If someone wants to unsubscribe from your list and they hit the dreaded "THIS IS SPAM" button, instead of the innocuous "UNSUBSCRIBE" button, it can cause big problems. But do you know why?
When you send an email that originates from your domain name, you should always provide the recipient the opportunity to opt-out of your list by clicking on an "UNSUBSCRIBE" button. If you don't have an opt-out button or text attached to your email, you'll want to place it there immediately.
When someone opts-out of your list by clicking on the "UNSUBSCRIBE" button, the communication takes place directly between you and the person on your list. You will be instantly sent a message from them requesting removal from your list. And, as long as you respect their request, everything will be fine.
Unfortunately many people have been conditioned to avoid the "UNSUBSCRIBE" button. They know that spammers often times use this button to confirm that an email address is valid. If a spammer sees that you clicked on the "UNSUBSCRIBE" button, they know that your email address belongs to a living, breathing human being. Once they have this information, they can sell your email to other spammers.
Legitimate email marketers would never use the "UNSUBSCRIBE" button for that purpose. They prefer that you use it to notify them directly so that they can remove you from their list immediately.
Unfortunately, many people will opt-out of your list by clicking on the "THIS IS SPAM" button, and it can cause problems if you're not prepared. When this happens, it's the equivalent of the recipient complaining directly to the Supreme Court without advising you of the problem.
When someone clicks the "THIS IS SPAM" button, it starts a chain of events that are put in place to stop potential problems before they grow out of control. The keyword here is "potential" problems.
It could very well be that a spammer has hacked into your server and discovered a way to send their spam to your list. When someone clicks on the "THIS IS SPAM" button, it can provide an early warning of a bot infestation, a compromised web form or another source of spam abuse.
It can also be from someone who just doesn't want to receive email from you any longer. In either case, here's what happens.
The first thing that happens is that the recipients' computer will be reset to no longer accept email from your domain name. If you try to send them another email, it will either be sent directly to their spam box on be rejected out right.
The next thing that happens is that the email service, (let's use Gmail in this example) will be notified that the recipient has marked the email from your domain as spam. The email service sees this as a complaint and it can handle it in one of a variety of ways.
1. Gmail can choose to do nothing, seeing the complaint as insignificant because this was the first time anyone has marked an email from your domain as spam.
2. Gmail can stop sending your emails to everyone on your list with an @gmail account. This is the last thing you want to happen.
3. Gmail can inform you that someone marked your email as spam and give you the opportunity to remove their name from your list.
The best choice by far is number three. You want Gmail and all of the other email services to inform you when someone clicks on the "THIS IS SPAM" button. If they don't inform you, you will never know that one of your subscribers has asked to be removed from your list, or that they is potentially a much bigger problem.
The "THIS IS SPAM" button does not work like the "UNSUBSCRIBE" button, which informs you of their decision immediately. If you don't tell Gmail and the other email services that you want to be notified when someone clicks the "THIS IS SPAM" button, they have no way of letting you know what happened. This is why you want to fill-out the feedback loop registration form for each email service provider.
It's important that you register your feedback loop address, usually abuse@yourdomain, with all of the major ISP's and email service providers. This is a manual job and it can be a time consuming process, but it is critical that you do this immediately.
You can find the feedback loop submission forms for these major providers by searching for terms like "Road Runner Feedback Loop," "Yahoo Feedback Loop" and "Comcast Feedback Loop." You'll need to do this with all of the email companies where you intend to send email.
Once you've registered your feedback loop address with these companies, they will be able to alert you when recipients mark your messages as spam allowing you to unsubscribe them from your list and stay out of spammers jail.