If you're sending regular emails, a focused email campaign, or a monthly e-newsletter to visitors, meeting planners, prospects, partners, or board members, the idea is to continue getting your communications through and keeping your destination top of mind. Which means you DON'T want to wind up on a blacklist.

Sounds ominous, doesn't it? Blacklisted. Boycotted. Banned. It's what happens when people to whom you're sending digital communications mark your emails as SPAM, or unwanted. SPAM may have many definitions depending on various perspectives, but for deliverability the most important perspective is that of the internet service provider (ISP) delivering your messages. Increasingly, these services are defining SPAM as anything their users have expressed that they don't want in their inbox using the "Mark as SPAM" button. Quite simply, a high complaint rate can affect the deliverability of your messages. Too many rejections by senders, and you're blacklisted; prevented from sending further messaging to certain addresses.


Permission is a required foundation for getting email messages delivered, but it is not the only necessary component of an effective campaign that avoids complaints. While each list is different, there ARE some common solutions worth considering when working to lower your complaint rate and avoid the dreaded blacklist. Below is our short list for avoiding the blacklist.

1) Make Unsubscribing Easy

Like it or not, some people are going to choose to unsubscribe from your list, so make sure they're able to do so quickly and easily. If they can't easily unsubscribe, or they don't trust your unsubscribe method, they are likely to mark your message as spam instead.

One strategy for making the unsubscribe process easier: place an unsubscribe link at the top of your message.

2) Watch Your Frequency

Sometimes subscribers mark email as spam because they feel they are getting an overload of messages from one sender. On the other hand, rarely receiving messages can cause subscribers to forget who you are and why you are sending them email. Testing varying frequencies will help you decide the amount of sends that perform best for your campaign.

3) Include a Contact List Only When Appropriate

If you are including multiple lists in your campaigns, be sure that the information you are sending is applicable and relevant to all subscribers. If the messages you're sending don't closely match the information subscribers originally requested, they may complain.

If you include lists, make sure that your "from" address is the same so subscribers recognize you as the sender. Seeing an email from an address they don't recognize can cause subscribers to think they're receiving spam.

4) Maintain Consistency

Maintaining a consistent image, along with sending consistent content from a persistent address that users can reply to makes sure that your subscribers will recognize your messages. If your campaign becomes inconsistent, or a subscriber doesn't know why they are receiving your email or who you are, your emails may be viewed and marked as SPAM.

5) Make It Mobile-Friendly

Consistency also applies when making your emails mobile-friendly. According to a Litmus-Fluent survey, "51% percent of consumers have unsubscribed from a brand's emails because their emails or website didn't display or work well on their smartphone."1 So don't stop at the email template; any landing page or mobile app your email connects to should be mobile-friendly, as well.

6) Manage Your Lists

Subscribers who have been on your list for a long time may lose interest in your messages, or even forget who you are if they haven't heard from you in a long time. Launch a re-engagement campaign. Sending a message targeted specifically towards long-time or long dormant subscribers can help you recover those subscribers.

7) Remove Inactive Subscribers

If you can't get lost subscribers to re-engage with your list, it may be best to stop sending to them. Sending to subscribers who are no longer interested in what you have to offer makes you more likely to be reported as SPAM.