Email Feedback Loop – Fundamental Things You Must Know
The email feedback loop is important to understand if you want an effective email marketing campaign. Invest your time and resources in a high-quality email delivery toolkit to maximize your marketing plan and use it to your advantage. The email feedback loop is one of the most important tools that we would highlight in this post.
What is an email feedback loop?
An email feedback loop refers to one of the services that some ISPs offer to marketers. It reports back complaints from your email subscribers to the sender (you), wherein the subscriber (your client) would hit the junk or spam button in their email inbox.
The feedback loops are essential, in which senders could use to listen to their subscribers. Should an email campaign receive quite a bit of complaint it could mean that the message sent was not targeted enough. It could also mean that the information provided no value. It is key for senders to provide good customer service and interaction especially in taking action or catering to such issues. For instance, the sender could take action and remove subscribers if they have complaints, adjust the message frequency or even adjust the entire message altogether and bring more value to the subscriber base.
Thus, email feedback loops could indirectly be an important tool, which could help business owners to learn from the complaints of their customers or subscribers. They could evaluate and analyze the complaints they received to see the areas that they need to improve. Most importantly, it is a tool that could help you determine and change the underlying issues regarding your sending contents and frequency.
Feedback Loops and Strong Email Marketing Campaigns
The email feedback loop helps senders or business owners in maintaining a clean list. Why? A strong marketing program is a huge help in your business especially a growing email list, which is a critical element to your campaign. In order to keep a clean email list, it is imperative to “scrub” or clean your email list through removing bounced, inactive, and other email addresses that are non-engaging.
These are the benefits of a clean and sound email list:
The main objective of the email feedback loop is to remove or unsubscribe members from the database of the sender. It helps you avoid members that would most likely send multiple complaints, therefore, affecting your email delivery potentials.
Increase your engagement rates for higher conversion. You need to get in touch with your potential customers and target market through email marketing and making sure that your customers interact with you through this tool.
Boost your sales growth and profits. Screening and filtering your email could help you identify and concentrate on potential customers that would heed your call to action.
Improve your reputation as a sender and increase your chances of getting approved by trusted and major ISPs or mailbox providers.
Reduce and prevent any chances of getting you to an email blacklist, which could mainly hurt your email marketing campaign.
Feedback Loops Help Remove Invalid, Bounced, and Non-Engaging Recipients
In simple terms, your email feedback loop would help you determine subscribers who do not want to be in your email list in the first place. They are the ones who mark your email SPAM or JUNK. You would need to remove them on your list because they are most likely bounced, invalid, and non-engaging recipients.
However, you can try to look into the complaints and see if you can still retain them in your email list after making significant changes or rectification. One of the common issues with complaints that result in feedback loops is that you may send them too many emails regularly. The content of your email could also influence this scenario, making your recipient mark your email as spam or junk.
Feedback Loops Identify Compromised Hosts
Email feedback loops are an elemental part of your network security since they help identify security issues by pointing out the complaints in your IP address space. You can avoid getting or receiving complaints, which are from emails that you did not send yourself.
Feedback Loops Determine Problematic Methods
You can identify some important data such as an acquisition ID or campaign ID number in the header of the message that is sent back to you. You can determine if these methods are problematic and follow up with factor evaluation such as frequency and message content. It gives you an idea if you have problematic list sources, which you need to re-evaluate or separate from other IP addresses so as not to affect your email program.
Feedback Loops and Spam Complaints
One of the most important things that a sender should consider in having an effective and successful marketing campaign is reputation. A good sending reputation allows you to reach the inbox of your customers, thus, reaching them and conveying your messages and call to action.
You should avoid subscriber complaints at all costs and email feedback loops could help you with that. However, there are other significant methods that you can use in order to avoid spam complaints and enjoy an untarnished sending reputation:
Know your subscribers
Determine your subscribers and where they come from. This would mean you must also identify the email program’s entry points and see if you have a quality email list in the first place. For instance, never purchase your email list from third parties, which could be loaded with spam traps as well as unknown users.
Unknown users from purchased lists usually do not expect to get any emails from you or other unknown senders, which means higher chances of complaints. You can get high-quality subscribers from those who actually registered or signed up to your email list via your sign-up form. They also give you permission to email them thus, permitting you after reading your send frequency and content disclosures.
Quality subscribers or users are not likely to complain. Moreover, there is a higher chance that their email addresses are authentic and valid.
Adapting to Change in User Markets
The lifecycle of your users is a vital factor in maintaining a clean list and avoiding spam complaints. Your sign-up form should make it clear that your user is, in fact, signing up for your email program. They should know the type of content that they are going to receive from you and the frequency with which you will send them such content.
