"Marked as Spam" observations on a recent large mailing.

I had an observation I wanted to pose to the community...

I've been a long time user of Campaign Monitor and consider myself well-versed on building, sending and managing a well formed mailing list.

Yesterday, I pulled the trigger on one of the larger campaigns I have ever sent for a major US ice cream dealer.  The existing list was transferred from another provider - and was well-maintained. The newsletter is regularly sent out ever 3 months.  Bounces were removed, unsubscribes were immediately removed, etc.  The only way anyone could be on the list was to fill out a subscribe form on the site.  We also covered out bases as well as can be by including an "Unsubscribe" immediately at the top of the email, as well as *why* they are receiving the message.

Anyway - I expected some skewed numbers on the first email.  It's usually always the case - and so far, I am rather pleased with the way it's going - especially the click-through rate.  What I am a bit surprised about is the "Marked as Spam" count.  We sent roughly 95,000 and currently have 134 marked as spam. 

What I've noticed of these is that a *large* and by large, I mean huge majority, of them are AOL users, with Hotmail second in the running.  I'm wondering if it's because their user-interface makes it so easy to hit this button that results in such a large number.  It's too bad that some users use the "Mark as Spam" button instead of simply clicking your "Unsubscribe Now" - it seems that people use it as a filter to get rid of email in general, rather than what it is intended for.

What's really frustrating is when you see a user use the "mark as spam" button when they not only filled out you subscribe form, but also took the time to fill out all the optional information too!  Ugh.

I'm going to experiment with our next mail - our usual header is simply text.  I don't necessarily want my "Unsubscribe" button to stick out like a sore thumb, but if anyone has any suggestions on how to make it appear more prevalent that the "Report as Span" button, then I am all ears.

Luckilly, I've found Campaign Monitor's reporting to be the best in the industry.  The stats we'll get should allow us to do a good job of getting all our numbers much, much better on the next round.  I'm also looking forward to checking out the E-mail client reporting on this one too.

Anyway - just some observations - I'd be interested in striking up a conversation on this one here ....

Mathew Mathew, 8 years ago

Hey Jason,

Thanks for the post, The main reason you will normally see most of your spam complaints from Hotmail / AOL is that 1) They are among the biggest email providers in the world, and 2) They provide the feedback loop that lets us  get the complaint information directly into your reports.

Other email providers don't have feedback loops, so we can't tell if someone is trashing an email as spam.

It does suck that people hit the spam button even when they have signed up, and our policies take that into account with a margin of safety before any action is taken.

Making your permission reminder very obvious up front, and your unsubscribe easily reachable is a great idea.

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marchman, 7 years ago

I know this is rather after the fact but I saw a very interesting way to try and avoid the report as spam button being pushed. It was to simply add a button on your email header or footer which is to titled "Mark as Spam" The link then redirects the user to CM's Unsubscribe section.
Instead of trying to change behavior you change the result.

Chr1s, 7 years ago

Very nice post Jason.

Actually, showing your unsubscribe option as a button (image) might not be a good idea. Images are generally not shown by default after all, so text is probably better.

Another possible tweak is to make sure your unsubscribe (link) text is always shown clearly, in all clients. White text on dark background sometimes gets invisible, because of the background not showing (or not immediately showing), or Gmail could turn your links blue for example (and if your background is dark or blue...).

It may be a silly idea, but how about experimenting with copy like "You really, really gave us permission to email you. It's totally cool if you changed your mind, but please don't blacklist us: just click here to unsubscribe immediately. Thanks!"

Of course, with the impressive numbers you're sending, A/B testing would give great insights in what would work and what not. I'm really hoping you'll keep sharing your experiences. Good luck with your efforts!

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