- Fri 04/08/2016 11:32

All Service Providers Need Feedback Loops

Feedback loops keep professional marketers and their recipients happy.

Here is a little fact that very few people know:  If you receive a message from a valid sender (not a spammer) and choose to flag the message as spam, most of the time the sender never hears about your complaint.   That makes no sense at all but it is true.   While most of the big providers like Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, etc. will send your complaint back to the sender (known as a "feedback loop"), most of the other providers just sit on that complaint and do nothing other than count how many times the spam button is pressed.  In most cases the sender never hears about your complaint so the sender continues to send you mail until you actually unsubscribe.  If you are like the thousands of people who choose to hit the spam button instead of unsubscribe (because it is easier) and wonder why you keep getting messages, there is your answer - most service providers just sit on the spam complaint.  Eventually, if you keep marking all the mail from that sender as spam, the service provider will block all mail from that sender to everyone on the same service as you.  That is bad for the sender and bad for the other people on the service because other recipients want to read those emails.   This is why a feedback loop is so critical and should be in use by every service provider.  This is also why it is important to actually unsubscribe if you want off a mailing list.

A feedback loop system is very simple in nature.  Professional marketers sign-up to feedback loops managed by various service providers. The information the service provider needs is very basic: the email address who should receive copies of complaints and the IP addresses used by the sender.   If that service provider receives a complaint from one of its users the feedback loop system will find out who should get that complaint and it will send the complaint back to the sender.  The sender then removes the address from the list and the issue ends there. A feedback loop is a very easy system to design but these days with cost cutting and staff reductions many service providers simply cannot afford to create one.  A feedback loop should be the #1 priority for service providers because (a) it cuts down on repeat complaints [keeps recipients happy], (b) it helps reduce the number of times a sender gets completely blocked with the service provider, and (c) it helps the sender see what their recipients think of the messages being sent so they can either tone down their wording or change their format entirely to get a better response rate (instead of a higher complaint rate.)  This is one of those no-brainers that service providers simply do not see on their radar but is sorely needed.

One reason service providers choose not to offer a feedback loop is so they can judge the sender.  Without a feedback loop the service provider may get dozens of complaints from a particular sender over a short period of time (lots of people hitting the spam button when they simply want to unsubscribe.)  The service provider will then judge the sender as a spammer, even if they are not, so they can then block the sender entirely.  Again, that makes no sense at all but it happens every day to good, reputable senders around the world.  Since the lack of a feedback loop means complaints just keep piling-on, the sender eventually loses their good reputation with the service provider and all mail is then blocked from delivery.   We help many non-clients with blocking issues every single day and it is amazing how much time would be saved if feedback loops were operational everywhere.  In many cases we hear from recipients who want to be added back to the list when they realize their simple press of the spam button stopped their subscription completely. 

Over the past 28 years I found that many service providers do not care about marketers or the value the marketer brings to their recipients. The service providers are so incredibly busy dealing with their own customers that email marketers (non customers) have to sit in the back seat and wait, or in most cases, sit in the trunk and wait for days for a resolution.  They often see things in black-and-white so you either have zero complaints and are judged as a good mailer or have more than 0 complaints and and you are judged as a hard core spammer and are blocked or routed to the junk or spam folder. There is no in-between with many service providers so you are either good or horrible with no middle ground.  This is why a feedback loop with every service provider loop would dramatically cut down on delivery issues and would make senders and recipients quite happy. 

One could only hope that the urgency of installing a feedback loop would soon become a top priority with every service provider.


John Brogan