So what happens in case your user is no longer interested or in need of your offer? In such cases, make sure that you do not bombard the user with deals that are no longer relevant to them. You can do something else that would show you are a versatile thought leader such as sharing content via a newsletter.
Avoid creating an annoyance or losing relevance to your target market by adapting to their changing mindsets and needs. This will make your brand on top of their mind as you maintain your reputation using an effective email marketing program.
Check In on Non-Engaging Users
Optimize your email marketing program with methods such as the “win-back campaigns.” These emails usually have subject lines such as “We miss you!”. They are recognizable and the sender could mention something like noticing that the user has stopped opening their mails and the likes.
This method could help you re-engage your users, have them re-affirm their interest in your brand or offers, and adjust their preferences or unsubscribe. In case the user does not reply to this method, it is high time that you suppress them from your email list.
Handle Complaints with Email Feedback Loops
Feedback loops are essential if your user made a complaint anyway, despite doing your best to avoid such circumstances. There could be many reasons for complaints such as brand exhaustion. This happens when the subscriber simultaneously hears or receives messages from you through email, voice mails, push notifications, text messages, and social media.
Users or subscribers utilize complaints via email to express their frustrations, especially when they are already overwhelmed with your messages using different platforms or channels.
Email complaints are indicators of unwanted content, according to mailbox providers or ISPs. Your mailbox provider expects you to suppress complainers as well as process the complaints against you. Thus, they provide an email feedback loop where the ISP could send you the data regarding complaints on your mail, oftentimes through an Abuse Reporting Format or ARF.
What should you do?
Now that you are fully equipped with a feedback loop, the mailbox provider expects you to provide a resolution to this problem. For instance, you need to take the necessary steps in suppressing users in a programmatic manner, as a response to the feedback loop complaints you received.
Email feedback loops help ensure that you will not receive complaints more than once. It allows you to identify the complainers so that you can take them off your email list and that they would stop receiving emails from you. It is a helpful tool to reduce the potential number of users that would likely complain about your future email marketing campaigns.
How do you get a feedback loop?
The ISP actually determines the requirements that you need if you want to get an email feedback loop. Take note of the general guidelines that you need to comply with so that you can be sure of a successful feedback loop application:
So that you can register for an email feedback loop, you must have admin rights or be the owner of the IP/Domain
The domain must have a postmaster@ or abuse@ email address
The domain and the IP’s rDNS that you entered and use should be a match
A good reputation is actually an essential requirement so that you can be accepted to the feedback loop application since most ISPs highlight this specification
Enable your feedback loop through an application process with the mailbox provider or ISP. Different ISPs have varying processes and required information found on their sites. However, the general data you need to provide include contact details, IP address, and the email address that you set up and from where you could receive the messages.
In terms of AOL, Yahoo!, senders must authenticate through DKIM, particularly the d= and s= values, which could be acquired from your DKIM signature.
Set Up a Feedback Loop Email Address
Your email address is the one that would receive the messages, which will be sent back through your ISP or mailbox provider. It must have a parsing script that would look through the messages that you would get from the subscribers.
The data that is being sent back to the feedback loop email address of the sender is the copied message that the subscriber or complaining member received. The Abuse Reporting Format or ARF is the most popular format, which most ISPs use.
The data that the sender could collect from the returned message could be anything such as the header and body of the email message. The sender could get the email address of the subscriber so that he can add it to his suppressed list.
However, if an ISP would not include the email address of the member, the sender should find another way to retrieve that information. You can track links in the message, specifically in the body or certain identifiers that could be found in the header.
What are the ISPs that provide a feedback loop?
Now that you are all geared to getting your email feedback loop, it is high time you look into the different ISPs that offer feedback loops. Most of these ISPs allow Return Path to manage your feedback loop for you. Before you choose a specific ISP, make sure that you get specific information and details regarding their offers:
AOL and Yahoo Feedback Loop
AOL and Yahoo offer a Complaint Feedback Loop or CFL program, free of charge. This is to provide assistance to email senders particularly in minimizing their complaint rates. Participants will receive complaints from the users regarding the emails that the sender sent. Verizon Media will facilitate this process of communicating between users and senders.
Both AOL and Yahoo mail domains have the same CFL application form despite having the “Yahoo” branding in the form. Yahoo servers host the “Email a Specialist” page for you to apply for the Complaint Feedback Loop. Make sure you have a Yahoo domain mail account to proceed.
