In previous articles, we’ve had a look at the definition of deliverability, key factors and the advantages of having a Dedicated IP. In this installment, we’re going to have a look at abuse complaints as this is another aspect of email marketing that, when not dealt with correctly, can negatively impact your sender reputation and, therefore, your deliverability.

Unfortunately, it’s just as bad to be marked as spam as it is to hit spam traps.

But, what is an abuse complaint? If you’re using Benchmark, an abuse complaint can come from one of two sources:

  1. When a client marks an email as spam using the button in their inbox. This is the most serious of the two because it’s Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc. who will receive the complaint and take measures against your emails.
  2. Via Benchmark’s “Report Abuse” button. If the recipient chooses to complain via this button, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc. don’t receive the complaint and this gives us time to resolve the issue. This doesn’t mean that it’s not serious, though. At Benchmark, we take abuse complaints very seriously and, while we will work with you to help you resolve the issue, if any client has a ratio of abuse complaints that’s over 0.05%, their account will be terminated. To put this in perspective, this means we allow one abuse complaint per 2000 emails sent.

What gets my emails marked as spam?

This is a very good question. Many factors may be behind your recipient marking you as spam. For example:

  1. The database that you’re using is too old. A database being old may mean that the information that you’re sending is no longer relevant or they don’t remember signing up to your emails.
  2. The information that you’re sending isn’t of interest to your subscribers so they incorrectly mark you as spam instead of unsubscribing.
  3. You’re sending too many emails and your recipients are tired of receiving them. If you think that this could be the case, it’s time to stop and review your strategy.
  4. You’re sending emails to people that haven’t opted-in. This isn’t only bad email marketing practice but it’s also illegal and can have consequences that are much more far-reaching than bad campaign results.
  5. You’re sending content to people that had requested/expected information about something else when they signed up. For example, if they signed up to receive a webinar series on carpentry, don’t send them one on haute cuisine. People will be happy to receive more information related to what they originally signed up for but not offers for other things.
  6. The recipient was simply having a bad day and decided they weren’t interested in your email so marked you as spam.  It hardly happens but you’ll learn more on resolving this below.

You’ll see now then that there are various factors that can be behind an abuse complaint and, while this isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list, you must ask yourself if you’re guilty of any of the above because your abuse complaint ratio is something that you can control.

At Benchmark, when you send a campaign, you can see if you receive an abuse complaint in your reports:




Don’t forget though that you can only control your abuse complaints if you add the “Report Abuse” link to your campaign.


If you don’t use this link, the recipient will only be able to complain directly to their inbox provider and this will seriously damage your sender reputation.

How can I avoid being marked as spam?

We’ve already seen some of the reasons behind why we might get labeled as spam so let’s have a look at some possible solutions:

  1. If your database is old, send only to those that open your emails. Why pay for the big plan if it’s not being effective?
  2. We often think that what we’re sending is very interesting and relevant but, are you completely sure? Take a minute now to go and have a look at your last campaign’s click-through rate. Are you satisfied? If you’re not, consider changing your content so that it really is something that provokes engagement from your subscribers. Tip: Our “click heat maps” within your email reports can give you some valuable insights into the type of content that your recipients are interested in.
  3. Create a strategy around the emails you send. Consider your content and the best time and day to send that particular message. Also, don’t ever send the same content twice in the same week. Less is more.
  4. Don’t send spam. Make sure that you’re only sending to people who have opted in to receiving news from you.
  5. Segment your clients by the type of content that they want to receive. This will boost relevancy.
  6. If a recipient has marked you as spam, review your reports and contact them personally to find out why they did it and understand what actions you need to take.

Final recommendations

  • Remember to always add our “Report Abuse” link to your emails
  • Keep an eye on your reports
  • Listen to your recipients and learn from their actions

In our next article, we’ll be discussing why it’s important to keep your lists up to date. Follow us, subscribe and don’t miss out!

Help others learn more about email marketing best practices by sharing on social media and spreading the word. And, if you have any questions for us, just leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you.

Enjoy learning with Benchmark Email!