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Gmail spam complaint notifications

Our system automatically detects higher-than-normal spam complaints through a program known as a "feedback loop" (FBL), which we have set up with all of the major ISPs.

Feedback loop notifications from Gmail haven't been around for as long as the rest, and they work a little differently. This article is to explain how the process works, in case we ever need to contact you due to spam complaints made by Gmail customers against your emails.

How Gmail's feedback loop works

The process with Gmail differs from how the feedback loop works with other ISPs. Here's how:

  • The Gmail FBL notifications we receive contain figures as a percentage only, and this is based only on emails that reach the inbox, as opposed to total emails sent.

  • Gmail customers who mark an email as spam are not unsubscribed from your audience, and there is no way of knowing which contacts complained. Although future emails sent to them will go straight to junk mail.

How we handle Gmail complaints

When the spam complaint percentage for a sender exceeds 0.5% the postmaster at Gmail (their mail server administrator) notifies our compliance team. Within 24 hours, we email the primary contact for your account to let you know, but also to assist with getting things back on track.

If complaints rates are high enough that we need to contact you, it means that your sender reputation with Gmail has been badly affected. As a result:

  • Future emails are much more likely to be blocked by spam filters, so that even your most engaged contacts may not receive your messages.

  • With more of your emails going straight to the junk folder, open rates will additionally be affected, further damaging your sender reputation with Gmail and consequently impacting deliverability across all ISPs.

When a sender receives high complaint rates it also damages our sender reputation and relationships with ISPs, which in turn, negatively impacts all of our customers.

So, if we do get in touch with you because of high complaint rates at Gmail, rest assured we're making contact to help you investigate the problem, and hopefully solve it.

Industry standard for spam complaints is 0.1%. That's about one complaint for every 1,000 recipients.

Repairing your sender reputation with Gmail

The FBL notifications we receive from Gmail help us determine whether there are problems with a sender's program overall, or a specific mailing, or even specific groups or content.

This means, provided you are doing the right thing, we can help identify where delivery problems lie and assist with repairing your sender reputation at Gmail so future mailings are delivered successfully to inboxes again.

The repair process is likely to involve reviewing your signup methods to see if they are causing complaints. To prevent further complaints, you'll also need to refrain from sending to contacts with Gmail addresses for a period of 7-14 days, or for the next three mailing sends.

We'll also advise and assist you with segmenting your most engaged contacts so you can focus on sending to them to help boost sender reputation scores.

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