What are Spam Reports and How to Reduce the Spam Report Rate


IMPORTANT: The points contained in this article are general advice only, and the exact reasons for why your Encharge email messages may be treated as spam is unique to each customer.

What are Spam Reports?

Spam Reports are the number of people who marked your emails as spam out of the total number of messages you have sent. For example, if you send 10,000 messages and 10 people mark it as spam, your spam rate is 0.1% (10/10,000*100). 

The industry acceptable standard spam report rate is anything less than 0.1%, or 1 complaint for every 1,000 sent messages. Anything above this level is considered high. This is the industry standard set by major inbox providers like Gmail.

How do contacts report an email as spam?

The two most common ways contacts can report email as spam are:

  1. They click the “this is spam” or “report spam” link or button in their inbox.As soon as this button is clicked, it’s reported directly to us via feedback loops that we have established with all major inbox providers. In general, contacts that report spam this way will be unsubscribed from your list. It is not possible to see which contacts used this method.
  2. They click the native unsubscribe link and then mark the reason for unsubscribing as “Spam.”You can view your unsubscribe report on a per campaign/automation email basis to see which contacts reported your email as spam using this method.

For instance, this is how you report an email as spam in Gmail:

Note that, not every Mailbox Provider shares this type of information with the sender, meaning that your actual spam complaint rate might be higher than you think.

How can spam reports affect your account?

A high spam complaint rate results in long-term deliverability issues that can take months to correct. Email providers like Gmail will pay close attention to your spam complaint rate over the past 30-60 days. Once you have a high complaint rate, it can take at least 30-60 days to repair it.

If your account has a high spam complaint rate, Encharge Deliverability and Compliance teams will place your account under review and will send you a notification via email. In the notification, there will be a series of questions for you to answer that will help us understand why the spam complaint rate is high. In addition, we'll provide actions for you to take to correct the issue. During the pause, your sending is disabled, but all other interactions with the platform will continue to work (logging in, API requests, accessing your data, etc.). Once we receive your response and see that you have taken the actions requested of you, you will be able to use your account to send emails again.

By having a high spam complaint rate, you risk having your account suspended, as per our Terms of Service

What are some of the reasons for high spam report rates?

1. Unsolicited Email

This is the #1 reason why people complain and report email as spam. If subscribers get information they didn't request, they're much more likely to report your email as spam. For example if someone signs up to your site to get computer tips/tricks, then sending special offers for phones probably isn't a good idea.

More importantly – sending to contacts that didn't opt-in at all is a major issue. If you send to purchased, augmented or traded / borrowed lists – you're guaranteed to see a major increase in spam complaints.

Solution: Only send to confirmed subscribers, and send what they asked to receive.

2. Unmaintained List

Sending emails to subscribers who have been inactive on the list for a long time is risky and not cost effective. If the subscriber hasn’t opened an email in months, they’re probably not interested anymore and more likely to complain.

Solution: There are a couple solutions for this. Subscribers that haven’t opened in a couple months can be archived from your list. If you don’t want to delete any subscribers right off the bat, try sending a reengagement series to get their attention, but don't wait too long. If you wait too long people will forget they subscribed and chances of spam reports will substantially increase.

3. Bots

There are many bad actors on the internet that often try to infiltrate your subscription lists and cause havoc. Unprotected websites and forms often fall victim to spam bot attacks that end up destroying the reputation of the business.

Solution: Make sure all your subscription and registration forms are protected with anti-bot software such as reCAPTCHA or Honeypot.

4. Hiding the Unsubscribe Links

Recipients hate it when they can't find your unsubscribe link!  If your unsubscribe link is hidden or if it's in a tiny font, people will simply hit the 'Report SPAM' button because it’s harder to unsubscribe. Hiding the unsubscribe button also reduces trust.

Solution: Make your unsubscribe link plain and visible and for even better results – include an extra unsubscribe link at the top of your email.   We have some customers that make their unsubscribe link bold and bright red so there's no way a user can miss it. The result: SPAM complaints were cut in half.

