Microsoft recently changed how they calculate complaint rates from their email users. As a result, some senders may see an increase in complaint rates which may cause deliverability problems resulting in more email being delivered to the junk folder.
Complaints are commonly based on the “this is spam” or “report junk” button in webmail interfaces. Mailbox providers will take the total amount of complaints divided by the total amount of emails delivered to the inbox to calculate “complaint rate.” But recently, Microsoft also started counting messages moved to the junk folder as a complaint. This is true for all Microsoft webmail properties, mobile apps, and email accessed via IMAP (i.e. Microsoft emails moved to the spam folder in iOS Mail will generate a complaint).
On one hand, this is great news. Microsoft mobile mail users and email users that use non-Microsoft email clients now have a way of reporting email as junk without the need for a native “report junk” button. This is also good news for email marketers as it provides an easier way for people to opt-out of emails, especially for mobile readers, ensuring marketers can maintain clean email lists of subscribers that want their emails. Maintaining clean lists of engaged subscribers is paramount to getting your email delivered to the inbox.
However, marketers may see some higher complaint reports, and as a result, a temporary decrease in their inbox placement rates. Marketers signed up for Microsoft’s Junk Mail Reporting Program (JMRP) will receive an FBL report when subscribers move their messages to the junk folder. If you’re not enrolled in Microsoft’s JMRP, you should do so as soon as possible. Over time, senders should see their complaint rates return to normal as email addresses are unsubscribed through the use of JMRP. If subscriber complaints continue to be an issue, senders can refer to our ebook, A Marketer’s Guide to Subscriber Complaints, for information on general complaint reduction.
We realize the change also closely coincided with the Return Path Certification acceptable complaint threshold for Microsoft. In December 2017, we reduced the complaint threshold from 0.4% to 0.2%. We are closely monitoring the impact to Certification customers and will make additional changes to the acceptable complaint threshold if necessary.
Questions or comments on the recent changes at Microsoft? Email me or leave a comment.
Email data and deliverability expert Tom Sather has worked with top-tier brands to diagnose and solve inbox placement and sender reputation issues as a strategic consultant with Return Path. As the company’s senior director of research, Tom is a frequent speaker and writer on email marketing trends and technology. His most recent analysis of new inbox applications’ effects on consumer behavior was widely cited across leading business media outlets including the Financial Times, Ad Age, and Media Post.
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