Using Feedback Loops Effectively

Getting email delivered has become an overtly complex job.  As large email service providers generate more restrictive spam filters and email blocking technologies, it is vital to any email marketer to stay on top of recipient’s feedback.  One crucial tool that the largest email service providers employ is Feedback Loops.  Deploying the use of feedback loops effectively will help reduce spam complaints, identify active users, and improve deliverability.

In order to create value from feedback loops, recipient identity, message identity, and server identity must link to the feedback report.  This poses a problem as providers redact a recipient’s contact information, and in many circumstances corrupt the body content of the message before sending a report.  To get around this hurdle, insert a separate recipient identifier tag into all messages sent.  Test the tag by embedding it in the body of the email, then sending it through major email providers to ensure that the tag maintained its integrity while in transit.  Once a working tag is in place, a program could parse through your feedback reports, extract the identity tag, and insert the tag information into a database with a timestamp to derive further data later.

It is important to recognize that just because an end user activated a feedback report, this does not necessarily mean the report should be treated as an unsubscribe request.  In fact, typically, users that click the “report spam” button are generally your most active recipients; they are opening, reading, and clicking your content.  These users are taking action, albeit that action is a complaint; that action is just a report stating the recipient did not want the message.  Using this report identifies the user and the message you sent them.  Take steps to ensure the recipient does not receive that category or type of mailing again; change the frequency in which you mail the recipient, and then mark that user as an active recipient.  After adjusting the mail to that recipient, it would be possible to conclude either of the following:  they initiated another report and they do not want the mail, or they got the mail and it was something that sparked their interest.  Regardless, it is possible to generate demographical data by looking at the email content to see what topics the recipient shows interest or lack thereof.  Store the demographical data and then use it to target mailing more effectively in the future.

Beyond identifying active users through a feedback loop, it is important to get recipients that clearly do not want mail off the distribution list.  A repeated complaint from the same user flags a mailer as a spammer.  This can cause a message to deliver directly into a bulk folder, or even worse, cause delivery to fail all together.  Avoid this situation by unsubscribing the user from future mailings, after receiving several reports from this recipient in a short amount time.

Mail providers use many complex algorithms to filter email.  The largest and most sophisticated networks monitor sender reputation using the following elements:  past mail volume, current mail volume, complaint rates, bounce rates.  By identifying active recipients and sending them offers they prefer to receive, complaints per volume sent drops; this results in better delivery rates.  On the other hand, removing repeat complainers will also cause the complaint rate to drop.

Email delivery is a headache for email service providers, marketers, end users and most likely, everyone in between.  There are many ways to improve deliverability.  Breaking this down to the simplest of terms “do not send people email they don’t want”; feedback loops offer a valuable tool to accomplish that goal.  Implementing them effectively will improve user response, delivery rates, and most importantly, a profit margin.

Leave a Reply