FBLs, complaints and unsubscribes
On one of my mailing lists there was a long discussion about the Q Interactive survey. Some of the senders on the list were complaining that unless ISPs provide FBLs they should not use complaints to make filtering decisions. The sender perspective is that it isn’t fair for the ISPs to have data and use it without sharing it back so that the senders could remove complainers.
This deeply, deeply misses the point.
The ISPs are in the business of keeping their users happy. Part of that is measuring how users react to mail. This includes providing “report spam” or similar buttons when they control the interface. Some ISPs have chosen to share that data back with senders. Some ISPs have made the choice not to share that information back.
But even the ISPs that share FBL data with senders do not expect that the only thing a sender will do is remove the email address. ISPs expect senders to actually pay attention, to not send mail that their recipients do not want. They expect that ESPs are going to notice that one customer has consistently high complaint rates and actually force their customer to stop sending mail that recipients think is spam.
Senders should keep track of complaint rates. Measure them per send. Do not waste time whining that this ISP or that ISP will not set you up with a FBL. Take the data from those ISPs that do have FBLs and measure it. It is extremely unlikely that a mailing will have grossly different complaint rates between ISPs. You have all the data you need in order to evaluate how your recipients are perceiving your email.
ESPs and senders who think that their only response to FBL complaints should be to remove that email are the ones most likely to have filtering and blocking problems. The ISPs are giving them valuable data that they can use to evaluate how their emails are being received. Instead of being ungrateful, wagging fingers and blaming the ISPs for not giving them the data they want, senders should spend more time focusing on what they can discover from the data that is shared with them.
A FBL email is more than an unsubscribe request, senders should stop focusing on the unsubscribe portion of the FBL process and focus more on the recipient feedback portion of it. What can you learn about your mail from a FBL?