The goal of the email provider is to provide its users with an inbox full of required emails and to eliminate any spam. When subscribers complain about an email, they indicate to their email provider that they are not satisfied with that message reaching their inbox. As a result, service providers filter messages from IP addresses resulting in high complaint rates and mark them as spam. If the sender’s IP address receives frequent complaints from several users, the provider may go so far as to block it completely.
But there are complaints, even for the best shippers. Receiving a complaint is not necessarily inevitable. It can also be a useful indicator in email programs, allowing brands to improve their strategy and ultimately increase subscriber engagement and ROI.
Understand the different types of complaints
Many complaints are generated from the very beginning of the relationship with the new subscriber. It might sound paradoxical: Why sign up for an email program and immediately hit the spam button? This is often a matter of consent – subscribers may not initially realize that they agreed to be a part of the program! Thus, complaints are very frequent at the beginning of the relationship with the subscriber, and on average, it is four percent for the first emails sent.
Once new subscribers are registered, subsequent complaints are all about recognition. If recipients do not associate the brand they have subscribed to with the emails received, the risks increase. Many email programs provide a welcome message to confirm your new subscription. This plays an important role in building a relationship. In fact, the average welcome message read rate is 23%, well above the overall average. Even better, it is recommended to spread the welcome campaign on several emails in order to create more points of contact from the very beginning of the relationship with the subscriber.
As the brand progresses through the subscriber’s life cycle, other forms of complaints can arise for various reasons. They are often related to volume of transmission, frequency of transmission, or poorly understood expectations. The importance of sending emails that subscribers thought they were subscribing to cannot be overemphasized. If they think they have agreed to receive the newsletter and are only receiving commercial offers, they are more likely to file a complaint. If they think they get weekly emails and it turns out to be daily, they are more likely to complain. New subscribers may also be asked to communicate their preferences and provide other data (eg, “What are your favorite vacation destinations?”). If the resulting emails do not reflect those interests, they are more likely to file a complaint.
Some subscribers will eventually leave the email program – this is a fact. Instead of trying to make the process as difficult as possible, the marketing teams should let them go gently. If complaining is easier than walking away, this is what will happen.
Anticipate subscriber complaints
There is no need to wait for subscribers to express their dissatisfaction through a complaint. You can anticipate marketing teams by asking for feedback that they can use to improve their subscribers’ experience. For example, they can set up a “rank this email” function, send out regular surveys to customers, collect feedback across call centers and other CRM channels or implement an opt-out survey to learn from the experience of previous subscribers.
Marketers can also identify inactive subscribers. This helps measure the last time subscribers opened, clicked or forwarded a message and then directed them to the reactivation program. The most common stops are 90 days, 180 days and 365 days, which are often very late. In fact, on average, 34% opted out within the first 30 days of signing up.
It is important to understand that followers can interact with the brand, but they can also opt out of any of its communication channels. A good example of this is the subscriber who installed the trademark application. Marketing teams here can monitor engagement across channels and provide the ability to regulate the number of posts for each channel.
Use feedback loops to protect email programs
Some email providers make it easy to see who is complaining about a program and when, with brands that sign up for the feedback loop service.
Feedback loops, or FBLs, allow senders to receive messages from complaining subscribers. The email provider sends the message in the origin of the complaint to the sender, to a specific and configured email address, in particular allowing the brand to delete this user from its database.
Marketing teams must create a mailbox that receives bounce messages from email providers. This header should contain an analysis body capable of scanning each message to extract relevant information. Then the sender receives a copy of the sent message and can collect the data he wants, including the header and body of the message. At a minimum, a brand should remove the email address from its database.
Here are 3 tips for using feedback loop services:
- Delete subscriber complaint. The main purpose of the feedback loop process is to be able to remove the subscriber from its base. Marketing teams want to prevent their subscribers from filing multiple complaints, which could hurt their business. Moreover, complaints also result in emails being directed to the spam folder. As email providers are moving more and more towards participatory filtering, the amount of emails coming into the spam folder can damage their reputation as well.
- Determine the hacked IP addresses. Network security should not be taken lightly. FBLs also help report security issues by allowing the sender to see all complaints about a particular IP address. If this is compromised, the brand may, for example, receive complaints about messages that were never sent.
- Disclosure of problematic campaigns / acquisition methods. It is important to start by identifying the most problematic campaigns, and then evaluate other factors such as content and frequency. It’s also a great tool if there are many mailing list sources. Marketing teams may use a problematic resource that needs to be re-evaluated or broken down to another IP, to avoid harming the rest of the program.
Sometimes subscribers complain but that is only part of the e-marketing. However, looking into these complaints doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. By understanding the reasons why subscribers are not satisfied and making changes, marketing teams have the opportunity to create a better experience for better engagement and a better return on investment.
Author: Didier ColombaneDirector General of Southern Europe and the Benelux Countries, Return Path
(C) Figure. Pixabay