8 Deliverability Tips To Reduce Negative Engagement


No email marketer wants to see their customers leaving them, whether by unsubscribing or reporting their emails as spam. High spam complaints and unsubscribes not only means losing potential revenue, but this also can affect the overall deliverability and performance of your future campaigns. These detractors create a negative impression at the ISPs, impact one’s sender reputation, and thus affect inbox placement.

Here are 8 tips for reducing negative engagement and boosting your deliverability:


1. Avoid Purchased/Rental Lists

The source of your mailing list is very important when it comes to reducing the number of opt-outs. There is a high chance of receiving increased complaints if you are sending to purchased lists. Even if your campaigns are well-crafted with effective designs, if your targeted audience is not subscribed or interested in receiving your emails, you are likely to get high complaints, which will lead to deliverability issues. To mitigate this risk, do your best to stick to using your first-party data.


2. Target Only Opt-in Users

Make sure to only target opted-in subscribers. It’s best practice to have a double opt-in acquisition process in place, which not only confirms the user’s address as valid but also confirms the user’s interest in your brand. Sending to these confirmed subscribers will improve positive user engagement with reduced unsubscribes and complaints.


3. Set and Get Expectations at Sign-up

Know your customers’ expectations at the start of the subscription process. Some users may sign up for your brand just to participate in a time-sensitive offer, but they may not be interested in receiving promotional emails, which may result in a complaint later on. So be sure to get clear consent from your customers on what kind of emails they would like to receive, such as frequency and interests.

You can implement a preference form during sign-up and gather additional information and data on user preferences. This helps create better segments for personalized targeting and minimizes opt-outs. Also, sending welcome emails in a timely manner is a great way to set expectations and inform new subscribers about your brand and services.


4. Maintain Sending Cadence and Deployment Times

Have consistent mailing patterns. Too many emails in a day or week may flood your customers’ mailboxes, which can lead to high complaints. At the same time, if you give long gaps between each send, then your customers may forget about you. It is advisable to understand the difference between active and inactive users and treat them differently according to their engagement history. So, maintaining a regular cadence as per your users’ preferences and engagement, i.e., daily, weekly, or monthly, will lessen opt-outs and help build a relationship with your customers.

In addition to frequency, keeping a consistent sending time can help increase positive engagement. However, this can be tricky with customers in different timezones. Use AI to your advantage by leveraging Engage Time Optimization to predict the best times for your email to get deployed to each of your subscribers.


5. Have a Proper Sunsetting Policy

There is a high likelihood of getting complaints and unsubscribes from old and dormant users who are no longer interested in your emails. Segment out those users who are non-engaging after a 6-month period of dormancy. Plan specifically and send reactivation campaigns from time to time to know if this audience wants to continue receiving your content or not. Based on the responses, you may add them to your mailing list or suppress those users accordingly. It’s better to sunset the non-responsive users instead of receiving complaints from them.


6. Ensure Content Is Relevant

You may see an increase in complaints if your sent content is not relevant to your users. To avoid these types of situations, segment your audience based on their preferences or activity and send personalized emails to them. Here are some content tips to reduce opt-outs:

  • Ensure that the subject line and preheader aligns with the creative. 
  • Avoid using spam words, shorten/broken URLs. 
  • Place only secured links in the content and build mobile optimized creatives. 
  • Avoid using large sized images to minimize load time and use alt-tags.
  • Do A/B testing to understand which content worked best for your customers.
  • Avoid too many redirects.

You can learn more about how to prepare ideal email content in this blog.


7. Brand Your Emails

Clearly mention your brand name as display name and in From address/domain. This helps your customers to easily recognize you, otherwise, they might get confused and may report your emails as spam thinking that it was sent from another source. It’s good to implement BIMI so that your logo can be displayed next to your message, which will create trust among your users, ensuring that the mail is coming from the legitimate brand they signed up for and they can safely access it. Also, make sure to authenticate all your emails without fail.


8. Get Feedback From Your Customers

To ensure that your customers’ preferences and interests are up-to-date, send regular survey emails to gather feedback from your subscribers. This not only helps with better segmentation but also improves customer satisfaction and engagement.

Make sure to prominently display the unsubscribe option so that users can easily opt-out if they choose to do so, rather than complaining or marking your emails as spam. By implementing a preference center, you can understand why customers are opting out and adjust your targeting accordingly.


In summary, to reduce negative engagement you should regularly monitor the performance of your campaigns and make any necessary changes based on your unsubscribe and spam complaint rates. It’s best to keep complaints at or below 0.01% and unsubscribes at or below 0.1% as lower negative engagement rates generally lead to better inbox placement. While your content may vary based on seasons or target audience, ensure that it remains consistent, on-brand, and never too far off-topic.


Anu Erisetti is deliverability analyst at Blueshift.