. If your email program yields a high complaint rate, complaint data can offer important clues as to how your messages are being received by your users. So be sure to review your messaging for inconsistencies. Are you delivering on your promise? Are you sending too much email? Listen to these recipients and make adjustments.
  • Use this data to clean you list. You don’t want to send messages to people who reported you to the ISPs. Therefore, remove them immediately. If you are a SendGrid customer, use our APIs to set up a rule to do this automatically. This will help you maintain a good reputation and higher email delivery rates.
  • Check your unsubscribe feature. Oftentimes, people report your email as spam because they can’t easily unsubscribe from your list. Is your unsubscribe working? Is it too hard to find or does it require more than one click to unsubscribe? It may be counterintuitive, but make sure your unsubscribe feature is highly visible and super easy to use. Also, implement a preference center to provide alternatives to a complete opt-out. In the end, it’s much better for your reputation if people remove themselves from your list instead of reporting you as a spammer.
  • Review your opt-in process. If you have a high complaint rate, check the source. Are you purchasing lists or using co-registration to acquire new subscribers? It could be that new subscribers are not being permissioned properly. Also check your privacy policy and disclosures. You want to be sure you are meeting subscriber expectations.

How to access complaint data

Each ISP has their own feedback loop, but not all of them provide this convenience. Below is a list of the feedback loops that should be on your radar. Simply complete the Complaint Feedback Loop application at each of the following ISPs and wait for approval. Once approved, you will receive complaint data in the form of Feedback Messages.

In order to receive and process these complaint reports, set up a dedicated email address and once you receive this information, ISPs expect you to act on it so be sure to quickly remove the complainers and fix patterns that are resulting in these complaints. Unsubscribing complainers becomes a bit tricky when dealing with transactional email since these streams are triggered by an action. In this case, you’ll have to use your best judgment to decide whether or not to suppress that email from your list.

Ready to get started? Here’s a list of some feedback loops that you should be aware of:

MailTrust (Rackspace)
Open SRS
TWC/Road Runner

Does SendGrid use feedback loops?

SendGrid automatically registers all users for any major ISPs that offer feedback loops. SendGrid then consumes any information returned by these ISPs and they are added to a suppression list. Our Forward SPAM App allows all SPAM complaints to be forwarded to a specified email address.

To learn more about following email best practices, download our free guide: SendGrid’s Ultimate Email Deliverability Guide.

With more than 15 years of experience, Carly Brantz is an email deliverability and inbound marketing veteran. As the VP of Revenue Marketing at SendGrid, Carly empowers her team to transform marketing from a cost center to a revenue generator. With a key focus on funnel optimization, Carly leads the team responsible for content creation, lead nurturing, SEO/SEM, and website optimization. An accomplished speaker, Carly shares her email delivery and revenue marketing tactics as a headline speaker on SendGrid’s international roadshow as well as other Marketing conferences.