Q: Dear EmailKarma,

Recently we had a member of our opt-in (we only send opt-in) mailing list complain about a message that we sent to them by posting a long article about it on their blog. After working with our ESP and investigating the acquisition of this address it was found that another member of their family had subscribed and used this address in the past.

What should we do about these types of complaints in the future?

[name withheld at request of sender]

A: Hello,

This appears to be a case of an individual user overreacting to your messages, because they were accessing an account shared with another individual in there household. This is occasionally seen when one individual subscribes and the other doesn’t realize of know about this (i.e. husband/wife, parent/child).

A few recommendations immediately come to mind reading the steps needed to correct this type of issue in the future;

  • Build a program that will keep your users (even less engaged users) seeing your messages on a regular basis, those that fall off based on your business rules should be sunset correctly.
  • Build personalization into these messages, starting with Dear “First Name”, vs. Dear Valued Client, allows for instant recognition of the subscriber at a shared address.
  • Add in footers with the individuals name, subscribed date and email address that reinforce the individual that subscribed to your list. This is also good for an individual that may forward one account to another (or a friend).
  • Build an easy opt-out, requiring a password or membership number will also drive individuals like this to complain about your mail as they will generally not know the password on the account as it was created by another member of their household.
  • Last but not least, be polite and honest when dealing with people like this. Explain how you got the email address, who subscribed it and when.

Hope this helps you avoid these types of issues in the future. Have any other tips for your fellow reader on avoiding these types of issues, leave a comment.