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The Benefits of feedback loop services

Mathieu Girol, director data services, Validity

User experience is email operator’s main concern. And the quality of message filtering is the key point of this experience. Feedback loop services (FBLs) send spam notifications back to the sender, and are the easiest and most effective way to reduce the number of unwanted emails sent to subscribers. It also provides senders with the opportunity to examine the reasons for the emails being marked as spam and adapt their processes accordingly to improve their emailing practices. FBLs, therefore, benefit every individual in the email chain.

The sender

Even though the majority of messages reported as spam are commercial emails, marketers are often unaware. This can have a far-reaching impact. Emails marked as spam impact advertisers’ understanding of their customers. It also affects their reputation and ultimately the performance of their campaigns. FBLs provide senders with vital insight into their subscribers’ spam activity. Advertisers’ relationships with their subscribers are based on trust, and this is key to their success.

Commercial spam is a significant nuisance to users. FBLs allow good email marketing players to take into account the will of their subscribers, which also allows for more aggressive filtering of bad actors in this sector. Knowing which messages have been marked as “spam” has multiple benefits for senders. Firstly, they can remove these addresses from their mailing lists and avoid any further subscriber discontentment. They can then review their marketing strategy and adapt it to avoid further “spam” reports from dissatisfied subscribers. The result is that senders will see real improvements in their performance.

Email Service providers

Email service providers (ESPs), such as Adobe, are an intermediary between senders and MBPs. They are responsible for ensuring that emails are sent as intended. Receiving spam reports from FBLs allows them to optimise and protect their service but also the relationship with their customers, the senders. Then come MBPs, like Outlook, who are committed to protecting their users and offering them the most secure and fluid mailbox possible. Monitoring spam reports contributes to this effort.

Mailbox providers

Spam complaints are the main signal used by mailbox providers (MBPs), as well as spam filters, to decide whether messages will be delivered to recipients’ inboxes or spam folders. Most major MBPs recommend the suppression of addresses that generate complaints as a matter of best practice – they should effectively be treated as another form of unsubscribe.

For MBPs, their main job is to protect the mailboxes of millions of users, both from threats like phishing, malware or scams, and from spam. Indeed, most MBPs and filtering vendors don’t have a problem with legitimate marketing emails. However, if those emails look like spam they will be treated as spam, therefore their guidance is: “don’t look like a spammer!”.

The subscriber

For subscribers, it can be frustrating to receive too many emails from one sender, so the usual course of action is to click the “unsubscribe” button. This should be easily found at the top of the email, or very visible at the bottom of the email. Senders should ensure that they are adhering to this best practice guidance as it will reduce the need for subscribers to mark emails as “spam” when the “unsubscribe” button is too hard to find.

However, sometimes this process can be clunky and so subscribers do end up marking emails as “spam” because it is the path of least resistance. In this instance, FBLs mean there is a direct and immediate action for the subscriber when they click the “spam” button, avoiding any further irritation with a sender.

Ultimately, FBLs meet several central objectives: to protect the reputation of brands, optimise the understanding of customer behaviour, and above all to satisfy the end consumer. This benefits every stakeholder in the chain, including senders, ESPs, MBPs, and recipients. Genuine spam represents a large proportion of sending volume – by taking this signal into account, senders are provided with another valuable data point to help them better understand (and manage) their subscriber engagement.