The “Gift” of Complaints

Posted by Heather Steffonich 

The holidays are right around the corner, so you know what that means—you have to start getting gifts for everyone! It is often said around here that “feedback is a gift.” If that is the case, then spam complaints should be considered a gift as they are feedback from subscribers that something is turning them away from your mail.

If you have had the chance to read through The Marketer’s Guide to Subscriber Complaints, then you will know that with this gift of complaints, there are lots of ways to make sure you can get your email program back on track. Using the information from the guide, you can either proactively or reactively mitigate complaint issues.

The Subscriber Welcome Gift

In order to reduce complaints its best to start where your subscribers start; during the opt in process.

  • Consider implementing a confirmed/validated opt-in process
  • Use real-time email address verification
  • Scrub list for any malformed addresses or unknown users
  • If sending third party mail—consider a separate opt-in process and email verification

It’s also important to consider what will happen after your latest subscriber signs up for your mail. You will need to make sure the customer receives a prompt welcome message and even consider a welcome series.

But what I think is the greatest gift you can offer your subscribers is setting the proper expectations. Be sure to:

  • Communicate what type of mail they will be receiving
  • How often they can expect emails from you
  • Will they be receiving mail from affiliates or other brands?

The Gift of Relevancy

Have you ever received an email that was tailored perfectly to you? Maybe it was highlighting something you had recently been shopping for? Or sending you something related to a milestone in your life? No matter the content, it always feels personalized when we get emails tailored to our specific wants and needs.

Subscribers are less likely to complain when they feel the emails being sent to them are relevant to them. Preference centers are an excellent way to capture subscribers’ interests that will allow you to trigger more relevant messages to those who want it. I always appreciate it when the company I sign up for “gifts” me with the opportunity to update my preference on the welcome message. I also love it when the preference center shows examples of what the subscriber would be receiving like this example from Lowes.

If you don’t have the ability to implement a preference center, or just like to collect more data to send triggered messaging, you can always use other data sources to target and personalize to your customers. You can use data such as browser behavior or purchase behavior. You can even use data from Return Path’s Email Client Monitor to further achieve personalized content. For example, by using the location and subscriber ID features in Email Client Monitor, you will see where your subscriber is opening up their mail. If you notice your subscriber is consistently opening up their mail in Miami, you might want to send them emails about swimsuits and not winter coats.

And the Gifts Keep on Coming…

By reading the Marketer’s Guide to Subscriber Complaints, you will be able to take a deep dive into the gifts you can give your subscribers in order to reduce complaints. I think it’s important to mention to not forget to:

  • Offer an easy way for subscribers to unsubscribe so that they do not complain
  • Sign up for feedback loops (they are a free gift!)
  • Pay attention to your frequency—do not send too much mail to overwhelm the subscriber but also don’t send too little that they forget about you
  • Think about your subject line—make your subject line stand out (use the Subject Line Optimizer tool from Return Path)

And if these are not enough gifts to get you through the complaints of the holiday season, check out the Marketer’s Guide to Subscriber Complaints. Email deliverability gifts are always the gifts that keep on giving.

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About Heather Steffonich

As a Technical Account Manager at Return Path, Heather works with many customers to optimize their email programs. Heather enjoys playing "technical detective" by digging into to customer's accounts and troubleshooting deliverability issues. When not at work, you can catch Heather teaching tap, jazz, and ballet to students of all ages. Connect with her at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heathersack

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