How To Deal With High Bounce, Unsubscribe and Spam Complaint Rates

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And how to address each of these email list issues


When you are evaluating the reports from your campaigns, there are several metrics you should be analyzing, among which are bounce rate, unsubscribe rate, and spam complaint rate.

But how exactly do you address each of them?

Meme on Email Unsubsription

Let’s dive in…


Bounce rate 

Total emails bounced

Are your emails bouncing a lot? You should aim to keep a low bounce rate, which means staying below 0.5%. If your bounce rate exceeds 1.5%, you should definitely be worried.

Ask yourself the following questions…


     1. Are you cleaning your list?

You should aim to suppress any profile who has bounced several times and never mail them again. You don’t want them on your list. It may be that a bounce is a soft bounce (such as when the user’s inbox is full), but even too many soft bounces are viewed negatively by email providers. 

Pro Tip You can set up a Klaviyo flow to do this for you automatically (if bounced 3x or more, suppress).


     2. Where did you get your list?

Did you buy your list, or did all profiles sign up to receive your emails? It may seem obvious, but many stores still use purchased email lists, which result in high bounce rates. Cleaning the list also applies as a plan of action in this case.

Pro Tip – buying an email list is a somewhat grey area. The best advice we can give is to really do your homework but in general on laws about buying email lists, and also homework on the person that is selling you the list. They need to be very clear exactly how they generated it, if people gave permission etc.


Unsubscribe rate

Total emails unsubscribed

Unsubscribes can be reframed as passively cleaning the list. When you have uninterested people unsubscribing, you avoid getting spam complaints from them.

Nonetheless, ESPs consider high unsubscribe rates a bad thing. Try to keep your unsubscribe rate below 0.3%. If it climbs above 1%, ask yourself:


Are you sending to unengaged customers who don’t want your emails?


People who have been unengaged for a long time will probably unsubscribe as soon as they get the next email.

However, it is better to have many unsubscribes than to have people clicking the spam button. Never hide the unsubscribe button in hopes of lowering unsubscribe rates. Let those who didn’t want the email unsubscribe to make it easy to leave your list; it’s a win-win.

If the rates are high for several campaigns in a row, reduce the segment, and send emails to more engaged people.


Spam complaint rate

Spam complaint rate

A high spam complaint rate is the most critical of these three metrics. You should aim to keep spam complaint rates below 0.08%. If you find that your emails are getting marked as spam more than 0.15% of the time, you should definitely ask yourself:


     1. Are you misleading recipients about what your content offers?

If your email captures or subject lines are designed to lure unsuspecting readers into signing up for content they don’t really want, chances that they may mark your email as spam increase. However, there is a way to avoid that, which leads us to the next question.


     2. Where’s the unsubscribe link in your email?

The last thing you want is someone not finding the unsubscribe button and then marking your email as spam.

Consider including two unsubscribe buttons in your emails, one at the top and one at the bottom.

In this way, you ensure that recipients who don’t want to receive your emails will unsubscribe long before they even consider clicking that dreaded spam button.


What steps do you often take to improve deliverability? Do you find yourself well into the safe zone of these percentages, or are you frequently on the edge or worse? Comment below about your experiences.


By Rodrigo Santiago Juaçaba and Debbie Ang
Hustler Marketing


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