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Difference Between Reporting as Spam vs. Unsubscribe

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Have you ever unsubscribed from a legitimate mailing list before? Most likely. We all have signed up for something and later changed our mind. But have you ever reported that same legitimate mailing as spam?

In fact, many legitimate subscribers will use the Report as Spam button rather than the Unsubscribe link.

Why do they do that? What is the difference between reporting as spam and unsubscribing? We have the answers.

Why do some users report a legitimate message as spam instead of unsubscribing?

Some use it as a form of convenience, but many fear that if they use the unsubscribe feature their email may be sold and then be flooded by even more unwanted emails. This is because it is showing the person on the other end that someone is actively monitoring the email account, therefore it is not a spam trap.

What is the difference between reporting a legitimate message as spam and unsubscribing from a list?

From the perspective of the user, the unsubscribe feature is for those who opted into a list at some point and then changed their mind, grew tired of the message or who just wanted to be removed.

Reporting as spam is what happens when a user gets tired of receiving unsolicited emails that they never wanted in the first place. This helps police the world of email and keeps us from all having thousands of junk messages every hour.

From the perspective of the Email Service Provider, the complaint filed by reporting a message as spam is first sent to the ISP (ie: Hotmail). Then if the ESP (ie: SimplyCast) is set up with the ISPs feedback loop, the complaint(s) will then be forwarded to the ESP which is then automatically processed and recorded for the given client.

When a recipient unsubscribes from an email the request is completed immediately by the ESP.

As you can see there are a few more steps in the first instance, and of course, it is a little more time consuming. Reporting as spam will also affect the clients sending reputation more than having a recipient unsubscribe because the request is logged by the ISP.

To help reduce the odds of a recipients doing either of these options, we recommend that you send re-opt-in emails regularly. This will keep those that want to continue receiving your mail engaged and also allow you to segment or remove those that no longer want to be on the mailing list.

In both cases, the end result is very similar. Subscribers are removed from your list, never to be mailed to again. In both cases, contacts took action by telling you they don't want to receive your communications again.

This is why you really have to treat your email marketing lists like gold. You need to not only engage your users by providing value but at the same time, you do not want to upset anyone by not following best practices and remaining compliant.

The cold, hard truth in the end is that for some, it is a lot easier to clean the inbox by reporting all unwanted messages as spam rather than unsubscribing from each individual piece of mail. Have a question for our compliance department? Leave a comment on this post or email us at deliverability@simplycast.com.

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