Simple Feedback Loop Set Up
Go to Google.com and type in the “AOL feedback loop” keyword. Typically the first link will be the correct one. As of now, the application is located here, https://postmaster.aol.com/ or https://postmaster.yahoo.com. Once on the page, you can see the “Complaint Feedback Loop” in the popular links section.
Basically, what the feedback loop is going to do is that when someone clicks an email as “This is Junk” or “This is Spam”, and they are email clients for Yahoo, AOL, and Verizon, the email address that supplied to them will come back with the complaint. WIth STEdb our solution then will basically blacklist, remove, or unsubscribe them from receiving further messages from the company. If you are using a 3rd party mailing system you should make sure you have the tools in place to properly mark complainers and not mail to them.
Email a Specialist Page
When you click on the Yahoo Complaint Feedback Loop Application, you will be directed to the Email a Specialist page where you need to just fill the information out quickly. You would only provide your basic information for Yahoo/AOL.
The page requires your contact information including the Company Name, a Contact Name, Phone, and a Contact Email where Yahoo could email you regarding your registration and service updates.
This is also where Yahoo will send the confirmation message for your application, which will include a link that would confirm and make sure that the contact email address is valid and you are able to receive emails to that email address.
Once you receive that email and see the confirmation link, click on it to double confirm that the postmaster email address is valid.
Then enter a separate email address that does all the abuse processing, which is the supporting email. This is the Reporting Email where you will receive the complaint reports or notifications from the feedback loop. This is where the actual complaints from the users come in.
The Selector field is where you would enter the “s=” value of your DomainKeys or DKIM signature. You need to enter * for any selector and not include the “s=” portion.
The Selector that’s in the software usually varies depending on the providers. Some providers will have different types of selectors or domain key selectors for different types of campaigns and accounts.
Next, fill out the Request Type field where you could choose to Add, Update, or Delete, using the exact Company Name, Selector values, and Domain that you previously provided.
The last field is the Domain where the verification code will be sent to postmaster@<domain> provided once you click the button. Click the “I’m not a robot” box and get the Verification Code.
The verification code will be sent to your contact email. Copy and paste the code to the Domain field in the feedback loop application form. Once you send the application, you will receive a notification that looks like this:
Ideally wait for 48 hours for an email to be sent on your IP, however, the confirmation may be sent to you much faster than the 48-hour time frame. You could possibly receive the confirmation between an hour and 24 hours, depending on the current queue in the applications for a feedback loop in Yahoo/AOL.
The whole purpose of applying for a Complaint Feedback Loop is to make sure that people who complain are removed from your email list. They are basically wasting your bandwidth, time, and other resources.
The good thing about applying for a feedback loop with AOL, Yahoo, and Verizon, is that it is now super easy to manage. Verizon purchased AOL and Yahoo and brought their platforms together. So one application covers three major ISPs.
Thus, your domain will get the feedback loop services from Yahoo, AOL, and Verizon with just one application!
Problems Delivering Mail to Yahoo/AOL Mailboxes
Mail delivery issues can be caused by several factors. The first step is to make sure you are set up a feedback loop. When the feedback loop is set up, you need to monitor your complaint ratio so that it is no greater than 0.1% ratio. Anything greater than this ratio requires a review of your opt-in process. Either the list is very old, you have automatically signed up people without their knowledge. Someone that complains either forgot or never intended to subscribe, to begin with.
As marketers, we all want and think everyone should receive ‘all’ our email messages. The honest truth is that we have to realize that not everyone is interested in what we have to say. The key is that we have to identify and mail only those that would benefit from the email. If there is no benefit, no value, then, of course, there is going to be a higher unsubscribe rate and complaint rate. No one is going to complain about the value of receiving information that is critical to their success.
The Yahoo Sender Support Request link caters to both AOL, Yahoo and Verizon mail domains; thus, you can use the same form for your support request.
Yahoo Sender Support Request
The link redirects you to the page that uses servers from Yahoo as its host, requiring you to have a Yahoo domain mail account to continue with the request process. You will go to this page upon clicking the Yahoo Sender Support Request link:
The form initially asks you if you are making a new request or you want a status update. Click on the box and see your options in the drop-down selection. Choose New Request or Status Update, depending on the nature of your transaction. The status update requires a 48-hour or more interval after your prior request.
The next field is your contact information specifically your name, your role at the company, email address, company name, company website URL, and company postal address. You should also fill out the company phone number field and the mailing information for each active mail server that you registered. Provide the data for the IP address, reverse DNS record, and the associated domain per mail server.
