A feedback loop (FBL) provides you with information about recipients who have dumped your message into their junk or spam folder. In industry terms, this quarantining of your message to the junk folder is known as a complaint.
So what? Somebody complained. Why should you care?
Well, it’s imperative you keep your email list data clean, maintaining a positive sender score, and ensuring deliverability.
If you’ve gone to all the trouble of designing a beautiful message, to engage subscribers and sell your product, you want it to land in as many inboxes as possible. A low complaint rate will ensure more of what you want, and less of what you don’t.
What does a feedback loop look like?
Not all ISPs offer feedback loops, but the ones that do will usually send you the message that received the complaint, and the address of the recipient.
At that point, you’ve determined that the previously engaged subscriber is no longer interested in what you’ve got to say, so it’s time to remove them from your email list—immediately.
Minimizing spam complaints ensures that your overall spam score is kept to a minimum. This score determines whether future campaigns to the ISPs are going to class as spam or valuable messages appropriate for their customers’ inboxes.
What else can you learn from a feedback loop?
There’s plenty of data to analyze from your feedback loops. The most important is keeping your email address and domain complaint-free, of course, maintaining that low spam score we spoke of.
You can also use your feedback loops to spot unhealthy sending patterns. If your FBL spikes after a specific campaign, it provides an opportunity to understand why. Was your content offensive? Inappropriate? Out-dated? Or was it any of these things to one particular demographic?
Your subscribers aren’t always upset with you; sometimes they’re just lazy
One of the on-going issues with spam filters and complaint buttons is that for many recipients, they’re far easier to use than the unsubscribe button contained within your email.
There are times when tracking down the unsubscribe option means scrolling miles down a page, or spotting it in a tiny text block. Clicking that big, bold button at the top of the page saves the recipient time and effort.
Either way, a complaint or an unsubscribe is an address that should no longer be on your list or your campaigns. Your FBL will deliver those addresses, so that you can strip them out.
How do you set up a feedback loop?
The providers that offer feedback loops have their own application processes, so you’ll need to follow their instructions to get set up. Some may require DKIM authentication, your IP address, and you must have admin rights for the domain.
You’ll also need an email account where the information can be delivered, something like abuse@ or postmaster@. You might even have to score a particular email reputation score to be accepted into their FBL.