Account Termination - A harsh lesson you don't want to repeat!

I though I should post this as a warning to others who may make the same mistake’s as me and have ALL your clients accounts suspended!

I am a web designer who manages a handful of clients (about a dozen or so). A few of them send out the occasional email to their customer databases and campaign monitor looked like a great way to simplify things and get better feedback on what was going on.

I setup two clients and over a few months sent out a few emails. One of my clients received a higher than normal spam score on their initial email which worried me a bit but I saw a mention about this occurring with newly setup lists and the second email spam score did drop, although still not within campaign monitor’s guidelines of 1 in 5000 emails.

Then I make my mistake. I added a client who had not sent any email to their customers in almost two years. As this was a large list (7500) which had not heard from the company in a long time (potentially) we decided to send out a simple short text email (no fancy graphics) inviting  them to send feedback on their product with a chance to win a prize for participating. Well, it turned to custard,  I saw the spam score the next morning at about (0.5%) and by the end of the week it was up to 1%. I can only assume the list age and the fact we forgot to remove customers who had returned their products was the cause of the problem.

I then get an email from campaign monitor saying that my account has been suspended including ALL other clients. I contacted support and pleaded my case but they have denied reinstating my account even with the problem company removed.

SO, Lesson learnt the hard way:

1. Don’t work under pressure and assume things will be ok
2. Don’t send to such a big list as an initial email – test first
3. Don’t add multiple clients to one account unless your OK with all of them loosing access if something goes bad.

This is particularly embarrassing as I am just finishing the integration of 5 ecommerce stores with Campaign Monitor’s API to collect opt-in emails addresses and another firm I am working with was working to get their internal CRM system to use their API.

While I can understand the need to control spam and the issues this can cause campaign monitor the fact that one client can cause all the rest of your clients to get banned is a problem.

I would be interested in feedback and comments from others.

torweb, 8 years ago

Bad luck...sorry.  For all of my first time clients, I make sure their first emailing is a text only that explains they are going to be sending out a newsletter and ask if they would like to be included to receive a copy.  I have them explain that if they wish to NOT receive a copy, their name will be removed from the database and they will NEVER receive email unless it's an answer to something they sent.  I have them explain that if they want to participate, they can also be removed instantly at any time at which point they will never receive email again.

I keep a copy of this database as proof of the effort to verify all of the my names. 

I do think that Campaign Monitor put some plan into action that allows the this case you, to contact your clients if they decide to send out a campaign that is SPAM.  You can close their account yourself with a warning that their SPAM count is too high and if the next campaign has the same result, you will terminate their account.  I understand what Campaign Monitor must do but a little less militaristic approach would be nicer. 

Give you the option of fixing the problem...if you don't then Campaign Monitor can use the "firing squad" approach...and should.

Campaign monitor is a great solution and we should all work together to keep it running smooth for as long as possible....after all, there will be some new competition for them...they know it and need our loyal help.

Dave Dave, 8 years ago

Thanks so much for the honest feedback guys, that's much appreciated. We're not far off launching a tweaked approach to excessive spam complaints that will ensure all clients are not impacted by one rotten egg.

As I'm sure you can understand, we need to take a harsh line on these incidents to ensure great deliverability for our tens of thousands of other customers. Having said that, we're trying our best to ensure a single client doesn't have such a profound impact on all your other clients. We'll be announcing more on the blog when these changes are complete.

kanear, 8 years ago

I'm actually really concerned about a campaign running right now. It is a very large first list, but the source was supposedly verified by the client (I asked at least three times). We held up the campaign while we insisted on things like an unsubscribe link and confirmed opt in on the accompanying website for new subscribers etc

But now it's sitting at 33% bounce rate (does that include out of office??? Bounce summary page is giving me errors at the moment) and 0.06% spam rate.