The next entry inquires whether you are using an Email Service Provider (ESP). Your three drop-down choices include: “We are an ESP sending an email for our clients”, “No-we send our own email”, and “Yes.” Provide your ESP if you are using one.
You must also fill out the field to inform Yahoo/AOL if you are using a shared or dedicated IP address or both. Fill out the field that asks if you are signing emails with DKIM/DomainKeys. You have four drop-down choices in this field namely: (1) Domain Keys Only, (2) DKIM Only, (3) Both, (4) Neither.
Fill out the field regarding the type of emails you are sending using your IP addresses. Your choices may include transactional, marketing, forum postings, personal, newsletters, and others. Next, answer what subscription process you use. Such as double or confirmed opt-in, single opt-in, affiliate marketing, opt-out, and co-registration.
You will also be asked how many subscribers you currently have and how many emails you usually send on a monthly basis.
The next box requires you to copy and paste the entire message, which you think triggered the mail delivery error. Make sure that you remove any additional characters when you copy and paste.
Fill out the additional information box for other details that you want to include in your support request. Click the “I’m not a robot” box and the Create Request button to submit the request form.
Report Abuse from Verizon Media Domains
Clients could contact the postmaster.aol.com page via the Report Abuse form if they experience receiving contents from Verizon Media domains, which specifically violates the Terms of Services. The Yahoo Report Abuse form still bears the “Yahoo” branding but you can use it to send requests for both Yahoo and AOL email domains.
You can use the Report Abuse form by clicking the link and report abusive, junk, or unwanted email. Make sure that you include the full text of the email message that you received with the full header information. Yahoo/AOL will not be able to identify the actual source from which the email came from if you do not include the header details.
The Report Abuse form would look like this:
Enter the Yahoo ID or email address that you are contacting about. Fill out the field that asks for the email address that you have access to. Yahoo/AOL will contact you with the email address that you provided. Make sure that you have verified access to this email account.
You will be asked to re-enter the email address that Yahoo/AOL will use in order to reach you, verifying that it is a valid and active one.
Next, you will need to provide your contact details including your first name. Proceed to the next box, which asks for a detailed description of the issue that you are reporting. Do not provide any personal details such as credit card numbers, your Social Security number, driver’s license, Yahoo password, or passport number.
Finally, enter the Yahoo ID of the person that you are reporting. Click the “I’m not a robot” box then the Create Request button to submit your report.
Complaint Feedback Loop Program FAQs
What is a CFL?
The Complaint Feedback Loop program by Yahoo Mail is a free device that provides help to email senders in minimizing their complaint rates especially if you are sending bulk email messages. On top of minimizing your complaint rates, you can also improve your sending reputation overall.
You can get general reports from Yahoo when your mail subscribers would mark the emails that they receive from your IP address or domain as spam or junk. Yahoo, however, does not provide CIDR-based or IP-based feedback loop reporting.
What is the CFL Format?
All CFL reports will be given in the ARF (Abuse Reporting Format), which is inclusive of the full email headers along with the original message body, and additional machine-readable meta-data.
Verizon Media ARF reports have specific email header information, which includes the following:
DKIM signed including the domain ‘arf.mail.yahoo.com’
From header indicates: ‘Yahoo! Mail AntiSpam Feedback’
SMTP MAIL FROM format (envelope sender) reads: **firstname.lastname@example.org
Basics of Abuse Reporting Format:
Most CFLs use Abuse Reporting Format because they are extensible and provide generic spam reporting details. The reports are in MIME format.
The report includes 3 basic parts: (1) The original message, (2) MIME formatted machine-readable metadata section, (3) Plain text with a generic message.
What is DMARC?
DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance) refers to the technical specification, which is programmed to reduce the possibilities of email-based abuses.
A group of organizations created the DMARC as a solution for deployment, long-standing operation, and reporting issues in relation to email authentication protocols.
It standardizes the email authentication that receivers could perform using the DKIM and SPF mechanisms. Email receivers that implement DMARC should be able to provide senders consistent authentication results regarding their messages.
The DMARC policy enables the sender to show that their emails have SPF and/or DKIM protection while telling the receiver what to do such as how to reject the message if the authentication failed.
Why is my message in the Spam Folder even with a good domain reputation?
High complaints and poor reputation are two main reasons why your emails are redirected to the Spam folder.
Poor mailing characteristics could affect your mail and get it straight to Spam such as:
Confusing URLs in the mail body
Using an IP with rDNS that have no FQDN
Not following RFC
How do you improve your mail delivery?
Having a successful email marketing program is not an easy task especially with possible complaints of spam and junk emails towards your domain. You can prevent this from happening by doing the following:
Unsubscribe users that have previously marked your messages as spam. You can opt them out of your email list when you enroll in the Complaint Feedback Loop program of Yahoo where you can get their contact details.
