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The hassle of being tagged a spammer

You send out a mass emailing.  Shortly thereafter you are bombarded with complaints from the email recipients; queries about the emails from your hosting provider; and every now and then your hosting is disabled 'while the problem is being investigated'.  Worse, you find that your server is now on some service providers' blacklists, so even people who do not have an issue with your email are no longer receiving it.

All of this causes you lots of inconvenience, chews up a lot of your time and leaves you feeling frustrated.

So what can you do to avoid having customers report your email as spam?

Tips to reduce spam complaints

Purchased email lists

Do not purchase lists and email those users.  Yes, the people selling these lists may say the user has opted in.  But invariably you will run into problems using these emails.

Newsletter signup procedures

Some sites let users sign up for an email by entering their email address.  Then they receive the email.  With this setup there is no guarantee that the person entering the email is the person that receives that email.  So you can see spam complaints resulting when the newsletters go out.

Here is the signup setup we recommend:
* User enters email
* Your site sends an email to that address with a link to confirm the subscription.  The link contains a unique, non-guessable confirmation id.
* After the user clicks that link your site marks the user's email address as confirmed.  No emails should be sent to users until they have confirmed their options.

This process is typically referred to as a double-opt-in signup process.  Since you need to do two things to sign up for the mailing.

Unsubscribe procedures

Some newsletters offer no unsubscribe link.  This probably is not acceptable.

Other newsletters take you to a page that asks for your email in order to unsubscribe.  Many users are wary of this option.  They may think it is just another ploy to get their email address.  Also, many users actually have multiple email addresses and may not actually recall which they used for subscribing to this newsletter.

If it is difficult for a user to unsubscribe from your mailing, then it may just be easier to report your mailing as spam/UCE.

We recommend a setup where:
* Each email has a clear unsubscribe link.  At the bottom of the email is probably where most people expect to see it.
* The unsubscribe link contains a unique id (possibly the user's email address).
* The user clicks the link, it takes them to a page with a message asking them to confirm the unsubscribe.  Once they hit that confirm button, they should not receive any further emails.