To Spam or Unsubscribe – The differences and how Spam or Unsubscribe can hurt if used improperly.
If you are certain the email you’re receiving is Spam, then hit that button. This means that you don’t know that person. Mark it as junk and spam. Don’t hit the unsubscribe button, because that only verifies your email address to spammers, and possible vulnerability to malware.
However, if you did opt-in at one time, met someone at networking, anything in the normal way of doing business, it’s more accurate to hit the unsubscribe button to get removed from the list. That’s proper business practices. You could hurt the business by hitting the spam button.
What is the difference between reporting a legitimate message as spam and unsubscribing from a list?
From the perspective of the user, the unsubscribe feature is for those who opted into a list at some point and then changed their mind, grew tired of the message or who just wanted to be removed.
Reporting as spam is what happens when a user gets tired of receiving unsolicited emails that they never wanted in the first place. This helps police the world of email and keeps us from all having thousands of junk messages every hour. Marking something as spam not only deletes the message (puts it in the trash) it also teaches your email software what you consider spam so that it can better detect and block nefarious messages in the future and adapt as the spammers change their tricks.
From the perspective of the Email Service Provider (ESP) the complaint filed by reporting a message as spam is first sent to the ISP (ie: Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook). Then if the ESP (ie: Constant Contact) is set up with the ISPs feedback loop, the complaint(s) will then be forwarded to the ESP which is then automatically processed and recorded for the given client.
When a recipient unsubscribes from an email, the request is completed immediately by the ESP, and that person’s email is recorded as unsubscribed, and they won’t receive any more of your email messages. You may opt for specific lists that they can choose to be removed from, or the frequency.
As you can see there are a few more steps to unsubscribe, making it a little more time consuming. Taking the easy way out, however, and reporting as spam will affect the clients sending reputation much more than having a recipient unsubscribe, because the request is logged by the ISP. Again, if it’s spam, hit the spam button. If it’s a legitimate business, unsubscribe.
To help reduce the odds of a recipients doing either of these options, I recommend that you send re-opt-in emails regularly, this is referred to as permission based opt-in email. This will keep those that want to continue receiving your mail engaged and also allow you to segment or remove those that no longer want to be on the mailing list.
In both cases, the end result is someone wanted to be removed. Subscribers are removed from your list, never to be emailed to again. In both cases, contacts took action by telling you they don’t want to receive your communications again.
This is why you really have to treat your email marketing lists like gold. You need to not only engage your users by providing value but at the same time, you do not want to upset anyone by not following best practices and remaining compliant.
The cold, hard truth in the end is that for some, it is a lot easier to clean the inbox by reporting all unwanted messages as spam rather than unsubscribing from each individual piece of mail. It’s a bad habit to adopt, as you could hurt the orignial legitamit business’ reputation.
6 Mistakes that Can Get Your Emails Marked as Spam
You’re not a spammer. You value customer relationships and have worked hard to build the trust with your customer base, and grow your email list. After all, that’s why you do all the marketing effort of crafting a great newsletter to send to them.
But even with all the work that you’re doing, you’re still seeing some spam complaints when you send your email marketing campaigns and may be wondering how to avoid being marked as spam.
How to avoid being marked as spam
While there’s no foolproof system for avoiding spam reports completely, there are certain warning signs you can watch out for as you prepare to send your next email campaign.
Let’s take a look at 6 common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid:
- Not asking for permission
People open email from people they know, and they delete or mark as spam email from people they don’t recognize. And if you haven’t been consistent with sending out your emails, they can often forget they originally signed up, or met you a while ago.
Asking permission also keeps you in compliance with legislation such the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-Spam) and the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).
- Hiding your identity
The “From” line should clearly state you and/or your company, so they trust who it’s coming from. The best way to do this is by using an email address that includes your business’s website. Another easy fix is to add your branding to the emails you send out. Include your logo in a prominent location at the top of your email and choose colors that represent your business. This is being professional.
- Sending irrelevant content
I talk about this at every seminar or webinar I present. Marketing comes down to what’s in it for the recipient, the reader. Keep that focus. Even if people aren’t marking your emails as spam, if they aren’t interested in what you’re sending, it’s likely that they will send your emails to trash without giving you a second thought. Ask your customer what they would be interested in, and send that.
- Breaking promises
When someone signs up to receive your email communications, they do so with the expectation of receiving something of value. If you don’t communicate clearly what that value is — or if they are signing up for one thing and receiving something different — you could be putting yourself at risk.
Give subscribers clear expectations before they share their email address. Let them know how often they’ll be hearing from you, what type of information they’ll receive, and why it’s a good idea to sign up.
Then, set up an auto-responder welcome email to re-affirm their decision and remind them about what they’re going to receive.
And finally, be consistent in sending out – whether it’s once a month, twice a month, etc. Decide which timeframe to send out your newsletters, mark it on your calendar with a reminder, and do it.
- Overwhelming your audience
Selling your products or services is an important part of email marketing, but if you’re sending too much promotional material you could be driving some people away.
This is why it’s so important to find a balance in the type of content you send out. As a standard, it’s recommend 80 percent helpful/informative content and 20 percent promotional.
That is the exact reason I started sending out value added, helpful marketing tools in my newsletters, with occasionally offering promotions.
When you are including promotional content, make sure it’s timely and relevant to the person you’re trying to reach. People are much more receptive to promotions if it helps them solve a problem they are faced with at that time.
- Making it difficult to opt-out
Often, people will mark email as spam because they simply want to get off a list.
While it can be difficult to let go, if you have people who aren’t interested in receiving your emails, it’s better to give them the option to opt out than to try to keep them on your email list.
If you’re a Constant Contact customer, there will be an unsubscribe link in every email you send out. Often, people will reply to your email and ask to be taken off your list, so make sure you’re monitoring that particular email.
If you’re focused on providing value to your email audience and are taking the right steps to obtain permission, you’re already on the right track to avoiding spam complaints.
Hopefully these tips help you solve your spam setbacks.
About LynAnn King, KingSings PR & Constant Contact ALE
LynAnn King partners with successful small businesses and empowers entrepreneurs to deliver compelling marketing communications, special events promotions and media campaigns. She brings her visionary leadership in rolling out creative marketing campaigns that create visibility and media coverage. Her clients partner with KingSings PR as their marketing and branding expert.
PR: KingSingsPR.com | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 650.550.0090