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Your opt-in email list is full of consumers and a majority of these consumers probably use a big web-based email service like Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail. On these big email client sites, there is a button to mark an email being read as spam. You probably think that because you aren’t spam, and your list is opt-in that this button is irrelevant to you and your email campaign. But you would be wrong. The “spam” button is supposed to be used to keep unwanted junk out of the inbox, but it is not always used that way. Many users will use these buttons as a method to get rid of emails they no longer want to receive. They do this instead of unsubscribing, maybe because it is quicker and simpler for them, or maybe they had a bad experience in the past with a marketer who didn’t actually take them off the list. But marking your email as spam is a sure-fire way to keep your messages out of their inbox, but it can be harmful to your legitimate opt-in campaign. The web mail service keeps track of these spam button hits and collects data in order to build a better list of who is a spammer and who to watch for. Every spam report against you tarnishes your name with these data collection and spam protection services. If enough people using a certain webmail service mark your email as spam no one that uses that service is going to get your emails, even if they want them. Email services know that people do this and a few reports shouldn’t hurt you but it is a risk factor that frustrates ethical email marketers.
There is a light at the end of this tunnel though; an alternative is being introduced in some large webmail services. If a sender completes certain requirements, an “unsubscribe” button appears in place of the “spam” button. That means instead of a spam report and your emails being banished, the services sends an unsubscribe request. This is a much better solution to the spam/unsubscribe issue. This is a relatively new service and not all webmail providers are offering it to the masses. There are different criteria for different services to be qualified to receive the “unsubscribe” instead of “spam”. This is something you’ll probably need to discuss with your email marketing service or program. This unsubscribe button is still a young development and there are still some kinks to work out along the way but it is a welcome alternative and improvement for email marketers.