When people receive email that they think is spam, they can just click a button in their email client to label it as such. In most cases, once that button has been clicked, an abuse report is created and sent to the recipient’s email program or ISP. If enough of these reports are received, an automated warning message will be sent to the sender.
When you use Mailchimp, an abuse complaint will be generated each time someone marks your campaign as spam, thanks to the feedback loop in place for most ISPs. We’ll immediately remove that recipient’s email address from your active list and into the abuse complaints area of your account.
Once abuse complaints reach our threshold, you will receive a warning from our abuse team. If the complaint rates exceed that threshold, your account will be suspended, and our team will need to conduct an investigation into your list collection process.
High levels of spam and abuse from a user can result in the IP addresses being blacklisted by ISPs and anti-spam organizations. And, if you use Mailchimp for sending—or any email marketing service, for that matter—that means your emails can affect the deliverability of hundreds of thousands of other legitimate marketers. It’s very serious—one bad apple can truly spoil the whole bunch.
That’s why we’ve developed Omnivore; we’re constantly monitoring incoming complaints, and we have a team of human reviewers that review Mailchimp accounts.
Accidental abuse reports
You don’t have to be a spammer to get reported for spamming. Even legitimate marketers who only use opt-in lists can have their email reported as spam, even if it’s not. Sometimes it’s a simple mistake, like when an user clicks the spam button to unsubscribe from an email.
Since it’s almost inevitable that you’ll receive complaints every now and then, Mailchimp is constantly monitoring abuse reports from ISPs, blacklists, and anti-spam networks, so we can immediately pinpoint problems as they arise and investigate the account in question.
Tips and Best Practices
In email marketing, it’s important to remember that permission is key. Without permission, you could be reported for abuse whether or not you’re a legitimate marketer. These tips can help you prevent spam complaints as you start sending email to subscribers:
Choose your opt-in method wisely
Mailchimp’s standard signup forms, by default, use the double opt-in method. Double opt-in is valuable because you’ll know (and have proof) that each and every recipient gave you permission to send them emails.
But there are a number of other popular signup methods (API, integrations, etc) that allow for single opt-in, and we certainly are not discounting the validity of those, either. Ultimately, the most important thing is that your recipients give you permission to email them. You’ll need to consider your audience and the applicable legal requirements in your area to determine which opt-in method is right for you.
Don’t use purchased, rented, or scraped lists
Don’t assume you have permission
Even if your intended recipients are already your customers (or your colleagues, or people you met at a trade show, etc), do not send promotional email without getting permission first. Consider adding a signup form to your website or giving customers the option to sign up for your list when they make a purchase from your store.
Set expectations when people join your list
If your subscribers think they’re signing up for monthly newsletters and you start sending them weekly promotions, they might not be subscribers for much longer. Tell people what you’ll be sending and how often you’ll be sending it. If you want to send out different content (monthly newsletters, weekly special offers, etc.), consider setting up groups in your list so subscribers can choose what content they want to receive from you.
Every mailing list can go stale if it’s not used regularly, even if subscribers were originally collected via double opt-in. Lists with a lot of stale addresses can lead to high rates of bounces, spam complaints, and unsubscribes.
In addition to keeping an up to date permission reminder in each campaign, consider setting up a process where new subscribers receive emails from you right away, perhaps through a welcome email sent with Mailchimp’s automation features.
If you’re worried that your list has gone stale, we recommend removing the list and reconfirming outside of Mailchimp.
Treat your email campaigns as an extension of your brand
Your customers probably already have an idea of what type of content, imagery, and design elements to expect from you, so don’t stray too far and risk harming that recognition factor. If you have any questions about what content, designs, or subject lines your customers will respond to and engage with, don’t just leave it to chance—use Mailchimp’s testing features to find out.
Don’t hide the unsubscribe/opt-out link in your campaigns. Mailchimp (and the CAN-SPAM Act) requires that an unsubscribe link be present in every campaign that you send. When the link is prominent, people who no longer wish to receive your emails will be able to quickly and easily remove themselves from your mailing list. When the link is hard to find, the recipient might be more inclined to mark your message as spam, resulting in an abuse complaint within your Mailchimp account.