Check your email content and subject lines. The content should be helpful and relevant to your recipients while your subject line should not appear generic or uninteresting or else your user would mark them as spam. Multiple users that mark your email spam would affect your mail deliverability.
Control your email traffic by avoiding a sudden spike of activity in your IP address. Sending your emails at a certain questionable rate could give you a red flag and your emails marked as spam. Carefully plan your email marketing campaign and spread it over a regular period of time.
The emails should have a DKIM signature so that Yahoo could authenticate your email and mark it as secure, safe, and qualified to be sent to Yahoo inboxes.
Your sending IPS should have published reverse DNS records because Yahoo would most likely downgrade the sending reputation of your IP without a reverse DNS entry. Your IP address should be a static mail server and not a dynamically-assigned IP in order to have a good sending reputation.
Sender Best Practices
Verizon Media is intent on helping you deliver messages to your customers while filtering out the emails that customers do not want to receive. Sending timely and relevant emails to engaged and active audiences should be the key element in having a successful email marketing campaign.
These are some of the best practices that you should do as a sender, which could help you boost your overall reputation and reach your intended market or target customers:
Only send emails that customers want. You can verify this by using your own sign-on page. This is where you can get recipients who specifically requested your email and who really want to receive them, in the first place.
If your customers only signed for a weekly or monthly mail, make sure that you honor their frequency intent. Thus, do not send them daily emails if they subscribed to a weekly or monthly mail.
Never purchase mailing lists from third party sources. Third-party sources are where you can find unknown users or those that would most likely complain because you sent them an email without them knowing or granting you permission to do so. Instead, have an opt-in checkbox where your potential customers could register to your email marketing program and automatically get emails from you.
Use a DMARC, DKIM, and SPF to authenticate your sending domain. Verizon Media strongly encourages its clients to publish a Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance policy. This allows the sender to prove that their message is DKIM and/or SPF protected. It also indicates certain steps that the receiver could follow in case the authentication methods fail.
Use Domainkeys Identified Mail or DKIM in authenticating every mail, which then creates a specific signature of the message content. The DKIM signature associates the sender to the email that he sends, verifying that content and proving that it was unchanged during transmission.
Establish a valid Sender Policy Framework or SPF record, so that you can specify the list of IPs, which you allow for your domain to send mail from. Verizon Media can reject messages through the SPF records, especially the ones that originate from IPs that are not in the SPF record domain list.
Using an email feedback loop could solve complaints with the help of email feedback loops. However, you can avoid such complaints right away if you segregate your email types. Make sure that you do not send marketing or bulk emails from the IPs, which you use for alerts, user emails, and transactional emails.
Your IP and DKIM domains have their respective reputations and these could actually affect the delivery of your email. Tainting your reputation could be activities such as sending unsolicited and unwanted bulk or commercial emails.
Make sure you segregate your emails based on their function in order to get the best delivery results possible.
Not receiving any complaints is better than dealing with the problem. You can make it possible through one of the best practices for senders and that is providing an Opt-In and Opt-Out method for your customers. This is proof that they actually giving you permission to send them emails thus, they will not complain about receiving one from you.
Users subscribe to your mailing list allowing you to send them emails where they would confirm opting into your email program. Your Opt-In method should not be something that signs up customers accidentally or maliciously. It is imperative so as not to get uninterested people, robots, or fake email addresses.
Just as you allow people to Opt-In, make sure that your email marketing campaign also has an Opt-Out method. You could include a One-Click Unsubscribe method where customers could just click the button and stop receiving emails from you. You could have the List-Unsubscribe one-flick function or email header field so that you can suppress certain email addresses on your list.
The Opt-Out or unsubscribe method should be an easy and visible process, which does not require the recipient to log in to something. Most importantly, the request to unsubscribe should be a quick and hassle-free process.
Enroll in Complaint Feedback Loop (CFL) Program
The AOL and Yahoo CFL program could immediately provide assistance to senders in tracking and managing their spam complaint rates. You need to sign your emails using a DKIM or Domainkeys Identified Mail signature for authentication.
Email feedback loops notify you when your subscribers or users click the “report spam” button. The ISP provides a copy of the spam complaint, which you could use as a reference regarding the complaint or escalated issues.
All DKIM domains require an active Complaint Feedback Loop so that you can process your complaints quickly and do something about it. The CLF allows you to maintain a clean mailing list and a good sending reputation. In return, it makes your email marketing program effective and successful.