If you’re concerned about how many of your e-mails end up in your customers’ inboxes, make sure you’re not focusing on the lesser of the delivery evils. Spam filters are not as big a deal for direct marketers as their spam complaint rates, says Reggie Brady, president of Reggie Brady Marketing Solutions, a direct and e-mail marketing consultancy in Norwalk, Conn. While filters definitely can pose a challenge to getting e-mails in front of customers, Brady advises companies to watch their complaint rate “like a hawk,” since a high rate can get your IP address blacklisted.
To get a handle on your complaint rate, sign up for feedback loops with the ISPs (AOL, Juno and NetZero offer such response insight). Also, make it easy for people to indicate which of your messages they consider spam by including an “abuse@” or “postmaster@” address in all your e-mails. Another best practice is to register these spam-complaint addresses with Abuse.net, which is a sort of clearinghouse of individual marketers’ spam-complaint contact addresses. When consumers get confused about how to contact you with regard to your e-mail, Abuse.net is where they go. If you’re not listed, they might report you as a spammer to their ISP—which you can bet is listed on Abuse.net.
And do the next smart thing, Brady urges, by removing from your e-mail promotions list those people who reported your e-mail message as spam, regardless of whether they complained to an ISP or directly to you.