I've another high profile campaign for a government client that we send out every month and that is scheduled for tomorrow morning which I'm now very worried about.

aquaman, 8 years ago

Just thought I would add an update to this thread... I have now moved two of my clients off to their own accounts and have sent out an email for each. In this process I have learnt a lot about how to reduce spam complaints, so far only 1 complaint for about 4000 emails.

Dave Dave, 8 years ago

Hi guys, as a further update, we're very close to releasing a new approach to excess spam complaints that we think is much fairer to you and your clients. Keep an eye on the blog for the details.

Greg66, 7 years ago

I have a client on whose behalf I've been sending out newsletters with almost non-existent spam rating for a while now. Recently the client took on a partner who brought with her a database of over 10K names.
I was instructed to simply add the names to the original database. Not wanting to get the "firing squad" I would like to know what's the course of action here; should I send out a text email first with an "opt in" link? What's the safest way of doing this?

Diana Diana, 7 years ago

Hi Greg,

What do you mean by "brought with her a database of over 10K names."? Unless those 10k individuals explicitly and directly asked to hear from the exact sender of the email (your client) then they wouldn't have permission to send to them. It sounds like these might be the contacts of the new partner, which wouldn't be allowable. What you'd want to do is have the new partner get in touch through their own email and just send an opt-in email letting them know about the new company and their mailing list and give them a chance to subscribe to it. Then anyone who does would be fine and you'll also have that record of subscription if any complaints pop up down the line.

D. Potter
Campaign Monitor
anthodges anthodges, 7 years ago

So can someone clarify for me what happens if you do get a rotten egg in the basket of your account as Dave mentions... I am taking on more and more ecommerce clients and these guys have customers that have only bought once in the last 2 years... will they see this as spam and hit the report for spam button?

roshodgekiss roshodgekiss, 7 years ago

Hi Ant, take a look at this solid help topic on what happens if your clients hit the spam complaint threshold.

It's hard to say what will happen without knowing more about the lists, but the likelihood of spam complaints will certainly be less if these subscribers have been contacted within this 2 year period. You might want to check out this example of a good permission reminder for tips on how to re-engage subscribers that haven't been contacted in a while. Give us a buzz if you have any questions :)

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anthodges anthodges, 7 years ago

Thanks roshodgekiss

matt@gdc, 6 years ago

roshodgekiss, it makes sense for us as an agency to keep all our client activity in one account, so we share some of the concerns above, a quick question: let's say a client approaches us with a list of 5000 "current" clients names, we have no way to really challenge whether they're current clients so with caution in mind we insist that they run a permission reminder first (as your link above), and that campaign confirms our suspicions and gets a high spam score, we've done the right thing but won't our account still get suspended and all our other clients punished?

davidaf davidaf, 6 years ago

Hi Matt,

If it's the first time your account has gotten high enough complaints for a closure, then it will only suspend the client's account and it won't affect your other clients. If you feel like it's something that may be risky, for example your client cannot prove their opt in methods and you can only take their word for it, you might try sending to a small subsection of the list to test the waters, so to speak, before sending something to all 5000 recipients.

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Gareth, 5 years ago

I've just received my first Spam Complaint Warning - after using CM for several years. To be honest I scared my a little! I can't afford to loose my Account for the sake of one client.

I've sent regular large campaigns (50-80k) for this particular client over several years with no issue. Then they stopped for around 9 months. They recently asked for a new campaign and I sent it without question to their updated database of 80k recipients. We then get a 0.29% spam rating!!!

I guess the problem was the gap between the campaigns was too long. My problem now is that my client wants to send a new campaign to the same database. I presume it should now be cleaner after not receive a high spam rating!

My question is should I risk it or just say no?
Or would it be advised to send the campaign in smaller chunks - I guess this would depend on if the spam rating was number or percentage based.

roshodgekiss roshodgekiss, 5 years ago

Hi Gareth, it's really hard to say what you should do next, without us taking a look at the campaign and your account. By all means, please get in touch with our team with details - we'l happily make recommendations as to what your client can do better next time around.

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