5. Not Sending Confirmation Email on Sign-up

It's always best to use double opt-in by sending a confirmation message when recipients sign up.  

Solution: Enable double opt-in for your Encharge or third-party forms and a customisable email will be sent with a confirmation link that the recipient clicks to confirm receipt. This also eliminates the risk of someone signing up for content using an invalid or bogus email address. Don’t forget to customize the confirmation message so it sets expectations for your email campaign.

6. Misleading Email Campaign Subject Lines

It’s good to have a catchy email subject line, but don't be misleading. This means don’t put “Re:” in front of the subject to trick subscribers, don’t reference anything irrelevant and don’t talk about enclosed account information if there’s really no account involved.

Solution: There are plenty of ways to present the topic of an email in an interesting way:

  • Offer to teach something
  • Ask a question
  • Announce something new
  • Offer a solution to a problem

7. Sending Too Much / Too Frequently

Even if the emails are what subscribers requested, sending too many emails will result in spam complaints. On the flip side, sending too infrequently may cause your subscribers to forget why they’re getting your emails.

Solution: This goes back to setting expectations. Somewhere in the expectations, mention how often they should expect to get emails. Stay consistent with send times. 

8. Using an Unknown / Unrecognized Send-from Email Address.

Do you have multiple websites where your fans and subscribers can sign up for your product / content?  If so – make sure that the send-form email and domain you use are recognizable.  If they can’t recognize it, they may think it’s spam.

Solution: Stay consistent with your branding. Make sure the name on your website matches the name in the from line, include the same logo in all of your messages and use the same signature.  Make sure the send-from is someone your recipients will recognize.

What are some of the best practices for avoiding high spam report rates?

If you follow the best email sending practices shared below you should achieve 0% spam report rate.

1. Email only solicited contacts

Importing or emailing unsolicited contacts in Encharge is prohibited and your account could get permanently suspended if you fail to adhere to this rule.

2. Ensure that you are not emailing unsubscribed people

When importing your contacts in Encharge, ensure that you are not importing any unsubscribed people. If you're importing unsubscribed contacts it's critical that they are correctly mapped as unsubscribers in Encharge — i.e., they must have the Unsubscribed field value of "true".

3. Avoid doing old list warm-ups

Warm-ups or re-engagement campaigns for dormant contact lists are prohibited in Encharge. You can learn more in this article.

4. Auto opt-out people that have not engaged with you in the last 3 to 6 months

Create a new segment of people and use the Field condition "Last activity" is more than 90 to 180 days. Avoid emailing people from that segment. You can even unarchive them to free some space on your account limit.

Alternatively, you can sunset people that have not opened any of your emails in the last 90 days using the Email Activity condition as demonstrated below:

5. Make it easy to unsubscribe

Show an additional unsubscribe link somewhere close to the top of the email. This helps push your contacts toward unsubscribing from your list instead of marking your email as spam. However, note that warm-up/re-engagement campaigns are not allowed (as explained in point 3).

6. Make it easy for them to remember who you are

Your subscribers receive a ton of emails on a daily basis, so it's to forget why they subscribed for your emails. To help them remember why they are receiving emails from you add a note at the top of your message indicating how they were added to your audience.

7. Welcome new subscribers

Send a welcome email or a sequence of onboarding messages after people sign up. This is a great opportunity to introduce yourself, and your brand, and set the right tone and expectations when it comes to your email communication.

8. Add your domain

Add your email domain to Encharge and ensure that the emails are coming from the same domain as the one that your subscribers signed up on.

9. Send personalized emails

Avoid mass email blasts. Send personalized emails with relevant information to small targeted segments of people.

10. Send regularly and on schedule

You don't want people to forget about you. Send at least one relevant email every month. 

11. Don't send too many emails

Sending too many emails, however, can have the opposite effect. Emailing your audience every day for 30 days or longer would likely irritate them and lead to an increase in your spam reports.

12. Start with a brand new audience

If you have a high number of spam reports, you might be asked by our team to archive all of your existing contacts (people in Encharge) and start building a new contact list from scratch.

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