Email Marketing Engagement

Dealing with Complaints

How to deal with spam complaints and protect your email sender rating.

Spam complaints of your email marketing campaigns will have a huge impact on the deliverability to your customers. Should the complaint rate of your sends remain at a high level, your account may be suspended to prevent further unwanted messages from being sent – effectively ending your campaign!

With this in mind, it’s important to understand why subscribers complain and how to avoid this altogether – which is why we’ll be covering this in our blog post.

Why email subscribers complain

The main reasons why subscribers complain about receiving emails:

  • They never signed up or agreed to receive emails from the sender
  • Sending frequency, sending too often
  • They don’t like/want to receive the content of the emails sent to them

How they complain

When an email subscriber complains about an email, they normally don’t tell you, and instead inform their ISP. This makes it difficult for you to know that a recipient has complained about an email. There are a different ways how they complain about the unwanted emails.

  • They click on the spam button in their email application.
  • They forward it to the abuse department of your ESP or ISP.
  • They forward it to a spam filtering company like Spamhaus, etc.

Web based email service providing ISPs (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) simply  count the votes. For most ISPs a 0.05% complaint ratio is acceptable. So, if you send to 100,000 recipients and receive 49 complaints, you’re safe.

ISPs define SPAM more and more as anything their users have marked that they don’t want in their inbox by using the “Mark as SPAM” button.

Here’s some ideas on how to reduce the complaint rate:

How to reduce Spam Complaints about your Email Marketing

  • Double Opt-in

Only send to email addresses that have confirmed that they want to receive your emails – twice! This not only indicates their interest, but also gives you proof that they opted in, providing cover from spam laws such as CASSL and CAN-SPAM.

  • Segment

SharpSpring Mail + allows you to segment your list and send relevant content to your customers based on their interests.

Sending emails should be a service, not a nuisance. If you’re not sending relevant information, you’re not conducting an effective email marketing campaign!

  • Set expectations

Tell your customers what you will send them and at what frequency.

This can be done before the sign up so that subscribers know what they’re getting into.

Furthermore, it’s important to keep to your promise, as deceiving subscribers will not only put your email in the spam folder, but also into hot water with legislation!

  • Include a live link to unsubscribe

Or a return email address that enables the recipient to request that you do not send future email messages to them.

For Example: “Click on this link to unsubscribe to our mailing list [live link].” or “To no longer receive these emails, please reply to this email with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line.”

Just as important is to make this process as apparent and simple as possible for the subscriber. There’s nothing worse than jumping through hoops to unsubscribe or searching for a vague, tiny unsubscribe option in an email from years ago. These people do easier things – like report you to their ISP.

SharpSpring Mail + includes an unsubscribe link at the bottom of each email by default to keep you on the right side of email marketing legislation.

  • Frequency

Many customers mark emails as spam because they feel they are getting too many.

On the other extreme, sending too few emails may let forget them who you are and why you are sending them emails. Find the right balance for the frequency, and check the results of your campaigns to see what works best.

  • Consistent design / layout

Make sure that your customers recognize your email very quickly and want to read it. Use a consistent design and message.

SharpSpring Mail +’s hundreds of email templates can help you out with this, keeping your email marketing consistent and professional.

A “from address” that is recognizable very quickly as your company will also create trust in your communication with your customers.

  • Remove inactive subscribers

If all else fails and you cannot re-engage with inactive customers, remove them from your list.

Inactive subscribers are just dead weight and may even start to report your email as spam, hurting your delivery rating for those who do actually engage with your email.

Get to the Inbox!

Avoiding Spam complaints is how you keep your email marketing sends going, your campaign floating and your bank account growing!

It’s all about getting to the inbox. It’s what gets the word out about your product, breeds success and makes you money. That’s why our SMTP sending servers have a 98% delivery rate, the highest in the industry. Wouldn’t you want the best of the best to work for you?

Work with the us, and we’ll worry about the rest – join SMTP and win back the inbox.

Stay tuned to the blog to find out more ways to get SMTP sender certified and take your email marketing campaign to the next level!


  • Author: maryka.burger

  • Maryka has worked across multiple industries ranging from hard news journalism to digital tech companies and advertising. She is an expert at building online presence, and offers a wealth of knowledge on digital marketing, social media and automation trends to agencies and digital start-ups.