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Deliverability Reminders: How Feedback Loops Work

How Feedback Loops Work

We wanted to just revisit some common questions that we get asked about frequently (and it's a good refresher for seasoned marketers).

So... for the next several weeks, we're going to address a different question each week to keep the snippets short, simple and actionable for you! If you have any questions you'd like to see answered, please submit them and we'll be happy to add them in to the list!

Q4. How do Feedback Loops Work?

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding feedback loops, so we wanted to take this week to address a few of the common ones.

First things first. In order to use the feedback tools in your email program, you need to sign up for feedback loops with all of the major ISPs that offer them (this is done for you when your account is set up with EmailDelivered).

Then, when someone clicks the “spam” button, a message is sent to the email address that is used at the time the feedback loops are setup. This basically is a notification that someone has complained that the message is unwanted.

Next those complainers should be removed from your list immediately. We personally recommend putting them on a suppression file so they can’t opt back in to your list and hit the spam button again in the future. In some cases, a subscriber will mistakenly report your message as spam and you may need to manually remove the person from your suppression file, but this is far and few between.

When you get “too many complaints” in the early part of a campaign, the mail can be delayed, deferred or even cause your IP to get blocked. If you get “too many complaints” over time, your reputation begins to suffer, and your IP and/or domain begin to develop a bad reputation.

Having said that, there’s some confusion as to what “too many complaints” actually means.

Most people simply look at their stats and assume that if they’re less than .1%, then they don’t have a complaint problem. (That’s less than 1 per 1000). Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case and is a very simplistic understanding of feedback loops. It’s a little more complex than that!

For example, if you were to get 100 complaints on a send to 100,000 people, you’re likely going to see an impact with your deliverability, though it may be a temporary one if the issue is temporary.

But… also keep in mind that Gmail, for example, doesn’t follow the same process with complaints. You don’t go “sign up” for their program, per se. So often, complaints from Gmail are not calculated in this number.

NOTE: There is a message header that goes into your emails, where Gmail, at their discretion, can let you know someone has complained. If you click the spam button in Gmail, you’ll see an option to click and unsubscribe or just mark as spam. If you click and unsubscribe, the contact is then sent to the email address in the headers and should be removed from your list. BUT… these complaints are generally not factored

In addition, it also depends WHEN those complaints came in.

Let’s say you send out to 100,000 people and wind up with 99 complaints at the end of the campaign. BUT… 50 of those complaints came in on the first 20,000 messages that went out. The acceptable threshold is now exceeded and the ISP may block the rest of your messages, throttle the delivery, etc.

Then, if you were to look at the addresses that make up the complaints, you might find that 30 of those complaints are Yahoo subscribers, which comprised 8,000 addresses. Now, you’re almost 4x the “generally acceptable” complaint rates. Yahoo then throttles your email, eventually blocks your IP and then over time decides that mail coming from you is SPAM!

This happens more often than you might think, so it’s important to really take a good look at your complaint rates

The .1% complaint RATE is more of a guideline for you to see how people are responding to your email campaigns (and autoresponders) and whether or not your mail is wanted.

One recommendation is to send to the more engaged users first (who are LEAST likely to complain) and then send to the less engaged people.

Next week...
Q5. What Should I Be Tracking?


For over a decade Heather Seitz used email marketing to build successful companies and had to solve the biggest barrier to consistent profitability: deliverability.  Today she is the Co-Founder and CEO of Email Delivered.

To know how feedback loops work and discover other deliverability secrets of the most successful email marketers, visit http://www.emaildelivered.com/category/email-deliverability/ Remember to sign up for the FREE Email Delivered Pulse newsletter for articles, tips, and recommended resources for email marketers.

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How to Get Your Emails to the Inbox

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June 15, 2016


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